A Geneva Academy-ICRC Project

Started in January 2014

The investigation of death and harm during situations of armed conflict is a key area of humanitarian concern with profound implications for the application of international humanitarian law (IHL). Proper investigation by militaries involved in armed conflict and other domestic authorities is necessary to establish:

  • Whether the relevant IHL rules were applied, and respected
  • Whether appropriate measures, and of what kind, should be implemented in case of alleged violations
  • Whether possible failings in IHL application were individual or systemic in nature
  • What procedures should be put in place to prevent or minimize unlawful deaths and destruction in future military operations


The duty to investigate in situations of armed conflict is implied, but not mentioned directly in international law sources. States tend to rely on their domestic legal frameworks when it is deemed that an investigation is necessary, yet there is little uniformity of practice across states and no agreed international standards by which to assess these domestic procedures. Clearer guidance would appear to be of use in several areas, including: the circumstances that should trigger an investigation, who should carry it out, what its nature should be, the principles that should underpin it, and what an appropriate outcome would be.


This project, initiated in 2014 by the Geneva Academy and joined in 2017 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), intends to identify, via expert meetings and research, a set of guidelines based on law, policy and good practice that states should apply when they investigate alleged violations of IHL in situations of armed conflict.

The guidelines will aim to provide a reference document for states, their militaries and other domestic bodies on investigations in armed conflict, and will be of use to other relevant national and international actors.


Picture of Noam Lubell

Noam Lubell

Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy and Professor of Public International Law and Head of the School of Law at the University of Essex

Noam Lubell has taught, researched and published on a variety of topics related to international human rights law and the law of armed conflict, and is recognized as a leading expert in these fields.

Picture of Claire Simmons

Claire Simmons


Claire Simmons conducts research on investigations in situations of armed conflict under the directorship of Professor Noam Lubell, Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy.

Picture of Kamelia Kemileva

Kamelia Kemileva

Executive Manager

Kamelia Kemileva is Executive Manager of the Geneva Academy and Co-Coordinator of the Treaty Body Review 2020. She is also a visiting programme director at Wilton Park.

Portrait of Jelena Pejic



Jelena Pejic is a practitioner and scholar of international humanitarian law (IHL). Her work and publications cover a range of IHL issues and include the interface between IHL and human rights law. She is recognized as a leading authority in her fields.


South Ossetia, Georgia, 2009: Tskhinvali. A year after the conflict that divided South Ossetians and Georgians, much of the town of Tskhinvali is still badly damaged. Event

Public Pleadings by LLM Students on the 2008 South Ossetian Conflict

May 2018, 09:00-16:00

In the framework of the LLM course on international humanitarian law (IHL) given by Professor Gloria Gaggioli, students will plead for Russia and Georgia arguing the the side they represent respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.

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Gaza City, 2014. Palestinians check the remains of Al-Basha, a building that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike. Event

Public Pleadings by LLM Students on the Summer 2014 Gaza Conflict

June 2018, 09:00-16:00

In the framework of the LLM course on international humanitarian law (IHL), students will plead for Israel and Palestine arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.

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East Timor, Dili, burnt houses Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts and Other Contested Issues

26 April - May 2018

This course examines one of the main purpose of international humanitarian law (IHL), which is to mitigate human suffering caused by war. It enables a careful evaluation of the various IHL rules intended to help protect vulnerable persons, such as civilians and prisoners of war, as well as property during armed conflict.

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UN Mission patrols disputed area in Sudan Short Course

Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict and Fragile Situations

13 April - May 2018

This course provides a concise and systematic treatment of the peacebuilding process in post-conflict and fragile situations. It adopts a holistic definition of peacebuilding that combines the socio-political issues with economic growth in a sustainable development perspective.

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Central African Republic, Ouham province, village of Ouogo. International Humanitarian Law dissemination session to members of the Peoples' Army for the Restoration of Democracy. Project

From Words to Deeds: A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms

Started in January 2017

This project aims at compiling and analysing the practice and interpretation of selected international humanitarian law and human rights norms by armed non-state actors (ANSA). It has a pragmatic double objective: first, to offer a comparative analysis of IHL and human rights norms from the perspective of ANSA, and second, to inform strategies of humanitarian engagement with ANSA, in particular the content of a possible ‘Model Code of Conduct’.

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UN Peacekeepers on Patrol in Abyei, Sudan Project

Post-Conflict Peacebuilding

Completed in January 2005

This research project aimed to clarify the multiple facets of post-conflict peacebuilding.

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