International Humanitarian Law Group

International Humanitarian Law Group

The International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Group (jus in bello) focuses on military uses of space in the context of conflict.

The IHL Group is led by Group Editors Professor Michael Schmitt (US Naval College/University of Exeter) and Ms. Liis Vihul (NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence), and the Research Support Team consists of Research Coordinator Mr. Kuan-Wei Chen and Research Assistant Ms. Sandy Belle Habchi. 

The Core Experts in the IHL Group (in alphabetical order) are:

  • Prof. Laurie Blank (Emory University)
  • Prof. Christopher Borgen (St. John's University)
  • Dr. Emily Crawford (University of Sydney)
  • Gp. Capt. Ian Henderson (Royal Australian Air Force)
  • Lt. Col. Matthew King (US Air Force)
  • Dr. Kubo Mačák (University of Exeter)

The following are Associate Experts of the IHL Group:

  • Prof. Robin Geiß (University of Glasgow)Prof. Frédéric Mégret (McGill University)
  • Prof. Frédéric Mégret (McGill University)
  • Prof. Armand de Mestral (McGill University)
  • Prof. Marco Sassòli (University of Geneva)
  • Dr. Cassandra Steer (McGill University)

Institutional Contributors to the IHL Group are:

  • Mr. Laurent Gisel (ICRC)


IHL Group Editors

Michael Schmitt

Professor Michael Schmitt is the Charles H. Stockton Professor and Chairman of the Stockton Center at the United States Naval War College. He is also the Francis Lieber Distinguished Scholar at the United States  Military Academy’s Lieber Institute, Professor of Public International Law at the University of Exeter, Fellow at Harvard Law School’s Program on International Law and Armed Conflict, and Senior Fellow at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. He is an elected member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.  Professor Schmitt serves as General Editor of International Law Studies and of the Lieber Studies (OUP).

Liis Vihul

Ms. Liis Vihul is a senior analyst in the Law and Policy Branch at the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. Her primary research area is the application of public international law in the context of cyberspace. Ms. Vihul is the managing editor of the “Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations”, which will be published by Cambridge University Press in early 2017. Additionally, she runs the international law training programme at the NATO Cyber Defence Centre, serves as a member of the Estonian delegation at the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security, and is the CEO of Cyber Law International, a firm that provides international law consultancy and training. Ms. Vihul holds a master’s degree in law from the University of Tartu and in information security from the University of London.

Core Experts

Laurie Blank

Laurie R. Blank is a Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law, where she teaches the law of armed conflict and works directly with students to provide assistance to international tribunals, non-governmental organizations and law firms around the world on cutting edge issues in humanitarian law and human rights.   Professor Blank is the co-author of International Law and Armed Conflict: Fundamental Principles and Contemporary Challenges in the Law of War, a casebook on the law of war (with G. Noone, Aspen Publishing 2013; Concise Edition 2016).  She is also the co-director of a multi-year project on military training programs in the law of war and the co-author of Law of War Training: Resources for Military and Civilian Leaders (USIP 2008, with G. Noone, second edition 2013). In addition, she is the series editor of the ICRC’s teaching supplements on IHL, Chair of the American Society of International Law Lieber Prize Committee, was a term member of the American Bar Association’s Advisory Committee to the Standing Committee on Law and National Security (2011-2014), and was a member of the Public Interest Law and Policy Group’s High Level Working Group on Piracy.

She is the author of numerous articles and opinion pieces on topics in the law of armed conflict, including targeted killing and drone strikes, the classification of armed conflict, implementation of the law of armed conflict during military operations, cyber war, and law and legitimacy in armed conflict.  Before coming to Emory, Professor Blank was a Program Officer in the Rule of Law Program at the United States Institute of Peace.  At USIP, she directed the Experts’ Working Group on International Humanitarian Law, in particular a multi-year project focusing on New Actors in the Implementation and Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law. Professor Blank received an A.B. in Politics from Princeton University, an M.A. in International Relations from The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at The Johns Hopkins University, and a J.D. from New York University School of Law. 

Christopher Borgen

Christopher J. Borgen is a Professor of Law at St. John's University School of Law in New York and Co-Director of the school’s Center for International and Comparative Law.  From 2009 – 2014 he was the law school’s Associate Dean for International Studies. He is also the co-founder of Opinio Juris, a website of discussion and debate about international law, where has had written on a variety of issues including the relationship of international law to emerging technologies. 

Professor Borgen’s research addresses topics such as conflicts among overlapping treaty regimes and the interaction of international law, diplomatic rhetoric, and strategy in secessionist crises. Among other projects, he is the principal author of Thawing a Frozen Conflict: Legal Aspects of the Separatist Crisis in Moldova, a report issued by the New York City Bar, and is currently a Co-Rapporteur for the International Law Association’s Committee on Recognition and Non-recognition.

Professor Borgen has served as co-chair of the American Society of International Law’s Space Law Interest Group and is a member of that group’s Advisory Board. He has also served as chair of the United Nations Committee of the New York City Bar and as a member of the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law (ASIL).

Prior to joining the faculty at St. John's, Chris Borgen was the Director of Research and Outreach at the ASIL, and previously practiced international corporate law in New York City. He was educated at Harvard College and New York University School of Law.


Emily Crawford

Dr Emily Crawford is a senior lecturer and Director of the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL). Previously at the Law Faculty at the University of New South Wales, Emily completed her Arts and Law degrees before working as a researcher at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, before returning to UNSW to undertake her PhD. Her doctoral thesis on the disparate treatment of participants in armed conflicts was published by Oxford University Press in 2010.

Emily has taught international law and international humanitarian law, and has delivered lectures both locally and overseas on international humanitarian law issues, including the training of military personnel on behalf of the Red Cross in Australia. A member of the International Law Association's Committee on Non-State Actors, as well as the NSW Red Cross IHL Committee, Emily's most recent research project examined major developments in the conduct of armed conflicts in the 21st century, such as cyber warfare, targeted killings, and the increasing presence of civilians directly participating in armed conflicts. The research project was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press as Identifying the Enemy: Civilian Participation in Armed Conflict.



Ian Henderson

Group Captain Ian Henderson is a legal officer in the Royal Australian Air Force. He has a BSc and LLB form Monash University and a LLM and Ph D from the University of Melbourne.

Recent military postings include the Director Military Law Centre and Deputy Director Asia-Pacific Centre for Military Law in Sydney, and Director of Administrative Law and Advisings at Defence Legal in Canberra, during which time he was concurrently the category sponsor for Air Force Legal. He took up his most recent appointment as a Judge Advocate and Defence Force Magistrate in February 2016.

He has deployed on three occasions: East Timor (1999), briefly to Afghanistan (2002), and the Middle East (2003) where he was the senior Australian legal officer in the Combined Air Operations Centre. He has published a number of book chapters and journal articles mostly concerning operations law, and is the author of: The Contemporary Law of Targeting: Military Objectives, Proportionality and Precautions in Attack under Additional Protocol I (2009).

He was made a Member of the Order of Australia (Military Division) in 2011 ‘for exceptional service in the field of military law’ and in 2015 was appointed as an Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Adelaide Law School.

Matthew King

Lieutenant Colonel Matt King is the Chief, Operations and Cyber Division at the United States Air Force Operations and International Law Directorate (AF/JAO).  He advises on the law of armed conflict (LOAC) and other legal matters related to Air Force operations.  He previously served as an Appellate Defense Counsel, representing clients before the AF Court of Criminal Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, and in filings before the United States Supreme Court, to include representing the sole Air Force member on death row in his capital murder appeal; Assistant Professor of Law at the US Air Force Academy, teaching LOAC, Advanced LOAC, International Law, and Law for Air Force Officers, and serving as the Department of Law and Division of Social Sciences Executive Officer; and as a trial counsel, defense counsel, and staff attorney at numerous Air Force bases in the US and abroad.  He has deployed as the Legal Advisor to the NATO Commander of Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan and as deputy Legal Advisor to the NATO Headquarters in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Matt received a BA, with distinction, in History and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia; a JD, magna cum laude, with a Certificate in International and Comparative Law from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law; and an LLM in Air and Space Law from McGill University, where he was awarded the Professor Masao Sekiguchi Fellowship in Air and Space Law. 

Kubo Mačák

Dr Kubo Mačák has been a Lecturer in Law at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom since 2013. He holds the degrees of DPhil, MPhil, and MJur from the University of Oxford, and an undergraduate degree in law from Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. In 2012, he was awarded the Diploma of the Hague Academy of International Law.

Kubo has been a Europaeum visiting researcher at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, a visiting researcher at the Institute of Public International Law at the University of Bonn, and a Research Fellow of the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa, Israel.

Kubo has worked at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in The Hague and at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania. He has also served as a law clerk to the President of the Constitutional Court of the Slovak Republic.

His research interests span general international law, international humanitarian law, and the law of cyber security. He completed his doctoral thesis, entitled Internationalized Armed Conflicts in International Law, under the supervision of Professor Stefan Talmon at Oxford.


Associate Expert

Robin Geiß

Professor Robin Geiß holds the Chair of International Law and Security at the University of Glasgow.

A former legal adviser to the ICRC he is currently director of the “Security Governance in Areas of Limited Statehood”-project at the Collaborative Research Centre 700 in Berlin, managing editor of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, and Rapporteur of the International Law Association’s (ILA) Study Group on the challenges to international humanitarian law in contemporary armed conflicts.

Armand de Mestral

Armand de Mestral is Emeritus Professor at McGill University and holds the Jean Monnet Chair in Law. He was previously the Co-Director of the McGill-Université de Montréal Institute of European Studies (2002- 2008), the Interim Director of the Institute of Air and Space Law (1998-2002), and since 2014 has been a Senior Fellow at the Centre for International Governance Innovation. Professor de Mestral's recent publications include: International Law (7th Ed, 2006; co-author), Law and Practice of International Trade (2nd edition; 1999); The North American Free Trade Agreement – A Comparative Study, Hague Academy of International Law, Receuil des cours (2000). He has been a panelist and arbitrator in disputes under the WTO, CUFTA  and NAFTA. He was a member of the Canadian Delegation to the UN Law of the Sea Conference (1973 -80), a consultant to the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation (NACEC) and the Law Commission of Canada, and was the former President of Canadian Red Cross Society (1999-2001). On 28 December 2007, Professor de Mestral was appointed Member of the Order of Canada.

Marco Sassòli

A citizen of Switzerland and Italy, Marco Sassòli is professor of international law at the University of Geneva, Switzerland. From 2001-2003, he has been professor of international law at the Université du Québec à Montreal, Canada, where he remains associate professor. He is also commissioner and alternate member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

Marco Sassòli graduated as doctor of laws at the University of Basel (Switzerland) and was admitted to the Swiss bar. He has worked from 1985-1997 for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), at the headquarters, inter alia as Deputy Head of its Legal Division, and in conflict areas, inter alia as Head of Delegation in Jordan and Syria and as protection coordinator for the former Yugoslavia. During a sabbatical leave in 2011, he joined again the ICRC delegation in Islamabad. He has also served as registrar at the Swiss Supreme Court, and from 2004-2013 as chair of the board of Geneva Call, an NGO engaging non-State armed actors to respect humanitarian rules. From 2009-2016, he was director of the Department of international law and international organization at the University of Geneva.

He has published on international humanitarian law, human rights law, international criminal law, the sources of international law and the responsibility of states and non-state actors.

Cassandra Steer

Dr. Cassandra Steer is the Wainwright Fellow at McGill Faculty of Law, and was formerly the Executive Director of the McGill Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, and an Arsenualt Fellow in the same institute. Her main research interest is the application of the law of armed conflict to military uses of outer space, and she has published various articles and taught classes on these issues, and on the law and politics of space. She is the Executive Director of Women in International Security Canada, and currently is the member for Canada on the International Law Association Space Law Committee, the Secretary of the IAF Space Security Committee, and a member of the International Institute of Space Law, Women in Aerospace, the NATO Association of Canada, and the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War.

Prior to coming to Canada at the beginning of 2015, Cassandra was a Junior Professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for 8 years, teaching criminal law, international criminal law, public international law, and legal research methods. She holds a B.A. from the University of New South Wales, undergraduate and LLM degrees in Dutch Law and International Law from the University of Amsterdam, and a PhD in International Criminal Law. She has interned at the International Criminal Court under Judge Navi Pillay in 2004, and was a researcher for the Dutch Council of State (Raad van State) in the same year. She has been a Visiting Researcher at universities in Argentina, Canada, Germany and the USA, where she was also a Fulbright Scholar.

Institutional Contributors

Laurent Gisel

Laurent Gisel has been working for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) since 1999. From 1999 to 2003, he carried out assignments in Israel and the Occupied Territories, Eritrea, and Afghanistan, and from 2003 to 2005 he held the position of Deputy Head of Delegation in Nepal. From 2005 to 2008, he served as Diplomatic Adviser to the ICRC Presidency.

Since 2008, Laurent Gisel works in the ICRC Legal Division. As Legal Adviser to the Operations from 2008 to 2013, he covered notably the Western countries, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is currently working in the Thematic Legal Advisers' Unit and is notably the file holder for the rules governing the conduct of hostilities, including in cyber space and outer space, and for the principle of non-refoulement in relation to detainees’ transfers.  

Prior to joining the ICRC, Laurent Gisel became attorney-at-law in Geneva and worked at the Public and Administrative Law Court of the Canton de Vaud. He holds a degree in law from the University of Geneva and a Master in international law from the Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva, Switzerland).


IHL Research Support Team

Research Coordinator:
Kuan-Wei (David) Chen

Mr. Kuan-Wei (David) Chen holds an undergraduate degree in Law and Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, an LLM (cum laude) in Public International Law from Leiden University and an LLM in Air and Space Law from the Institute of Air and Space Law, McGill University, where he was also the Boeing Fellow in Air and Space Law. He attended the International Space University Space Studies Programme (2008) and was a recipient of the Nicolas Mateesco Matte Prize.

He was previously a Teaching and Research Assistant at the Van Vollenhoven Institute for Law, Governance and Development, Leiden University; and the Co-ordinator of the Telders International Law Moot Court at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies. Kuan-Wei was the Editor of the Annals of Air and Space Law (2012-2015), and is currently  the Director of Publications of the Centre for Research in Air and Space Law, and a Sessional Lecturer at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. In addition to being the Research Coordinator of the IHL Group, Kuan-Wei is also the Deputy Project Manager of the Project to draft the McGill Manual on International Law Applicable to Military Uses of Outer Space (MILAMOS).

Research Assistant:
Sandy Belle Habchi

Ms. Sandy Belle Habchi obtained her LLB in Law from the University of Nicosia, during which she took part in the 3rd International Aviation Moot Court. After maintaining the position of a Corporate Officer at Papantoniou & Papantoniou LLC where she dealt with international clients looking to expand their businesses and offices in Cyprus, she became an LLM candidate at the Institute of Air and Space Law. With a focus on “Criminal Litigation in Aviation following an Accident/Incident and its effect on the Investigation Process” for her thesis, on admission she was awarded the Professor Masao Sekiguchi Fellowship in Air and Space Law. Ms. Habchi holds the position of Research Assistant at the Institute, where she assisted in editing and revising chapters in Professor Paul Stephen Dempsey’s upcoming edition of Public International Air Law. She is also an Assistant Editor of the Annals of Air and Space Law, and a Teaching Assistant in the graduate level course Comparative Air Law.


*Please note that all the Experts are participating in their personal capacities and do not represent the organisation, institution or State they are associated with.

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