International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative
Established in 2002, the International Humanitarian Law Research Initiative (IHLRI) is a research, policy and information project that promotes a scientific approach to emerging challenges in the implementation of IHL, including such issues as the increasing participation and targeting of civilians, the evolving use of high-tech warfare in asymmetrical conflicts and the spread of suicide attacks against civilians. In support of this mission, IHLRI aims (i) to develop an international network of scholars, policymakers and humanitarian practitioners on related themes and (ii) to serve as a central resource for initiatives related to the reaffirmation and development of IHL. This project was created as an independent expert-driven initiative to complement other law-making and implementation efforts led by states, the International Committee of the Red Cross and international governmental organizations.
Two central elements of IHLRI include the IHL Research Portal and a series of informal expert meetings. Regularly updated by a team of Harvard-based researchers, the IHL Portal offers access to a comprehensive database of on-line academic and policy-oriented research materials related to international humanitarian law. Concurrently, Informal, High-Level Expert Meetings were held in January 2003, June 2004 and May 2006 to facilitate information sharing between state and independent experts. Co-organized with the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, these meetings aim to advance a debate on key challenges to IHL and promote research and policy activities on these challenges in cooperation with the academic community.