News & events 2021

Tom Ruys

On Thursday 16 December at 16.30, GRILI will host an online guest lecture with Dr. Mohamed Helal (Ohio State University) on the international law aspects of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) (for some of his previous writings on the issue, see here).

The event is open to all interested participants. External participants are, however, required to register beforehand by sending an e-mail to kristien.ballegeer@ugent.Be.

Mohamed HELAL is an Associate Professor of Law at the Michael E. Moritz College of Law. In 2020, he was elected to serve a five-year term on the African Union Commission of International Law, and in 2021 he was appointed to the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA). Dr. Helal specializes in Public International Law. His work has appeared in leading peer-reviewed journals including the European Journal of International Law, Global Constitutionalism, Climate Law, the American Journal of International Law – Unbound, the Florida Tax Review, the Harvard National Security Journal, the N.Y.U. Journal of International Law & Politics, and the Fordham International Law Journal.

Dr. Helal has substantial policy experience in the field of international law through many years of service as a diplomat and as an international civil servant. During the period 2019-2021, Dr. Helal served as the Legal Counsel to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt where he also advised on issues relating to African Affairs and relations with Nile Basin States. Earlier in his career, Dr. Helal also served on the Cabinet of the Secretary General of the League of Arab States during 2002 and 2003. He also joined the Egyptian Diplomatic Corps in 2004 and became a member of the Cabinet of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt from 2005 until 2009. During that period, he worked on issues relating to Multilateral Diplomacy and International Organizations, with a focus on human rights and humanitarian affairs at the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.  In 2011, Dr. Helal joined the Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry (BICI) as the commission’s legal officer, and he also served as the legal counsel to the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt during 2016. 

Conference: 'Taming the many-headed monster? Secondary Sanctions in the International Legal Order'

On Thursday 2 and Friday 3 December 2021, the Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI) and the Utrecht Centre for Regulation and Enforcement in Europe (RENFORCE) will host a two-day international conference on secondary sanctions. The conference seeks to explore both the international legal framework governing such sanctions and the potential remedies to challenge them, as well as how these measures may shape the international legal order. The conference will feature separate panels devoted to discuss the impact of secondary sanctions; their compatibility with the law of jurisdiction and international economic law, and; to commercial practices and domestic litigation pertaining to secondary sanctions. A final panel will offer an outlook for the future, having regard, for instance, to the preparation of an EU ‘anti-coercion instrument’.

The conference programme can be found here. The conference will take place at the 'Pand' conference venue in Ghent, but can also be attended online. For registration, please use the following link.

Luca Ferro
Online seminar on ecocide with Cristina Voigt and Kevin Jon Heller

On Wednesday 17 November 2021, from 13.00-14.15, the Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI) will host an online seminar on the crime of ecocide featuring two highly knowledgable speakers: Prof. Christina Voigt (University of Oslo, member of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide) and Prof. Kevin Jon Heller (University of Copenhagen). For a preview of their debate, see a series of blog posts (here, here, here, and here).

Christina Voigt is a renowned expert in international environmental law and professor at the University of Oslo. For more than 10 years, she also worked as legal adviser and negotiator for the Government of Norway in the UN climate negotiations. She is currently the first co-chair of the Paris Agreement's Compliance and Implementation Committee. Professor Voigt is the chair of the Climate Change Specialist Group of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and a member of the IUCN Climate Change Task Force. 

Kevin Jon Heller is Professor of International Law and Security at the Centre for Military Studies (CMS), University of Copenhagen.  He has published widely on topics of international criminal law and co-edited the Oxford Handbook of International Criminal Law (Oxford University Press 2020). Professor Heller has extensive experience in the practice of international law, and has been involved in the International Criminal Court’s negotiations over the crime of aggression . He is a permanent member of the international-law blog Opinio Juris, which is sponsored by the International Commission of Jurists.

Please register using this link - after which we will send you the video conference invite in due time!

Sebastiaan Van Severen
The Historical Turn in International Economic Law – A Roundtable Discussion

The historical turn in international has been followed by various subdisciplinary turns to, for example, the history of human rights law, international humanitarian law and international criminal law. Nevertheless, the origins and history of international economic law has received less attention from both international economic lawyers and international legal historians. This roundtable will reflect on the current state of the art, its gaps and potential avenues for future research, in particular with respect to interdisciplinarity, periodization, method, the role of non-state actors and eurocentrism.


  • Drs. Filip Batselé (Ghent University – Université Libre de Bruxelles, Ghent Legal History Institute – Centre de droit international)
  • Dr. Gustavo Prieto (Ghent University, Human Rights Center - Human Rights in Context)
  • Drs. Florenz Volkaert (Ghent University, Ghent Legal History Institute)

Introduction by:

Prof. Dr. Em. Ernst-Ulrich Petersmann (European University Institute): ‘Reflections on the history of international economic law’


  • Dr. Mona Pinchis-Paulsen (London School of Economics)
  • Dr. Sabine Pitteloud (Université de Genève)
  • Dr. Raphaël Lima Sakr (University of Sheffield)
  • Moderated by Dr. Gustavo Prieto

Jointly hosted by the Ghent Legal History Institute, the Ghent Rolin-Jacquemyns Institute and Contextual Research in Law (Free University of Brussels), in collaboration with the ESIL Interest Groups International Economic Law and History of International Law.

12.10.2021 – 12h30-14h (Zoom-link to register)


Tom Ruys
Book launch: 'Complementarity, catalysts, compliance' by Christian M. De Vos

On Thursday 1 July 2021, from 15.30-16.30 PM CEST, the Human Rights Centre (HRC) and Ghent Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute (GRILI) cordially invite you to the launch of Christian De Vos' new book Complementarity, Catalysts, Compliance: The International Criminal Court in Uganda, Kenya and the Democratic Republic of Congo (Cambridge University Press 2020).

No registration is required. Participants can join this event through this link, but need to be logged into their Zoom account. (Meeting ID: 910 2359 2970; Password: 0QEsq3nt).

Book description: Since its establishment at the turn of the century, a central preoccupation of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has been to catalyse the pursuit of criminal accountability at the domestic level. Drawing on ten years of research, this book theorizes the ICC's principle of complementarity as a transnational site and adaptive strategy for realizing an array of ambitious governance goals. Through a grounded, inter-disciplinary approach, it illustrates how complementarity came to be framed as a 'catalyst for compliance' and its unexpected effects on the legal frameworks and institutions of three different ICC 'situation countries' in Africa: Uganda, Kenya, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Linking complementarity's law and practice to contemporary debates in international law and relations, the book unsettles international law's dominant progressive narrative. It urges a critical rethinking of the ICC's politics and a reorientation towards international criminal justice as a project of global legal pluralism.

Luca Ferro
Crash course and lecture by Andrea Bianchi


On 28 May 2021, Andrea Bianchi will give a public lecture (from 09.00-10.30) as part of the 2020-21 International Order & Justice Lecture Series at Ghent University (Volume III). The title of the lecture is 'Knowledge Production in International Law'. (Online) participation in the public lecture is free of charge, but prior registration is required. Those interested in participating can confirm their attendance to in order to receive the link to the meeting.

On 27 May 2021, Prof. Bianchi will also give a crash course on international legal theories to (post-)doctoral researchers.

Andrea Bianchi is a Full Professor of International Law at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva since 2002. His publications address topics that range from international legal theory and treaty interpretation, human rights and international humanitarian law, terrorism and counterterrorism, to the law of jurisdiction and jurisdictional immunities, state responsibility, non-state actors, and the law of treaties. Prof. Bianchi has been a Visiting Professor at King’s College London, the University of Vienna Faculty of Law, the Catholic University in Milan and the University of Paris 1 (La Sorbonne). He has consulted for international organizations on matters related to security and human rights; and for multinational corporations on business and human rights issues.  In 2015 he appeared as counsel before the European Court of Human Rights Grand Chamber in the Al-Dulimi case. Between 2010 and 2014 he served as a designated member of the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on Terrorism. He co-chaired (with Michael Wood) the working group on the use of force that led to the Leiden Policy Recommendations on Counterterrorism and International Law (2010). In 2001 he was among the founders of the European Society of International Law in which Executive Council he sat until 2010.

For all practical information, see the Lecture Series and Specialist Course flyers!

Luca Ferro
Lecture by Hélène Ruiz-Fabri

On 22 April 2021, Hélène Ruiz-Fabri will give a public lecture as part of the 2020-21 International Order & Justice Lecture Series at Ghent University (Volume III).  The title of the lecture is 'The Power of Procedure at International Courts and Tribunals' and will take place from 14.00-15.30. Prof. Ruiz-Fabri will also take part in a closed seminar (from 12.00-13.30) with (post-)doctoral researchers.

Professor Hélène Ruiz Fabri has degrees in law and political science and a Doctorate from the University of Bordeaux. Before becoming Director of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law in 2014, she was professor at the Sorbonne Law School (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne) of which she has been Dean for four years. She has published extensively in the fields of WTO Law and International Dispute Resolution, and in Constitutional Law. She also has expertise at the Council of Europe (as a legal consultant on the ratification and the implementation of the European Convention on Human Rights in East European countries), at the French administration and at the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (as a legal consultant on the cultural diversity).

For all practical information, see the Lecture Series and Specialist Course flyers!

Luca Ferro
Lecture by Martti Koskenniemi

On 31 March 2021, Martti Koskenniemi will give a public lecture as part of the 2020-21 'Seminar: Foreign Chair' lecture series at Ghent University.  The title of the lecture is 'Global Governance and International Law: Dealing with the Backlash' and will take place from 18.00-19.30. On 2 April 2021, Prof. Koskenniemi will also take part in a closed seminar (from 12.00-14.00) with (post-)doctoral researchers as part of the 2020-2021 International Order & Justice lecture series at Ghent University (Volume III). Both events will take place online.

Martti Koskenniemi is Professor of International Law at the University of Helsinki, and Director of Erik Castren Institute of International Law and Human Rights. He is also a member of the Institut de Droit International and a Fellow of the British Academy. Prof. Koskenniemi is also a member of advisory bodies at the Institute of Global Law and Policy (Harvard University) and Max Planck Institute for International and Comparative Law (Heidelberg). He served as a member of the Finnish diplomatic service from 1978-1994, lastly as Director of the Division of International Law, and was a member of the International Law Commission (UN) in 2002-2006. His main publications include “From Apology to Utopia; The Structure of International Legal Argument” (1989/2005), “The Gentle Civilizer of Nations: The Rise and Fall of International Law 1870-1960” (2001) and “The Politics of International Law (2011)”. He is currently finalizing work on his new book “To the Uttermost Parts of the Earth: Legal Imagination and International Power 1300–1870” (2021) which will focus on the history of international legal thought from the late medieval period to the 19th century.

For the public lecture, please register before Tuesday 30 March 2021 by e-mail to Febe Inghelbrecht. For the (post-)doctoral seminar, please register by e-mail to Kristien Ballegeer

Luca Ferro
lecture by William Schabas

On 2 March 2021, William Schabas will give a public lecture (from 10.00-11.30) as part of the 2020-21 International Order & Justice Lecture Series at Ghent University (Volume III). The title of the lecture is 'Developments in the international law of genocide' Professor Schabas will also take part in a closed seminar (from 12.30-13.30) with (post-)doctoral researchers.

Professor Schabas is professor of international law at Middlesex University in London. He is also, among other appointments, professor of international human law and human rights at Leiden University, emeritus professor of human rights law at the National University of Ireland Galway and honorary chairman of the Irish Centre for Human Rights. He is the author of more than twenty books dealing in whole or in part with international human rights law and more than 350 articles in academic journals, principally in the field of international human rights law and international criminal law. Professor Schabas is a 'door tenant' at the chambers of 9 Bedford Row, in London and has practised at the international level, appearing before the International Court of Justice, most recently in The Gambia v Myanmar case, the Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court.

For all practical information, see the Lecture Series and Specialist Course flyers!

Seminar: The ICC's territorial jurisdiction in Palestine


On 5 February 2021, the the ICC Pre-Trial Chamber decided that the ICC has jurisdiction in respect of the situation in Palestine. In an attempt to explore this decision, GRILI invites you to a digital lunch seminar on Thursday 4 March 2021, from 12:30 to 01:30 pm. Two experts will discuss the ICC's stance on the issue of territorial jurisdiction. 

Attendance is free of charge. To register and receive a Teams Invitation, please send an e-mail to the GRILI Secretariat:

Dr. Giulia Pinzauti is an Assistant Professor at Leiden University. Prior to joining Leiden's Grotius Centre, she served as an associate legal officer at the International Court of Justice (2015-2016) and in the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and the Mechanism for International Criminal Tribunals (2012-2014).



Dr. Daphne Richemond-Barak is Assistant Professor at the Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy and Head of the International Law Desk at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism, IDC Herzliya.