Ilja Van Hespen

Ilja Van Hespen

Drs. Ilja Van Hespen is Lieutenant-Commander in the Belgian Navy. Since January 2019 he is the Head of the Section Governance of the Naval Policy Staff of the Operational Command.

As a PhD Candidate in Social and Military Sciences at the Royal Military Academy (KMS) and a PhD Candidate in Law at Ghent University (U Gent) and the Free University of Brussels (VUB), he prepares a doctoral thesis under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Em. Eduard Somers (UGent), Prof. Dr. Frank Maes (UGent), Prof. Dr. Erik Franckx (VUB) and Prof. Dr. Stanislas Horvat (KMS), titled ‘How to build and implement an effective and efficient legal system to combat violence (maritime terrorism, piracy, drugs) at sea?’

He is also a Researcher at the Rolin-Jaequemyns International Law Institute Ghent.

Ilja Van Hespen has completed a Master in Military and Nautical Sciences and a Master of Science in Business Engineering.
He has started his military career in 1990.

His professional experience includes a period as deck officer on board mine hunters and on board the Belgian frigate F912 Wandelaar.

As such, in 2003, he has participated in the counterdrugs operation ‘West Shark’ in the Caribbean. From 2004 to 2009 he was a Procurement Officer within the Procurement Division of the General Directorate Material Resources.

In 2010 he contributed to the fight against maritime piracy in the Horn of Africa as Information Operations Officer for the European Union in the Operational Headquarters of the European Union Naval Forces (EUNAVFOR) in Northwood (UK).

From 2010 to 2012 he was a Faculty Member of the Department of Economics, Management and Leadership within the Faculty of Social and Military Sciences of the Royal Military Academy. Since 2012 he is a Faculty Member of the Chair of Law.

From 2012 to 2019 he was a Faculty Member of the Chair of Law of the Department of Behavioral Sciences of the Faculty of Social and Military Sciences of the Royal Military Academy, teaching classes in the fields of criminal law, public international law, international humanitarian law and maritime law.

His research focuses on legal issues related to all violent acts in the maritime domain, such as maritime piracy, drugs trafficking or maritime terrorism.

He has participated as a contributor to several conferences (London, Antwerp, Compiègne) in the field of maritime security.

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