Multi-Institutional Workshop Focused on the Law of Armed Conflict

On 23 May, the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law (CIHOL) in collaboration with the University of Ferrara, Dipartmento Giurisprudenza hosted a joint hybrid workshop on the law of armed conflict and its various pertinent aspects.

The topics included identification and classification of armed conflicts, namely international and non-international armed conflicts (IAC and NIAC), law enforcement in occupied territories, targeting of critical civilian infrastructure, distinctions between mercenaries and private military companies and the use of autonomous weapons systems.

Speakers included Prof. Martha Bradley (University of Johannesburg); Dr Petr Stejskal (Palacký University, CIHOL); Dr Marko Svicevic (Palacký University, CIHOL); Prof. Alessandra Annoni (University of Ferrara); Marco Giulio Tasso (Commando RSSG, Poggio Renatico) and Dr Diego Mauri (University of Palermo).

The workshop was attended by Czech and Italian academics, military personnel and students. Particular emphasis was placed on combining theoretical frameworks with practical application, including examples of past and current armed conflicts.

The event was organized as a result of an ongoing partnership between CIHOL and the University of Ferrara and served as a platform for furthering education and enhancing the Centre’s longstanding cooperation with the armed forces.


Centre Experts Engage in International Law Dialogues with Czech Armed Forces Legal Staff

Recently, members of the Centre have been actively engaging with the Czech Armed Forces to share their international law expertise through several events.

From April 23 to 25, they joined the V4 International Legal Conference in Prague, organised by the Legal Service of the Czech Armed Forces' General Staff Inspectorate. The event, titled "New Challenges of International Law in a Changed Security Environment," drew legal experts from the armed forces of several countries including the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Ukraine, Romania, the United States, and the Baltic countries.

During the conference, Prof. Svaček discussed the ongoing war in Ukraine and its implications before international courts. Dr Stejskal explored the legality of targeting civilian infrastructure in armed conflicts, while Drs Faix and Svicevic delved into the protection of cultural heritage during warfare.

In subsequent days, the Centre’s team continued their lectures at various forums. Dr Stejskal spoke on the international humanitarian law (IHL) aspects of using intelligence and reconnaissance units at the 102nd Reconnaissance Battalion in Prostějov. Meanwhile, Dr Svicevic gave insights on the status of mercenaries and private military companies in conflicts. Both members also presented at a meeting of the legal service of the 53rd Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare Regiment, where Dr Svicevic additionally discussed international law issues surrounding NATO's 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia.


Film Screening and discussion with former ICTY investigator Vladimír Dzuro

On 9 March, the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law hosted a screening of the documentary “The Investigator” with special guests Vladimír Dzuro and Michal Vývoda.

Mr Dzuro spent 10 years working as the first Czech investigator for the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia. He then worked as Chief of Headquarters Office at the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services in New York. The documentary is inspired by his book “The Investigator: Demons of the Balkan War.” It follows him as he revisits some of the places of investigation more than 25 years after the arrest of Slavko Dokmanović and offers unique interviews with the survivors of the heinous crimes.

The screening was followed by a lecture CIHOL member Dr Petr Stejskal, who examined the legality of the arrest of Dokmanović.

Michal Vývoda, Head of International Crimes Investigation Unit of the EU Advisory Mission Ukraine, subsequently spoke of his experience with tackling the investigation of war crimes in today’s climate of modern technologies and new challenges on the horizon. Mr Vývoda highlighted intersections between international humanitarian law and national prosecution of war crimes, for example in the definition of some criminal offences in national penal codes.

The screening, bringing together some 250 attendees, concluded with a discussion open to the audience.



International workshop on Legal and Practical Challenges to National Implementation of EU Sanctions concerning the Situation in Ukraine

On 8 March, the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law (CIHOL) together with the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana held a combined workshop on ‘Legal and Practical Challenges to National Implementation of EU Sanctions concerning the Situation in Ukraine’. The workshop was hosted by the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana and joined academics and State practitioners to consider challenges arising from EU sanctions implementation. Speakers included Prof. Dr Gerhard Hafner from the University of Vienna, Dr Marko Rakovec of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovenia, and Dr Clara Portela from the University of Valencia. The workshop gathered academics and practitioners from seven EU States for inputs.

The workshop was followed by a roundtable discussion chaired by CIHOL’s Dr Martin Faix, which provided a platform for public engagements with experts and practitioners.

The workshop forms part of ongoing cooperation between CIHOL and the Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana in the context of legal issues arising from the war in Ukraine.


Czech Republic publishes position paper on the application of international law in cyberspace

The Czech Republic has joined a host of nations and organisations pronouncing on the applicability of international law in cyberspace (see here for the various positions). On 27 February, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic formally published its Position Paper on the Application of International Law in Cyberspace. The position paper, developed in cooperation with the Ministry of Defence and the National Cyber and Information Security Agency, highlights the official position of the Czech Republic on eleven key issues: state sovereignty, the prohibition of intervention; peaceful settlement of disputes; the use of force; the law of neutrality; international humanitarian law; international human rights law; State responsibility and attribution; retorsion; and circumstances precluding wrongfulness. For more information and analysis, see the brief below.


International workshop co-organised with the Centre for European Legal Studies on Macro-Crimes of the University of Ferrara

On 14 February, the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law in collaboration with the Centre for European Legal Studies on Macro-Crimes of the University of Ferrara hosted a hybrid workshop on pursuing accountability for international crimes in Ukraine. The workshop was organised primarily for the Czech and Italian armed forces who represented the majority of attendees. The workshop took place simultaneously in Olomouc and Ferrara via videoconference. The workshop focused on various aspects of international criminal justice, covered by Czech and Italian experts respectively.

These aspects included State cooperation in the investigation of war crimes by the International Criminal Court, the establishment of a special tribunal for Ukraine, and the arrest warrant issued against Russian President Vladimir Putin. Speakers included Prof. Alessandra Annoni (University of Ferrara); Prof. Mirko Sossai (Roma Tre University); Prof. Ondřej Svaček (Palacký University); Dr Milan Lipovský (Charles University Prague); Prof. Emanuele Cimiotta (La Sapienza University) and Mgr. Petra Benešova (Ministry of the Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic).



CIHOL at the Annual Meeting of the Legal Service of Czech Armed Forces

Martin Faix, Head of the CIHOL, was invited to present a lecture on the "International Law Aspects of Developments in Ukraine after 2014" at the annual meeting of the Czech Armed Forces´ Legal Service. The meeting of some 60 military lawyers took place at the Chateau Komorní Hrádek and was a great opportunity to enhance the cooperation between CIHOL and the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic.


Cooperation with the 53rd Regiment of Reconnaissance and Electronic Warfare

Members of the Centre, dr. Martin Faix, dr. Petr Stejskal and dr. Marko Svicevic, actively participated in the assembly of the legal service of the 53rd regiment of reconnaissance and electronic warfare of the Czech Armed Forces.

The director of the Centre, dr. Faix, introduced the tasks and functions of the Centre. Dr. Stejskal contributed with lecture on the topic of the belligerent occupation (treatment of protected persons, duties of the occupation administration, operational challenges). Dr. Svicevic then contributed with lecture on the topic of crimes under international law (their classification and distinction, especially during armed conflict).


Call for Abstracts: International Law and the Regulation of Resort to Force: Exhaustion, Destruction, Rebirth? (Olomouc, 14 - 15 September 2023)

The CIHOL, in collaboration with the Institute for International Law and International Relations at the Faculty of Law of the University of Graz, are accepting papers and panel proposals for an ESIL supported conference to take place on 14–15 September 2023 in Olomouc, the Czech Republic. The conference will examine selected issues pertaining to the jus ad bellum. The conference will also include selected poster submissions on the teaching of international law on the use of force.

Call for papers/panels/posters and all relevant information is available at:

CIHOL members examine the conflict in Ukraine from the perspective of international law

The Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law (CIHOL) is committed to providing expertise not only to students and researchers but also to society at large. Recent events have shown a strong interest in international law aspects of current events unfolding in Ukraine. CIHOL members Pavel Bureš, Martin Faix, Ondřej Svaček and Petr Stejskal recently organised a roundtable discussion, the goal of which was to address the main aspects of the armed conflict in Ukraine in a complex yet understandable way. The audience consisted of some 600 online viewers during the roundtable discussion, which was streamed online. A further 6000 views were recorded within the first 24 hours after the roundtable discussion took place, confirming the high demand for reliable, complex and understandable sources of expertise on international law aspects of the conflict.

The event was divided into four short contributions each of which was followed by discussion with audience members. In his introductory remarks, CIHOL head Martin Faix highlighted the paramount importance of the prohibition of the use of force in international relations and in international law. He also briefly explained how this principle changed and shaped the landscape of international law in the aftermath of World War II. Pavel Bureš then spoke about the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk People Republics by the Russian Federation and the legality of this step under international law. The contribution thereafter was delivered by Dr Faix who spoke about the legality of the use of force in international law. Among other things, Dr Faix explained why the exception of self-defence is not applicable in the case of Russian aggression. Ondřej Svaček then focused on aspects connected to international criminal law. He answered four basic questions related to the conflict: Where crimes committed in Ukraine can be prosecuted? Which acts can be prosecuted? Who can be prosecuted? And who can prosecute these crimes? Finally, as. prof. Svaček stressed that even the Czech Republic itself is capable of prosecuting crimes committed in Ukraine under its national laws. In the last contribution, Petr Stejskal examined sanctions against the Russian Federation, including “smart sanctions” focused on individuals. Dr Stejskal concluded that sanctions recently imposed on the Russian Federation are legal in this situation.

In the following discussion, a number of related topics were opened such as protection of civilian populations during the conflict, protection of prisoners of war, the use of nuclear weapons and the possible expulsion of the Russian Federation from the United Nations.

The record of the event is available in the link below (in Czech):

Head of CIHOL commenting Russian aggression against Ukraine in the media

Dr. Martin Faix, head of CIHOL and lecturer at the Palacky University in Olomouc, regularly comments on legal aspects of Russian invasion to Ukraine. During the last weeks, he has been invited by several media including Český rozhlas (Czech Radio, public radio broadcaster) and Česká televize (Czech Television, public television broadcaster) to explain legality of Russian actions under international law. In his appearances, he focused mostly on the legality of the use of force by Russian Federation and analysis whether the act of aggression has been committed by the latter.


The Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law issued its official statement on Russian invasion to Ukraine

The Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law issued its official statement on Russian invasion to Ukraine. The statement assesses the situation from the point of view of international law. It is available in Czech and English version.

Statements are available here (ENG version) and here (CZE version)


Lecture on "Lethal propaganda - fake news in post-conflict environment" by Vladimír Dzuro (06 December 2021)

Mr. Dzuro currently works as Chief of Headquaters Office at the UN Office of Internal Oversight Services in New York. He shared his experience with investigation in former Yugoslavia and spoke about arresting war criminals and mass grave exhumation. On real examples, he also demonstrated the dangerousness of disinformation in conflict scenario.

The lecture was also contributed by Kamil Sládek, historian and ethnologist, who provided historical and factual background of the conflict in former Yugoslavia, and by our member, Petr Stejskal, who examined legality of the arrest of Slavko Dokmanović.

The event was also streamed online and you can see the record of the lecture (in Czech language) here:

Scientific Prize Awarded to our Member

We are pleased to announce that our member, dr. Petr Stejskal, has been awarded Jacques Derrida Prize for Social and Humanitarian Sciences by the French Embassy in Prague and Karel Janeček Foundation. His research focused on the protection of foreign investment during armed conflict ranked second place in the competition. The evaulating committee appreciated innovative attitude towards research, topicality of examined topics and international significance. The award includes financial support for a one month stay at a scientific institution in France. Congratulations!

Cyber Incident Scenario part of NATO CCDCOE Interactive Cyber Law Toolkit

Hybrid threats are closely related to cyberspace and cannot be omitted in modern warfare and security assessment. Our members, Martin Faix and Petr Stejskal, prepared a  scenario on “Misattribution caused by deception” for the Cyber Law Toolkit project. The project is supported by the NATO Co-operative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (NATO CCDCOE), NÚKIB and the ICRC.

Hybrid threats, information operations and deception are closely related to cyberspace and cannot be omitted in modern warfare and security assessment. Members of the Centre for International Humanitarian and Operational Law, Martin Faix and Petr Stejskal, prepared an expert contribution for the Cyber Law Toolkit operated under the auspices of the NATO CCDCOE, ICRC, NÚKIB, US Nawal War College and several other expert bodies. Their analysis focused on cyber deception in international law. Publication of new scenarios for the Cyber Law Toolkit was announced at the 2021 CyberCon conference in Brno.

The Cyber Law Toolkit is an online resource for legal professionals who work with matters at the intersection of international law and cyber operations. At its core, it presently consists of 24 hypothetical scenarios. Each scenario contains a description of cyber incidents inspired by real-world examples, accompanied by detailed legal analysis.

The scenario prepared by our members formulates a model scenario of a cyber deception followed by misattribution and cyber attack against critical infrastructure. The topic chosen reflects the increasing sophistication of hostile cyber incidents and raises challenging legal questions.


Photo licensed from Shutterstock (original URL)


National Security Council Award granted to UP Faculty of Law

The Palacký University Olomouc Faculty of Law is the laureate of the 2020 National Security Council Award for significant contribution to the security policy of the Czech Republic, decided at its Monday meeting. In this way, the Council thus appreciated the long-term and progressive work of the faculty in matters of security and in the field of international humanitarian and operational law. Read more

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