The International Society for Military Law and the Law of War is an international non-profit and non-political association under Belgian law. The Society was created in Strasbourg (France) in 1956 and has its seat as well as its General Secretariat in Brussels (Belgium) since 1988, currently at the Royal Military Academy of the Belgian Armed Forces.
The Society's statutory aim is to study and disseminate international humanitarian law, military law, the law of peace operations, and related legal domains. To this end, the Society organizes Congresses, Conferences and Seminars in various countries. The last Congresses were held in Rome, Italy (2003), The Hague, the Netherlands (2006), Tunis, Tunisia (2009), Quebec City, Canada (2012) and Prague, the Czech Republic (2015).
The most recent Seminars and Conferences took place in Strasbourg, France (2006), Windhoek, Namibia (2008), Riga, Latvia (2010), Beijing, China (2011), Santiago de Chile (2013), Galway, Ireland (2014), Ypres, Belgium (2014) and Bogotá, Colombia (2014). The Society gratefully acknowledges the substantial support by Host Country authorities, particularly by the respective Ministers of Defence and national (military) legal services.
The Society counts approximately 900 members worldwide, among whom many military and civilian legal advisors, judges and prosecutors. The academic community is also well represented in the Society’s membership. The International Society is also an umbrella organization for 22 so-called National Groups; these are separate and independent entities, which organize their own national activities, pursuant to the same objective as the International Society.
The activities of the Society are open to members and non-members. Under the auspices of the Society, the Military Law and the Law of War Review and a News Flash are published.
The Society’s members, convened in the General Assembly, form the highest authority within the Society. A Board of Directors, responsible for major and strategic decisions, and a Managing Board, for management of current affairs, govern the Society. At present, the President of the Society is mr Jan Peter Spijk, Brigadier General (ret.), former Judge Advocate General from the Netherlands; the current Secretary-General is mr Ludwig Van Der Veken, Chief of the Cabinet of the Secretary of State of Foreign Trade in the Government of the Kingdom of Belgium.
The Society holds consultative status with the United Nations since 1997.