ICRC Customary Law Database Wins First-ever Jus Gentium Award

The ICRC is honored to receive the American Society of International Law (ASIL) International Legal Research Interest Group’s Jus Gentium Research Award. The ICRC’s Customary International Humanitarian Law Database received the award in recognition of the database’s contribution to providing access to legal resources in international law.

Knut Doermann, Head of the ICRC’s Legal Division in Geneva, said “this is a great recognition of a truly collective effort.”

It’s the first time ASIL has handed out the annual award, which recognizes “important contributions in the area of providing and enhancing legal information resources in international law” as well as efforts to make resources freely available that “enhance both scholarship and open access to legal information.”

The British Red Cross has been the ICRC’s partner for the update of the customary IHL practice section since 2007, while ICRC delegations, National Societies, researchers, and universities around the world have also been involved in collecting and processing resources for the database. Since last year, Laval University in Canada has also contributed to the database with the analysis of international practice.

As Wanita Scroggs of the International Legal Research Interest Group writes:

The [ICRC’s] Customary IHL Database, launched in 2010, is a free, digitized, and updated version of the oft-cited 2005 comprehensive, landmark three-volume ICRC study of customary international humanitarian law originally published by Cambridge University Press. The database is an exceptionally well-structured, easy-to-navigate, and indispensable research tool frequently used by international law practitioners and scholars. It contains customary international humanitarian law rules, with commentary, in multiple languages (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish). A second part of the database describes, in English, national practices under the rules. A link from the Customary IHL Database to the ICRC's Treaty Database and National Implementation Database provides access to full texts of primary law sources.

It has been ten years since the ICRC’s ground-breaking study, and 2015 is the fifth anniversary of the launch of the Customary IHL Database. The ICRC’s Customary International Humanitarian Law Database is a well-deserved recipient of the first Jus Gentium Research Award.


ICRC Thematic Legal Advisor, Iris Mueller, accepted the award on behalf of the humanitarian organization at ASIL’s annual meeting in Washington DC earlier this Spring..