When Henry Dunant witnessed the battle of Solferino in 1859 he was shocked by the fact that the combatants were left behind on the battlefield. No one looked after the wounded and dead. Henry Dunant was determined to do something about this horrible situation and decided to draft a standard of conduct for warring parties in a period of war. This ultimately led to the establishment of the rules and norms of warfare and the establishment of international humanitarian law and of the International Red Cross. The most important and modernized treaties of international humanitarian law are the Geneva Conventions (1949) and its additional protocols (1977 and 2005). But what is humanitarian law? In what cases and situations is it applicable? What is the difference between ius ad bellum and ius in bello? Is international humanitarian law applicable in all types of conflicts: international war, internationalized wars and civil wars? What is the relationship between international humanitarian law and international human rights law? What is the rationale behind these areas of law? What is their history and what are their commonalities and differences? And how does international criminal law fit in?

The trials at Nuremberg mark the birth of the international criminal justice system.  It was the very first time that perpetrators of international crimes were held individually criminally responsible for their crimes for an international criminal tribunal.  How important were these trials and why did it take so long for an international criminal court to be established? What happened in the meantime? What international criminal courts and tribunals were established and for which crimes do they have jurisdiction? What other courts and tribunals were established and what can we learn from comparing these courts and tribunals? Where is international criminal law heading? How important are national criminal prosecutions? What are the alternatives to international criminal prosecutions? What are the advantages and disadvantages of international criminal prosecutions compared to national criminal prosecutions? To what extent is international criminal law comparable to national criminal law? What are the differences between prosecuting ordinary and common crimes compared to international crimes? What are the difficulties prosecutors have to deal with when prosecuting international crimes? What are the particularities of international crimes which must be taken into account when prosecuting these crimes?


IMG 3989 IMG 3994


  • - History of humanitarian law 
  • - Rationale behind international humanitarian law
  • - Concepts of international humanitarian law
  • - Geneva Conventions
  • - The birth of international criminal law
  • - The war crimes tribunals in Nuremberg and Tokyo
  • - The international criminal tribunals of former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rwanda (ICTR)
  • - The hybrid and mixed courts
  • - The history of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • - The Statute and jurisprudence of the International Criminal Court (ICC)
  • - National prosecution of international crimes
  • - The Dutch criminal code on war crimes (WOS) and the Dutch law on international crimes (WIM)
  • - The Dutch jurisprudence in international crimes cases
  • - Alternatives to criminal prosecutions
  • - Truth and reconciliation commissions

Target audience


Lectures, workshops, courses and training on these themes can be given to almost any audience: professionals, policy makers, lawyers, people working at NGOs, police officers, soldiers, fellow scholars, students, schoolchildren or the general public. Single lectures of 45 minutes up to 2 hours can be given but also workshops which last half a day, a training which can last from half day up to one week or a complete course which is taught in regularly weekly meetings during a full semester.




Alette Smeulers has many years of experience in teaching academic courses on international crimes in academia. She has given many lectures and guest lectures on international crimes and has presented numerous papers on these themes. She has given these lectures and presented papers to a huge variety of audiences. All her courses and papers were very well evaluated.

Alette Smeulers has been teaching both lawyers and non-lawyers in international criminal and humanitarian law. Because of her own inter- and multidisciplinary background she is capable of understanding the difficulties of both lawyers and non-lawyers in translating social data into legal evidence and vice versa. She is furthermore able to add valuable criminological and sociological insights to understanding the law from a purely legal perspective.

Academic courses taught

  • - Criminal justice systems - bachelor - Amsterdam University College (2015-2016)
  • - International crimes - master - University of Groningen (2015-2016)
  • - International and European Criminal Law – Bachelor course - Tilburg University (2013-2014)
  • - Criminal Law in Context – Bachelor course - Tilburg University (2011-2014)
  • - International criminal and humanitarian law – Master course - Maastricht University (2003-2006)
  • - Internationaal strafrecht – Master course - Maastricht University (1998-2004)

 Guest lectures and presentations 

  • - De Wet Internationale Misdrijven, PAO-course Court The Hague, The Hague, 9 October 2014.
  • - Sixty-five years of international criminal justice, Supranational Criminal Law Lectures, The Hague, 5 June 2013.
  • - The International criminal justice system: functioning, accomplishments and deterrent effect, University of Leeds, Leeds, United Kingdom 23 November 2012.
  • - Where is criminology in transitional justice, Brussels, Belgium, 5-6 December 2011.
  • - Attributing guilt and sentencing of various types of perpetrators, key note international expert-meeting in Amsterdam,19 June 2009.
  • - Individuele aansprakelijkheid versus collectieve verantwoordelijkheid, Tilburg University, 4 December 2009.
  • - Criminology discovers international criminal law, International Studies Association (ISA), New York, United States, 15 February 2009.
  • - The banality of evil on trial, World Congress of Criminology, Stockholm, Sweden 18 June 2006.
  • - Folteraars en individuele strafrechtelijke aansprakelijkheid, University of Leiden, 24 May 2005.
  • - Alternatives to prosecution’ International summer school on supranational criminal law organised by Asser Institute and the Grotius Centre, The Hague, 4 July 2005.