The International Institute of Humanitarian Law is an independent, “non-profit, humanitarian association having social values as its objectives”, founded in 1970 in Sanremo, Italy. Its headquarters are situated in Villa Ormond. 

The main purpose of the Institute is to promote international humanitarian law. According the Statutes the Institute takes initiatives and carries out activities of a practical and multidisciplinary character, in particular, by organising courses of teaching, training and advanced studies in the fields of international humanitarian law, human rights, refugee law and related issues; by promoting dialogue with a view to fostering better respect and implementation of international law and by organising international conferences, meetings and seminars of scholars and practitioners.

Thanks to its specific, well-tested experience, the Institute has earned an international reputation as a centre of excellence in the field of training, research, and the dissemination of all aspects of international humanitarian law.

Considering the aims it pursues, the Institute works in close collaboration with the most important international organisations dedicated to the humanitarian cause, including the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Organization for Migration (IOM). It has operational relations with the European Union, UNESCO, NATO, the Organisation International de la Francophonie and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

The Institute is composed of six statury bodies namely the General Assembly, the President, the Council, the Executive Board, the Secretary-General and the Treasurer.

Members of the Institute are of different nationalities. In accordance with the Statutes, they are persons that have particularly distinguished themselves through competence or activities in fields of specific interest to the Organisation. Institutions significantly contributing to the work of the Institute may also be admitted as members. Qualified persons and academic institutions, as also nations and international intergovernmental organisations contributing to the activities of the Institute, may be admitted as Associate members but may not vote.

The General Assembly, composed of all Members of the Institute, establishes and guides the general policy of the Institute. It meets in an ordinary session each year to approve the annual budget and final accounts. 

The Council is composed of twelve members elected by the General Assembly for a period of four years, each of whom may be re-elected for a total period of twelve consecutive years. The Council oversees the management of the Institute, determining the programme of activities, elects the President and Vice-Presidents and appoints the Secretary-General and Treasurer, who then form the Executive Board.  The Municipality of Sanremo and the Italian Red Cross are ex officio members of the Council of the Institute.

The President is elected by the Council every four years and may be re-elected for a second consecutive term up to a maximum of eight consecutive years. The President is the Chief Executive Officer of the Institute and has the primary responsibility to ensure that the Institute pursues its purpose and objectives in conformity with the Statutes and the general policy established by the General Assembly. Current President is Judge Fausto Pocar. 

The financial resources of the Institute include membership fees, course participant fees, voluntary contributions of Governments, Institutions or Organisations, and subsidies, bequests or donations. The financial resources of the Institute are modest if compared with the extent of its commitment and activity in a field of increasing interest to the international community.