Virtual Seminar: COVID-19 and international humanitarian law

COVID-19 has exacerbated the already difficult situation in many war-torn countries. Civilians in States weakened by years of conflict or persons who are internally displaced have proven particularly exposed to risk. Border restrictions complicate the delivery of humanitarian relief. The pandemic may even create incentives for an escalation of hostilities. This topical seminar explored these important issues and the application of international humanitarian law during the pandemic.

The speakers for this seminar were:

Professor Chiara Giorgetti, who teaches and writes in the areas of public international law, international arbitration, and international courts and tribunals. She has authored over a dozen publications on these topics, including several authored and edited books. She has written in the Colombia Journal of Transnational Law, the University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law, the Georgetown Journal of International Law and in the American Journal of International Law. Professor Giorgetti is Vice-President of the American Branch of the International Law Association, Chair of the Academic Council of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration and a member of the Academic Forum on ISDS. Prior to joining the Richmond Law faculty in 2012, Professor Giorgetti practiced international arbitration in Washington, D.C., and Geneva, Switzerland, and worked extensively with the United Nations in New York and Somalia. She has served as counsel in several inter-states disputes. Professor Giorgetti clerked at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. She holds an LLM and JSD from Yale Law School, and MSc from the London School of Economics and a Laurea (JD equivalent) from Bologna University.

Mr Andres Barreto, Superintendent of Industry and Commerce of Colombia where he is responsible for administrative and jurisdictional matters relating to key investigations for Colombia’s economy, such as, inter alia, the fight against business cartels and the protection of consumers. Mr Barreto is a lawyer and a Del Rosario University graduate who specialises in enterprise and business law, international law and public law. Mr Barreto supported President Iván Duque Márquez in the referral that was submitted to the International Criminal Court against Nicolás Maduro. In the public sector, he has served as Legal Director and Legal Concepts Coordinator, Privileges and Immunities Coordinator and as a lawyer in the Legal Office at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Barreto has also been director of International Relations of Bogotá and a Representative at the Public Defender’s Office in the Capital District. In the private sector, he has been a lawyer at Moncada Abogados law firm, a Legal Advisor at RTI Televisión, a lawyer at the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, and the manager and head of legal affairs of a number of companies. Mr Barreto has practiced as a lawyer for over ten years, and has taught at various universities.

Dr Maria Fogdestam-Agius, a lawyer at Volterra Fietta. Dr Fogdestam-Agius advises governments and private parties on a wide range of public international law issues, including international human rights law and and international humanitarian law. Dr Fogdestam-Agius also represents clients in international treaty arbitration and State-to-State litigation and has appeared as an advocate before the International Court of Justice. Dr Fogdestam-Agius holds a doctorate degree in public international law from Uppsala University.

Mr Robert Volterra, Partner at Volterra Fietta and visiting professor of law at University College London. Mr Volterra advises and represents governments, international organisations and private clients on a wide range of public international law issues, including the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law. Mr Volterra regularly acts as co‑agent, counsel and advocate before the International Court of Justice and ad hoc international arbitration tribunals, including under the PCA, ICSID, ICC, SCC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, WTO and UNCLOS rules. Mr Volterra is on the UK Attorney General’s A-list for public international law practitioners.

For any queries regarding the content of the seminar, please email