Tobias Vestner is the Director of the Research and Policy Advice Department as well as the Head of the Security and Law Programme. He oversees and manages GCSP’s analysis and advice activities as well as researches and teaches on the intersection between security policy and international law. Tobias Vestner regularly advises governments, international organizations, and private firms on global security and legal issues. He has published several books and papers (see below) and provided insights to various media outlets, including the U.S. National Public Radio, NBC News, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Le Temps, and RTS Geopolitis.
Tobias Vestner has many years of experience in international law, international relations, and policymaking. He is an Honorary Senior Research Fellow at Exeter University, a Fellow at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (NATO), and a Non-Resident Fellow at the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). A former reserve member of the Swiss Special Forces Command, he serves as reserve Legal Advisor at the Swiss Armed Forces Staff. He is member of the Steering Committee of the Processes of International Negotiations Program (PIN), member of the Board of Directors of the International Society for Military Law and the Law of War (ISMLLW) and member of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL).
Before joining the GCSP, Tobias Vestner was Research Affiliate and Global Futures Fellow at Georgetown University. Prior to that, he was Policy Advisor at the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, where he managed political processes with regard to the export of conventional weapons, and participated in the UN negotiations of the Arms Trade Treaty. Previously, while at the Law of Armed Conflict Section at the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports, he contributed to bilateral negotiations on military cooperation, and trained military officers in international humanitarian law.
Tobias Vestner holds a Master of Science in Foreign Service from Georgetown University, a Master of Laws in International and European Law from the University of Geneva, and a Bachelor degree in Swiss law from the University of Lausanne. Tobias Vestner has Swiss and German nationality, and is fluent in English, French, and German.
- 'Ethical Dilemmas of the Global Defense Industry’, Oxford University Press, April 2023 (co-edited with Daniel Schoeni)
- 'International Law and Policy on the Protection of Civilians’, Cambridge University Press, August 2022 (co-authored with Stuart Casey-Maslen)
- ‘A Guide to International Disarmament Law’, Routledge, June 2019 (co-authored with Stuart Casey-Maslen), reviewed here, here, and here.
- ‘Artificial Intelligence and the (In-)Determinacy of Targeting Law’, in Irene Couzigou and Edouard Fromageau (eds), ‘Technological Change and International Law: Testing the Adaptability of International law’, Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming
- ‘Advancing Norms on Civilian Protection by Military Artificial Intelligence’, in Jan Maarten Schraagen (ed), ‘Responsible Use of AI in Military Systems’, CRC Press, forthcoming
- ‘From Strategy to Orders: Preparing and Conducting Military Operations with Artificial Intelligence’, in Robin Geiß and Henning Lahmann (eds), ‘Research Handbook on Warfare and Artificial Intelligence’, Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming
- ‘The Divide between War and Peace’, in Mitt Regan and Aurel Sari (eds), ‘Hybrid Threats and Grey Zone Conflict: The Challenge to Liberal Democracies’, Oxford University Press, forthcoming
- ‘The Defense Industry’s Contribution to National Security’, in Daniel Schoeni and Tobias Vestner (eds), ‘Ethical Dilemmas of the Global Defense Industry’, Oxford University Press, April 2023
- ‘Engaging Both Horns of the Ethical Dilemma (Introduction)’, in Daniel Schoeni and Tobias Vestner (eds), ‘Ethical Dilemmas of the Global Defense Industry’, Oxford University Press, April 2023 (co-authored with Daniel Schoeni)
- ‘The Russia-Ukraine War’s Implications for Global Security: A First Multi-issue Analysis’, GCSP Tailored Study, August 2022 (co-edited with Thomas Greminger)
- ‘Revisiting the Law on UN Peace Operations Support to Partner Forces’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, August 2022 (co-authored with Ralph Mamiya)
- ‘Treaty Law to Signal to Outsiders: The Case of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’, Washington International Law Journal, June 2022
- ‘Legal Reviews of War Algorithms’, International Law Studies, February 2021 (co-authored with Altea Rossi)
- ‘Trends in Global Disarmament Treaties’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, December 2020 (co-authored with Stuart Casey-Maslen)
- ‘The New Geopolitics of the Arms Trade Treaty’, Arms Control Today, December 2020
- ‘Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space: Multilateral Negotiations’ Effects on International Law’, Moscow Journal of International Law, November 2020
- ‘Targeting Private Military and Security Companies’, Military Law and the Law of War Review, March 2020
- ‘Addressing the Use of Human Shields’, Strategic Security Analysis, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, December 2019
- ‘Book Review of the Leuven Manual on the International Law Applicable to Peace Operations’, International Review of the Red Cross, September 2019 (co-authored)
- ‘Synergies between the Arms Trade Treaty and the Wassenaar Arrangement’, Strategic Security Analysis, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, May 2019
- ’Prohibitions and Export Assessment: Tracking Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty’, Geneva Paper 19/23, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, March 2019
- ‘Weapons Systems Supply and Operational or Logistical Support under the PSSA’, Geneva Centre for Security Policy, March 2019 (co-authored)
Select Op-eds & Blogs
- ‘Globalizing Responsible AI in the Military Domain by the REAIM Summit’, Just Security, March 2023 (co-authored Juliette François-Blouin)
- ‘Responsible AI Symposium - The Nexus between Responsible Military AI and International Law’, Articles of War, November 2022
- ‘Responsible AI Symposium - Introduction’, Articles of War, November 2022 (co-authored with Sean Watts)
- ‘The Future of Peace and War: Warfare at the Technological Edge’, GESDA Science Breakthrough Radar, October 2022 (co-authored with Thomas Greminger, Nayef Al-Rodhan, and Jean-Marc Rickli)
- ’Can the TPNW Serve Ukraine?’, Opinio Juris, April 2022 (co-authored with Juliette François-Blouin)
- ‘Die Schweiz hat durchaus das Zeug zur Grossmacht in der Uno’, NZZ am Sonntag, February 2022
- ‘Wenn der Terminator plötzlich zur Realität der modernen Kriegsführung wird’, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, August 2021
- ‘Quo Vadis, Abrüstung?’, Schweizerische Akademie der Geistes- und Sozialwissenschaften, October 2020
- DisarmApp, ACW - Artifex Creative Webnet, January 2020 (co-created)
Talks at the GCSP
- Human Shields: A History of People in the Line of Fire
- International Disarmament Treaties: Trends and Lessons Learned
- War Algorithms: Who Will Decide in Future Conflicts?
- Bye-Bye, International Order?
- Do the Geneva Conventions Matter?
- Dear Geneva: Let's Talk Hybrid Warfare
- Responsibility to Protect Revisited
- Arms Transfer to Conflict-prone Regions
- Russia and Europe: International Law as Bone of Contention or Common Denominator?
- Does Law Contribute to Peace Operations' Success?
- The Trump Administration and International Law
- Special Panel on Libya
- Expert Seminar on Enforced Disappearances
- Writing on the Wall: Redefining Security and Law
- The Worth of the Arms Trade Treaty? Let’s debate!