Expert Profile

Mr Tobias Vestner
Position(s) Head of Security and Law
Personal website GCSP Security and Law

Tobias Vestner leads the Security and Law Programme. He teaches, researches, and organizes dialogue on the intersection between security policy and international law.

He heads the annual ‘Symposium for Senior NATO/PfP Legal Advisors’. Tobias Vestner also leads and teaches in the executive education courses ‘Air and Missile Warfare: Navigating the Legal Dimension (Advanced AMPLE)’, ‘Legal Dimensions of Contemporary and Future Use of Force’, ‘Weapons Law and the Legal Review of Weapons’, as well as ‘Negotiations Theory and Practice’, among others. He is also responsible for the event series ‘Security and Law: A Reality Check’, a public dialogue that explores how international law matters in security affairs. Tobias Vestner regularly advises governments, international organizations, and private firms on global security and legal issues.

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 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. 



  • 'International Law and Policy on the Protection of Civilians’, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming (co-authored)
  • 'Ethical Dilemmas of the Global Defense Industry’, Oxford University Press, forthcoming (co-edited)
  • ‘A Guide to International Disarmament Law’, Routledge, June 2019 (co-authored)

Select Papers

Select Op-eds & Blogs

Digital Tool

  • DisarmApp, ACW - Artifex Creative Webnet, January 2020 (co-created)

Talks at the GCSP

For speaking engagements, please contact :

[email protected]