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.
- '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)
- Military Operations and Artificial Intelligence’, in Robin Geiß and Henning Lahmann (eds), ‘Research Handbook on Warfare and Artificial Intelligence’, Edward Elgar Publishing, forthcoming
- ‘Treaty Law to Signal to Outsiders: The Case of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons’, Washington International Law Journal, forthcoming
- ‘Legal Reviews of War Algorithms’, International Law Studies, February 2021 (co-authored)
- ‘Trends in Global Disarmament Treaties’, Journal of Conflict and Security Law, December 2020 (co-authored)
- ‘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
- ‘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!