The Forum aims to identify, frame and host discourses on key issues in international criminal and humanitarian law, transitional justice and in law more widely. Through its activities the Forum aspires to academic excellence and creativity, drawing on contributions by legal academics and practitioners, government officials, NGO representatives, philosophers, social scientists and others. It promotes an open and communitarian approach to scholarship.

The Forum acts independently of states, international organizations, state and private universities and research institutes, donors, NGOs and other actors. The orientation and scope of its activities are global and not limited to any country or region. Although the primary language of Forum activities is English, its perspective is by no means limited to the Anglosphere.

Actors wishing to co-operate with the Forum may propose joint events for consideration. Curiosity, a will to challenge the established framing of issues, and a practical sense of community needs should guide the formulation of the agenda. Forum events are driven by the topicality and scholarly or practical potential of the issues addressed. Particular emphasis is placed on weak links in institutional practice.

The Forum is a department of the independent Centre for International Law Research and Policy (CILRAP). The Centre has established the Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher (TOAEP) to pioneer the opening up of access to academic literature in international law and relations. The Forum uses this publisher in order to give broad effect to its contributions to research as well as to the investments made by donors of Forum activities. By using the Internet in this open and free way, the Forum seeks to include interested institutions and individuals from all continents in its activities, including those from materially less resourceful countries.

The Forum has legal personality under the laws of Belgium. Its Director is Morten Bergsmo and it has distinguished and dedicated members from around the world in its team, including in its Co-ordination group, the Advisory Board and among its Fellows.