About me


Phon van den Biesen is a specialist in the field of Governmental Tort-law, Government liability (compensation for damages and planning costs), protection of nature and environmental law, human rights, the laws of war and peace, and related areas of law. These cases involve legal assistance in civil and administrative areas of law in which International and European law, in addition to Dutch law, play a dominant role.



From late 1993 until the end of February 2007 Phon van den Biesen represented Bosnia and Herzegovina, as its Deputy-Agent and Counsel, before the International Court of Justice in The Hague in Bosnia’s Genocide case against Serbia. This case was submitted in 1993. He also represented Djibouti, again as its Deputy-Agent and Counsel, in its case against France, also before the International Court of Justice (from mid-2006 to early June 2008). Recently he represented the Republic of the Marshall Islands before the International Court of Justice, and acts as its Co-Agent and Counsel in the three cases that the RMI submitted at the International Court of Justice. The topic is nuclear disarmament; the defendant States were the United Kingdom, India and Pakistan.
Moreover, he also regularly appears before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, usually representing Civil Society Organizations.


Phon van den Biesen was in the eighties one of the protagonists of the Social Legal Aid Movement. Among other things he was a co-founder of the Vereniging Sociale Advocatuur Amsterdam (Association of Social Lawyers Amsterdam) and also of the Vereniging Sociale Advocatuur Nederland (Association of Social Lawyers The Netherlands). Since early 2004 he also stands up – through Lawyers for Lawyers – for threatened human rights lawyers across the world who are persecuted or punished because of the cases they choose to handle while discharging of their professional duties. He served for 13 years as one of the Members of the Disciplinary Board in the Court District of Amsterdam.



Phon van den Biesen is a member of the Scientific Council of the Centre for Environmental Law at the University of Amsterdam. He regularly teaches at home and abroad on human rights, humanitarian law, environmental law and on recent developments in international case law related to the Genocide Convention.
He also teaches, internationally, empowerment-courses to lawyers and is currently working on a PhD on “The Independence of Lawyers, a Human Rights Perspective”.



  • President of the Foundation Lawyers for Lawyers
  • Vice-President of IALANA (International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms)
  • Chair of the Board of Advisors of ATANA
  • Member of both the Environmental Law Association and the Association of Environmental Lawyers.



  • 2016 “International Rights and Mechanisms, Introduction for Iranian Lawyers”, The Hague, May 2016
  • 2013 “The blind spot: trade with Israel in relation to the occupied territories, contribution to “Conference on Human Rights and Business”, Amsterdam, 13 June 2013
  • 2012 “For Lawyers: Soft Law … Rather Important”, Contribution to the “Young Lawyers Conference 2012, Unlimited Opportunities” (“Young Bar Association Conference 2012, Unlimited Opportunities”), Boom Legal Publishers, November 2012
  • 2011 “Case law of the European Court on Human Rights in Environmental Cases”, contribution to “The Victim in Environmental- and Health Cases”, WLP, December 2011
  • 2011 contribution to “Building on Basic Principles, 25 Years Lawyers for Lawyers, 15 April 2011”, Foundation NJCM Boekerij, November 2011
  • 2011 “Trade and Labeling of Israeli Settlement Goods”, in: Corporate Complicity in Israel’s Occupation, London Session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, November 2010
  • 2011 “Will civil society take climate changers to court? A perspective from Dutch Law”, in: ‘Climate Change Liability’, ed. Michael Faure and Marjan Peeters, p. 227-236,
  • 2010 “Pal voor de rechtsstaat” (In defense of the Rule of Law), in: ’35 years of Social Legal Aid, p. 121-129
  • 2010 “Return to the International Court of Justice: An Effective Strategy to Support Productive Negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention”, in: Frieden durch Recht?, p. 83-86
  • 2009 “Good Faith Negotiations Leading to the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons”, Legal Memorandum, co-production of the International Association of Lawyers Against Nuclear Arms and the International Human Rights Clinic, Human Rights Program, Harvard Law School.