Nico Schrijver is the current President of the Institute. He has been elected at the close of the Hyderbad Session (2017) and shall preside over The Hague Session (2019).
The President is elected from among the Members at the close of each session for the following session (Art. 9 Statutes). Normally, the term of office of the President is thus not more than two years (Art. 2 Statutes; Art. 10 Rules). The President presides over one session, with the exception of the following eight Presidents: Henri Harburger (1914-1916), the Marquis d’Alhucemas (1932-1934, 1934-1936), Nicolas Politis (1937-1942), Jean Spiropoulos (1965-1967), Edouard Hambro (1975-1977), Constantin Eustathiads (1977-1979), Erik Castrén (1983-1985), René-Jean Dupuy (1995-1997).
Save some exceptions, the place for the following session decided upon by the Institute is in the country of which the President is a national.
The President is member of the Bureau (Art. 9 Statutes) and is a standing member of the Programme Committee (Art. 1bis Rules) and member of the Board of the Foundation (Art. 4(1) Statutes of the Foundation).
Furthermore, the President has an important role during the session, which includes the following activities:
- Administrative meetings
The first meeting of the session, which is an administrative meeting, is opened by the President without any discourse. In this meeting, the President shall hold the election of two Vice-Presidents (Art. 13 Rules), and, in case their term of office expired, the election of the Secretary-General, secretaries or deputy secretaries, and/or the Treasurer (Art. 14 Rules).
He will then call for an exchange of views on the qualifications of the candidates proposed for election as Associate. After the votes cast by the Members and Associates present and the Members absent have been counted, he shall declare elected those candidates who have obtained both an absolute majority of the votes of the Members and Associates present and of the combined total of the votes of the Members and Associates present and absent Members who have duly taken part in the election (Art. 16 Rules).
- Plenary meetings
The President shall reserve the time necessary for the work of the commissions and fix the order in which matters will be dealt with, after consulting the Bureau and the Rapporteurs (Art. 25 Rules). Furthermore, in presiding the plenary meeting, the President has certain rights, such as giving the right to speak (Art. 28 Rules), the right to authorize members to read a speech (Art. 30 Rules), to recall a speaker to the point (Art. 31 Rules), and to receive amendments and proposals in writing (Art. 32 Rules). He furthermore declares the closure of discussion, and states the order of questions to be put to vote (Art. 35 Rules). The President shall cast his vote last (Art. 42 Rules).
The Institute also provides for the title of honorary President. This title has been granted to Gustave Rolin-Jaequemyns (1892), Gustave Moynier (1894), John Westlake (1911), Albéric Rolin (1923) and Charles De Visscher (1954)