19 March 2020
The Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a splinter of Boko Haram, has been operating in northeastern Nigeria and along Lake Chad, since it left Boko Haram back in 2016, is engaged in protracted armed violence against the government.
In 2019, armed confrontations between ISWAP and the Nigerian armed forces took place consistently over the year. Since the beginning of 2020, ISWAP has conducted a number of deadly attacks against the Nigerian army, while clashes between ISWAP and the governmental forces resulted in the death of several Nigerian soldiers and ISWAP fighters.
Research conducted led to the conclusion that the level of armed violence and of organization of ISWAP allows classifying this situation as a non-international armed conflict (NIAC).
Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) website, therefore, provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties, its classification and applicable international law.
This new NIAC complements the Nigeria entry, which already entails information about the NIAC between the Nigerian armed forces and Boko Haram, which has also been updated to reflect recent development.
‘We also analysed the clashes between Boko Haram and ISWAP and concluded that, while occasional fighting still takes place between these two armed groups, the intensity was never high enough to conclude that there is a NIAC between ISWAP and Boko Haram. However, that fighting clearly demonstrates that Boko Haram and ISWAP are distinct armed groups involved in distinct armed conflicts against the government.’ explains Dr Chiara Redaelli, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.
Ansaru is an armed group also known as the Vanguards for the Protection of Muslims in Black Africa and al-Qaeda in the Lands Beyond the Sahel. It is a Jihadist splinter group of Boko Haram and is based in the northeastern part of Nigeria. Following fighting in 2012 and 2013, armed confrontations between Ansaru and the government have substantially decreased. Furthermore, in 2016 Ansaru’s leader was arrested by Nigerian armed forces. However, since January 2020, Ansaru has started operating again and has claimed armed attacks for the first time since 2013.
‘While the intensity of violence is not enough to conclude that there is a NIAC between the government of Nigeria and Ansaru, we will continue to monitor this development and the evolution of the situation.’ stresses Dr Chiara Redaelli.
As Swiss IHL Chair, Professor Geiß will develop and promote the Geneva Academy’s expertise in the area of new military technologies via policy work, cutting-edge research, expert meetings, the development of partnerships, teaching and the launch of a new lecture series on this issue.
The non-international armed conflict in Turkey – which opposes the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – has been updated with a section on the origins of the conflict, information about its evolution in 2019-2020, and an analysis as to whether the TAK, a splinter group of the PKK, is also a party to this NIAC.
The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts project (RULAC) is a unique online portal that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). It is primarily a legal reference source for a broad audience, including non-specialists, interested in issues surrounding the classification of armed conflicts under IHL.
This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.