Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

A Unique Online Portal

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.

RULAC provides information about:

  • The definition and categories of armed conflict under IHL
  • The legal framework governing armed conflicts
  • Whether a situation of armed violence is an armed conflict pursuant to IHL criteria
  • Parties to these armed conflicts
  • Applicable IHL

Scope

RULAC is currently monitoring more than 39 armed conflicts involving at least 53 states.

An Independent and Impartial Assessment

While there are many different definitions of armed conflict used for different purposes, the question of whether or not a situation of armed violence amounts to an armed conflict under IHL can have far-reaching consequences in the international legal system. For instance, states and international organizations involved in armed conflicts will have rights and duties that do not exist outside that context. Similarly, war crimes can only be committed in connection with an armed conflict, the law of neutrality may be triggered and arms control treaty regimes may be affected.

The classification of situations of armed violence is fraught with difficulties. Many states deny that they are involved in armed conflicts, arguing instead that they are engaged in counter-terrorism operations. Others apply IHL to situations that do not amount to an armed conflict. Moreover, contemporary armed conflicts are increasingly complex due to the multitude of state and non-state parties involved.

RULAC provides an independent and impartial assessment based on open source information of whether or not a concrete situation of armed violence amounts to an armed conflict. It thus strives to promote a more coherent approach classifying conflicts, and, ultimately, to foster implementation of the applicable legal framework, a key element for accountability and the protection of victims.

RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

Chiara Redaelli's areas of expertise include international humanitarian law, jus ad bellum, and international human rights law.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

View over Bunia, Ituri, DRC News

DRC: A New Conflict in Ituri involving the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO)

13 April 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties and applicable international law.

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Women in bright headscarves walk along Mogadishu street News

RULAC Classifies the Armed Violence between al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia as a Non-International Armed Conflict

23 March 2021

Our RULAC online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties and applicable international law.

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Aerial view of the mountains in the Tigray region, Ethiopia News

A Non-International Armed Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

21 January 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis of this conflict, including information about parties, classification and applicable international law.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Businessman using his lapto News

Experts Discuss the Humanitarian and Societal Impact of Military Cyber Operations

1 March 2021

At an online workshop – one of the first steps of a research project on the humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts – cyber experts discussed the humanitarian and societal impact of military cyber operations.

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Portrait of Joshua Niyo News

Our Teaching Assistant Joshua Niyo Moves to UCLA School of Law to Finalize his Doctoral Research

24 February 2021

Joshua Niyo received a one-year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) Doc.Mobility grant to spend a year at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law as Visiting Researcher.

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Somalia, explosion of a bomb in the Mogadishu's market place. Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

Winter 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, provides an in-depth study of an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

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Côte d'Ivoire,  Abidjan, military instruction center in Akandjé. An ICRC dissemination session on international humanitarian law for the 1st bataillon of commando paratroopers. Short Course

The Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

Winter 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.

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A wheelchair completely destroyed after the bombing of a civilian area Project

Disability and Armed Conflict

Started in May 2016

This project aims to ensure better protection of and assistance for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict or its aftermath by identifying legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict, and the policies and practices required to put these obligations into effect.

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A session of the UN Human Rights Committtee at Palais Wilson Project

Implementing International Humanitarian Law Through Human Rights Mechanisms

Started in April 2019

Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.

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cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

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Cover of the publication Publication

Case Study: The National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad, MNLA), Mali

published on March 2021

Annyssa Bellal, Ezequiel Heffes and Pascal Bongard

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