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 80 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-State actors.

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.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Homepage of the RULAC online portal News

Online Survey of our RULAC Online Portal

5 October 2021

The survey aims at improving this unique tool by collecting users’ feedbacks on its content, their use of the information provided on RULAC, and the sections consulted.

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Road sign in Palma, Cabo Delgado, Moçambique News

Mozambique: Our RULAC Classifies Two New Non-International Armed Conflicts

30 September 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal classified the armed violence opposing Mozambique to RENAMO splinter groups and the al-Shabab as non-international armed conflicts.

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Taliban insurgents turn themselves in to Afghan National Security Forces at a forward operating base in Puza-i-Eshan. Their defections come in the midst of Operation Taohid II, and Afghan-led operation designed to defeat the insurgency News

Revised Classification of the Armed Conflicts in Afghanistan following US Withdrawal and Taliban’s Overall Control of the Country

20 September 2021

Following the withdrawal of US troops and the fact that the Taliban gained effective control over most of the country, including Kabul, we revised the classification of the armed conflicts that are taking place in the country.

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RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

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

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Taliban insurgents turn themselves in to Afghan National Security Forces at a forward operating base in Puza-i-Eshan. Their defections come in the midst of Operation Taohid II, and Afghan-led operation designed to defeat the insurgency News

Revised Classification of the Armed Conflicts in Afghanistan following US Withdrawal and Taliban’s Overall Control of the Country

20 September 2021

Following the withdrawal of US troops and the fact that the Taliban gained effective control over most of the country, including Kabul, we revised the classification of the armed conflicts that are taking place in the country.

Read more

Syria - Kurdish province - Road to Raqqa. A road sign from the north indicating an important crossroads to come. Raqqa is located in the center of Syria. News

A Field Mission to Syria as Part of a Major Research on Armed Non-State Actors

13 September 2021

Our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on IHL Dr Annyssa Bellal travelled this summer to North-East Syria with colleagues from Geneva Call – Ezequiel Heffes and Pascal Bongard – as part of the research project she leads that examines the practice and interpretation of ANSAs on core IHL norms.

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 Taliban fighters on a truck in Kabul, August 17 2021 Event

Afghanistan

28 October 2021, 15:00-16:00

This online IHL talk aims at shining light on some of the many legal, political and protection-related challenges stemming from the situation in Afghanistan.

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Portrait of Dr Helen Durham Event

Opening Lecture – Respect for International Humanitarian Law in the 21st Century: Utopian Dream or Pragmatic Reality?

18 October 2021, 18:00-19:30

Dr Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC, will address the legal, operational and political imperative of the international community continuing to work towards the application and implementation of IHL.

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Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

17 March - 8 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.

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Séléka rebels patrol in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Project

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Completed in June 2018

This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.

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On the screen, on the screen is Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), briefing the Security Council on the 70th Anniversary of Geneva Conventions. Project

International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Security Council

Started in January 2020

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Cover of the publication Publication

The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

published on October 2021

Émilie Max

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Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

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