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

Donbass, destruction before a building News

Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

26 June 2022

Discover our resources and what our experts say about the situation in Ukraine, with regular updates to include new events, articles and comments!

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Norway flag News

Guidance to the Norwegian Government Pension Fund Global on Current Armed Conflicts and IHL

5 May 2022

At the request of the Fund's Council on Ethics, the Geneva Academy provided background information – in the form of a report – on current armed conflicts and international humanitarian law.

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A Private Afghan Security Company technical armed with a DShK heavy machine gun sits along the side of a road. U.S.Forces stopped this security company's convoy due to reports from locals claiming that the security company had been shooting sporadic gunfi News

The Involvement of Mercenaries and Private Military Security Companies in Armed Conflicts: What does IHL Say?

9 November 2021

Several armed conflicts classified in our RULAC online portal see the participation of mercenaries or private military security companies alongside states’ armed forces. Dr Chiara Redaelli, in charge of RULAC and an expert in IHL, answers our questions regarding what IHL says about this phenomenon.

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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.

Past Events

2021 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

19 November 2021, 14:00-17:30

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Mona Koehler-Schindler News

Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict: What Participants Say

16 May 2022

Mona Koehler-Schindler works at the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) and follows the programme online.

Read more

Donbass, destruction before a building News

Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

26 June 2022

Discover our resources and what our experts say about the situation in Ukraine, with regular updates to include new events, articles and comments!

Read more

The UN Security Council Short Course

Introduction to Public International Law and Subjects of the International Legal Order

Fall 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the role of public international law in international relations and on international legal persons.

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An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

Spring 2023

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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Central African Republic, Ouham province, village of Ouogo. International Humanitarian Law dissemination session to members of the Peoples' Army for the Restoration of Democracy. Project

From Words to Deeds: A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms

Started in January 2017

This project aims at compiling and analysing the practice and interpretation of selected international humanitarian law and human rights norms by armed non-state actors (ANSAs). It has a pragmatic double objective: first, to offer a comparative analysis of IHL and human rights norms from the perspective of ANSAs, and second, to inform strategies of humanitarian engagement with ANSAs, in particular the content of a possible ‘Model Code of Conduct’.

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Computer screen with warning: civilian infrastucture: do not attack Project

Digitalization of Conflict Joint Initiative: Humanitarian Impact and Legal Protection

Started in September 2020

This project will explore humanitarian consequences and protection needs caused by the digitalization of armed conflicts and the extent to which these needs are addressed by international law, especially international humanitarian law.

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Cover of the Publication Publication

The Future Digital Battlefield and Challenges for Humanitarian Protection: A Primer

published on April 2022

Henning Lahmann

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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

Emilie Max

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