Non-state actors have obligations under customary international law to respect and protect civilians and those hors de combat. Too often, however, these obligations are violated in situations of armed conflict and armed violence. The Academy is continuing to look at both the normative framework and ways to improve compliance with it.
The Ownership of Norms Project
In 2009–2011, at the request of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights conducted a study on how to enhance compliance with international norms by armed non-state actors (ANSAs), taking into account the views both of the actors themselves and the experiences of those engaged in dialogue with them. An Advisory Board, composed of selected experts invited ad personam from the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Geneva Call, Human Rights Watch, and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), was responsible for advising on the content and process of the project.
The report of the project, Rules of Engagement: Protecting Civilians through Dialogue with Armed Non-State Actors, was published in October 2011 in English, French, and Spanish. The project’s main conclusions and findings were presented in Geneva in November 2011 during the 31st Conference International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and then in New York in February 2012 to representatives from states and international agencies concerned with the protection of civilians.
ANSA Reaction to Selected International Norms Project
In January 2012, the Human Security and Migration Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs commissioned the Geneva Academy to conduct research into the reaction by selected armed non-state actors to certain humanitarian norms, especially those protecting civilians. This is needed because engagement with ANSAs on compliance with international norms should be conducted with knowledge of the likely objections to applicable or proposed norms. The ultimate aim of the project is to provide a field manual for “humanitarian engagers”.
The Project is being conducted by Dr. Stuart Casey‐Maslen, Marina Mattirolo, and Alice Priddy under the supervision of Professor Andrew Clapham. An Advisory Board, composed of selected experts invited ad personam from the Berghof Foundation, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, Conciliation Resources, Geneva Call, Human Rights Watch, the ICRC, and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, will be responsible for advising on the content and process of the project.
The Academy published a report which was launched on 29 November 2011 at the International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.
Rules of Engagement - Protecting Civilians through Dialogue with Armed Non-State Actors.(English version)
Règles d'Engagement - La protection des civils à travers un dialogue avec les acteurs armés non étatiques. (French version)
Reglas del Juego - Cómo proteger a los civiles mediante el diálogo con los actores armados no estatales. (Spanish version)
Researchers and contact persons
Marina Mattirolo, Researcher
Dr. Stuart Maslen, Research Fellow and main contact person for this project