25 February 2019
Part of our multi-year project that focuses on human rights responsibilities and armed non-state actors (ANSAs), our new publication State Responsibility for Human Rights Violations Committed in the State Territory by Armed Non-State Actors explores the particular aspects of state responsibility for human rights violations committed by ANSAs in its territory.
As a general fact, a state is only responsible for its own acts. But there are exceptional circumstances in which the conduct of an ANSA will invoke a state's responsibility.
The author, Tatyana Eatwell, explores various scenarios, including situations where an ANSA operates independently of any state and controls territory. She acknowledges that these situations of de facto control over a territory by an ANSA give rise to a protection gap where victims of human rights violations committed by the ANSA are left without recourse to remedy.
This question of jurisdiction does not arise for the application of international humanitarian law (IHL): in situations of armed conflict to which the ANSA is a party, the ANSA will be responsible for violations of IHL it has committed pursuant to Article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and customary IHL.
The author, therefore, concludes that in situations of armed conflict, the state’s loss of control over part of its territory will give rise to a protection gap with respect to the substantive rights and freedoms guaranteed under international human rights law (IHRL), and not protected under IHL.
The author explains that the United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms have sought to close this protection gap by invoking the responsibility of the ANSA itself. However, she acknowledges that there is a lack of agreement as to whether ANSAs are bound by IHRL, and if so, what the nature of their obligations might be.
‘Tatyana Eatwell recommends the development of a shared understanding of the human rights obligations of ANSAs, a path that is currently undertaken by various Special Rapporteurs’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Manager of Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy.
‘We will continue, via our research project, to work on this issue and collaborate with UN Special Rapporteurs who are interested in exploring the role and responsibilities of ANSAs in relation to their specific mandates’ he adds.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
Our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law Dr Annyssa Bellal will discuss IHL monitoring and compliance at a High-Level Side Event during the UN General Assembly Ministerial Week.
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
The Geneva Academy is deeply saddened by the sudden passing of Professor Christof Heyns. He was an incredible force of inspiration for all of us at the Geneva Academy – students, researchers and professors.
This online event – co-organized with UPR Info, OHCHR, and GANHRI – will discuss a new study commissioned by OHCHR on emerging good practices in UPR.
VOA, via Wikimedia Commons
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.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, examines the conduct of hostilities in situations of international armed conflict, also known as the Law of The Hague.
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.
This project will facilitate a multistakeholder consultative process to identify knowledge gaps, generate new evidence and co-design evidence-based tools to support regulatory and policy responses to human rights challenges linked to digital technologies.
NYU Stern BH
This project aims at supporting the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights' project for the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.