23 July 2020
Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal monitors the three armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine, namely the non-international armed conflict (NIAC) between Ukraine and two separatist groups in eastern Ukraine; the international armed conflict (IAC) between Ukraine and the Russian Federation; and the military occupation of Crimea by the Russian Federation.
For each conflict, RULAC provides information about its classification, parties and applicable international law. Each conflict has been updated to include recent developments, which do not affect our current classification.
Since the beginning of this conflict six years ago, the organization of the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics evolved. Updates notably provide an analysis of this evolution and discuss the question of Russia’s overall control over these armed groups, which, if confirmed, would turn this NIAC into an IAC.
‘While evidence suggests that Russia is training and equipping these armed groups and providing them with weapons, information at our disposal does not allow us to conclude with a degree of certainty that Russia exercises overall control over them by coordinating or helping in the general planning of their military operations’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.
A case filed by Ukraine against Russia before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over Moscow's alleged support of pro-Russian separatists could lead to a different assessment of this question. The ICJ affirmed, back in November 2019, that it has jurisdiction on this case.
Updates on this armed conflict analyse the Kerch Strait incident, where three Ukrainian Navy vessels were fired upon and then captured by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) when they attempted to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov heading towards the port of Mariupol. 24 Ukrainians were also captured and sent to prison to Moscow.
The three-vessel are still in the hands of Russia, while the 24 Ukrainian sailors were released in Russia-Ukraine prisoner exchange back in September 2019.
Since March 2014, Russia has been occupying part of Ukrainian territory, the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and the city of Sevastopol.
‘The alleged consent for a Russian intervention, based on a request by ousted President Yanukovych, does not affect the classification of the situation as a military occupation. Similarly, the Crimean referendum of 16 March 2014 to join Russia does not alter the status of Crimea as occupied territory’ underlines Professor Marco Sassòli.
This entry has been updated with a section on views of parties to the conflict and other actors.
Sandra Pointet/Geneva Academy
The 78 students of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law are starting their classes this week, both in Geneva and online.
Diakonia Lebanon IHL Resource Desk
Organized by the ICRC, Diakonia Lebanon Resource Desk for IHL and the Geneva Academy, it aims at empowering the next generation of international lawyers from the region with advanced knowledge of international law applicable in armed conflict
This online IHL Talk aims at shining light on the various ways of promoting respect for and implementation of international humanitarian law.
This panel discussion marks the Launch of our New Research Initiative, carried out jointly by our Swiss IHL Chair Robin Geiß and the ICRC.
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.
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.
Medical Aid for Palestinians / Ezz Al Zanoon
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.
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.