A Non-International Armed Conflict against Boko Haram in Cameroon’s Far North

Cameroon is engaged in a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) against Boko Haram in the Far North region.

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis of this conflict, including information about parties, classification and applicable international law.

A Dramatic Increase of Boko Haram’s Presence in Cameroon

Boko Haram has been present in Cameroon since 2009. Following armed confrontations between fighters and Nigerian security forces in Maiduguri, a number of fighters crossed the border and sought refuge in Cameroon’s Far North region. Over the following years, Boko Haram’s presence in Cameroon evolved dramatically. While at first, the armed group was rather passive, it started recruiting Cameroonians as fighters between 2011 and 2013 and used the Far North region as a safe haven.

The first armed confrontation registered between the armed group and state armed forces took place in March 2014. Between 2014 and 2016, Boko Haram started carrying out attacks against the armed forces and the civilian population, focusing in particular on abductions and kidnapping of foreigners and suicide bombing.

While the intensity of violence has diminished but it has not ceased in 2016 and 2017, fighting increased again in 2018 and has continued since then.

‘Both the intensity of the armed violence opposing the Cameroon armed forces and Boko Haram, as well as the level of organization of Boko Haram in Cameroon, allow us to conclude to the existence of a NIAC’ underlines Dr Chiara Redaelli, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window on the non-international armed conflicts in Cameroon

Vigilante Groups in Northern Cameroon

In a worrying development, vigilante groups have emerged to fight against Boko Haram in the Far North.

‘Our analysis – developed on our RULAC online portal – does not allow us to conclude that vigilante groups are a party to the conflict because they do not meet the organization requirement’ explains Dr Chiara Redaelli.

Violence in the Northwest and Southwest Regions involving Anglophone Separatist Groups

Since late 2017, Cameroon’s armed forces, including an elite combat unit Rapid Intervention Battalion (RIB), have been involved in armed confrontations against a number of Anglophone separatist groups operating in the Northwest and Southwest regions of Cameroon, in particular the Ambazonia Governing Council (AGC) and its military wing (the Ambazonia Defense Forces, ADF) and the Interim Government of Ambazonia (IG) and its military wing (the Ambazonia Self-Defence Council, ASC).

Our RULAC online portal provides a detailed analysis of both the armed confrontations between the government and separatist groups, as well as of these groups and their organization.

‘While confrontations have increased since 2017, both the level of armed violence as well as the level of organization of the separatist groups do not meet the threshold required by IHL to consider this situation as a NIAC’ says Dr Chiara Redaelli.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Tamara Aburamadan News

LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: What our Students Say

16 December 2020

Tamara Aburamadan, currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.

Read more

The 2021 Pictet Team in front of the Geneva Lake News

Introducing our 2021 Pictet Team

8 February 2021

Tamara Aburamadan, Stephanie Mutasa and Mina Radoncic – enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights – will represent the Geneva Academy at the 2021 Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition.

Read more

Touareg militants driving near Timbuktu, Mali Event

Human Rights Responsibilities of Armed Non-State Actors

5 March 2021, 13:00-14:30

Online side event at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council organized by the Geneva Academy, the Geneva Human Rights Platform, UN Special Procedures and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

Read more

Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

15 April - 6 May 2021

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.

Read more

Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

11 March - 1 April 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

Read more

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

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Started 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.

Read more

Screen Shot of Obsolete, a game made for the 7DFPS project in 7 days. Download for PC and Mac Project

Disruptive Military Technologies

Started in February 2020

Via a new lecture series on disruptive military technologies, this project aims at staying abreast of the various military technology trends; promoting legal and policy debate on new military technologies; and furthering the understanding of the convergent effects of different technological trends shaping the digital battlefield of the future.

Read more

Cover page of the Briefing Publication

Room for Manoeuvre? Promoting International Humanitarian Law and Accountability While at the United Nations Security Council: A Reflection on the Role of Elected Members

published on October 2020

Émilie Max

Read more