‘From Words to Deeds’: Groundbreaking Studies on FARC-EP and MNLA and Dedicated New Website

9 MARCH 2021

The Geneva Academy and Geneva Call released two substantive studies on the practice and interpretation of core humanitarian norms by the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia – Ejército del Pueblo (FARC-EP) and the Mouvement National de Libération de l’Azawad (MNLA).

The first of a longer series aimed at producing a global comparative analysis, they provide a unique insight on how two armed non-State actors (ANSAs) perceive international humanitarian law (IHL) and some selected rules contained therein.

‘According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, between 60 to 80 million people live under the direct State-like governance of armed groups. This shows the importance of our research and its potential impact to protect civilians during armed conflicts’ underlines Dr Annyssa Bellal, Principal Investigator on the project and Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.

Analysing the Perspectives and Practice of ANSAs towards IHL

The two case studies are based on interviews with FARC-EP and MNLA leadership and a thorough analysis of their internal regulations and policies as well as external sources. They demonstrate the different perspectives these two movements had towards IHL and the various sources of influence on their behaviour.

‘Although the FARC-EP considered IHL to be an ‘elitist’ legal regime, developed by states and only addressing their own interest, the group modified its attitudes throughout its almost 50 years of existence’, claims Ezequiel Heffes, Legal Adviser at Geneva Call and author of the study. ‘This was clearly observed during peace negotiations, in which it committed to some international rules through various sources’.

‘In the case of the MNLA, a number of factors contributed to their adherence to IHL, including local norms, the military experience of the general command and the activism of human rights officers inside the movement. Public reports of abuses committed by the MNLA in the early months of the conflict also prompted the leadership to take corrective actions’ says Pascal Bongard, author of the study and Head of Policy and Legal Unit at Geneva Call.

‘We will come up with additional case studies on selected ANSAs, including an analysis of the perspectives and practice of the Islamic State group and Al Qaeda, the Taliban and Kurdish ANSAs’ explains Dr Bellal.

A Larger Research on ANSAs

These case studies are part of a larger research, the first of its kind, which examines the practice and interpretation of ANSAs on core IHL norms.

The project – funded by UK Research and Innovation and led by the Geneva Academy and Geneva Call, in collaboration with the American University in Cairo and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) – will develop operational guidance for humanitarian actors with the aim to enhance ANSAs engagement towards IHL compliance.

The research team – headed by Dr Annyssa Bellal and composed of Co-Investigators Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes and Professor Nesrine Badawi – will collect ANSAs’ practice and views through available unilateral engagements, codes of conduct, public declarations, special agreements and peace treaties, and will also conduct field research and interviews with selected ANSAs – notably in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Myanmar, Lebanon and Syria.

‘The research will increase our understanding of ANSAs’ perceptions and behaviour in a context where ANSAs – key players in today’s armed conflicts – directly impact civilian populations. While they are bound by IHL, what ANSAs say about it and how they act upon its rules has so far remained insufficiently explored’ says Dr Annyssa Bellal.

A Dedicated New Website

A dedicated new website provides key information and updates about the research, the project’s team, project’s events, as well as core project’s outputs – including the case studies.

‘This new website will allow us to disseminate and share the outputs of our research with all the relevant stakeholders: humanitarian agencies and other actors operating in conflict settings, academics, and policy-makers’ explains Dr Bellal.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Homepage of the RULAC online portal News

Online Survey of our RULAC Online Portal

5 October 2021

The survey aims at improving this unique tool by collecting users’ feedbacks on its content, their use of the information provided on RULAC, and the sections consulted.

Read more

Sana’a, Hay Soufan district. Damages caused by the fighting. News

New Book by Professor Andrew Clapham Examines How the Concept of War Affects the Application of the Law

29 June 2021

In his new book War, our Former Director and Faculty Member Professor Andrew Clapham discusses the relevance of the concept of war today and examines how our notions about war continue to influence how we conceive rights and obligations in national and international law.

Read more

 Taliban fighters on a truck in Kabul, August 17 2021 Event

Afghanistan

28 October 2021, 15:00-16:00

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.

Read more

Destroyed buildings in Harasta, Syria Event

2021 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

19 November 2021, 14:00-17:30

The 2021 edition will address two contemporary challenges and issues related to armed conflict: the classification of non-international armed conflicts in which a myriad of armed non-state actors are involved; and cyber conflicts.

Read more

Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

17 March - 8 April 2022

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

The International Court of Justice in session Short Course

Sources of Public International Law

27 October - 8 December 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, looks at the sources from which public international law rules stem and at the entities that are empowered with the capacity of law-making in the international legal order. It aims at enabling participants to develop a global perception of the international normative system.

Read more

Surveillance Camera Project

COUNTER-TERROR PROJECT: A LEGAL EMPIRICAL APPROACH

Started in June 2019

The ‘Counter-Terror Pro LegEm’ project combines legal analysis with social science research to (1) examine the effectiveness of counterterrorism measures and their effects on human rights and (2) analyse the structure of terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State and see whether they qualify as ‘organized armed groups’ for the purpose of international humanitarian law.

Read more

Screenshot of the RULAC webpage Project

Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

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.

Read more

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

Émilie Max

Read more