isafmedia, via Wikimedia Commons>
Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal has been monitoring and classifying situations of armed violence that are taking place in Afghanistan, using the definition of armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL).
Until recently, we classified the following three non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) in the country:
Following the withdrawal of US troops and the fact that the Taliban gained effective control over most of the country, including Kabul, we revised this classification.
U.S. Marine Corps
VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Voice of America News, via Wikimedia Commons>
On 7 September 2021, the Taliban announced the formation of an interim government led by Mohammad Hasan Akhund.
‘Under IHL, the majoritarian view posits that the government needs to exercise effective control in order to represent the state, a position confirmed by the International Committee of the Red Cross in its Commentary to the Geneva Conventions. As such, the recognition of the Afghan government by other states and questions regarding its legitimacy are not relevant for IHL purposes, as this body of law adopts a pragmatic approach and focuses on the actual situation on the ground’ explains Dr Chiara Redaelli, Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy.
‘In light of the information at our disposal, and based on IHL – which is the body of law we refer to on RULAC – we concluded that the Taliban are now the effective government. Indeed, they are exercising effective control over the overwhelming majority of the country and seem to exercise functions usually assigned to a government. The fact that there are still contested areas does not prevent to conclude that the Taliban’s control is sufficient’ she adds.
Abdulbasir Ilgor (VOA) derivative work: Berrel, via Wikimedia Commons>
As such, and given that the Taliban became the effective government of Afghanistan, the following armed conflicts are taking place in the country according to our RULAC online portal:
‘One of the main questions we had to address was whether the previous NIAC between the Taliban armed group and the former Afghan government continues as a NIAC between the National Resistance Front (loyal to the former government) and the Taliban (representing now Afghanistan), or whether this NIAC is now over’ explains Dr Redaelli.
‘This question is open to debate and IHL does not provide clear answers. Our views are that the fighting (if any) between the National Resistance Front and the Taliban government should be considered as a continuation of the previous NIAC. This being said, the question whether the National Resistance Front is sufficiently organized remains open and we do not have enough information to make this assessment. It seems therefore premature to declassify the situation of violence and we therefore concluded that, for the time being, the Taliban government is engaging in a NIAC against the National Resistance Front’ she adds.
VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
U.S. Central Command Public Affairs, via Wikimedia Commons
Our Senior Research Fellow and Strategic Adviser on IHL Dr Annyssa Bellal travelled this summer to North-East Syria with colleagues from Geneva Call – Ezequiel Heffes and Pascal Bongard – as part of the research project she leads that examines the practice and interpretation of ANSAs on core IHL norms.
VOA, Wikimedia Commons
Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal classified the armed violence opposing Mozambique to RENAMO splinter groups and the al-Shabab as non-international armed conflicts.
Dr Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC, will address the legal, operational and political imperative of the international community continuing to work towards the application and implementation of IHL.
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 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.
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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.
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.