Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

A Unique Online Portal

The Rule of Law in Armed Conflict 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.

RULAC provides information about:

  • The definition and categories of armed conflict under IHL
  • The legal framework governing armed conflicts
  • Whether a situation of armed violence is an armed conflict pursuant to IHL criteria
  • Parties to these armed conflicts
  • Applicable IHL

Scope

RULAC is still under development and new conflict entries will be added during 2017. The scope of RULAC is currently limited to those conflicts that have emerged since 2011 and are still ongoing. Information on conflicts that started before 2011, including their classification, can be found on the old RULAC website.

An Independent and Impartial Assessment

While there are many different definitions of armed conflict used for different purposes, the question of whether or not a situation of armed violence amounts to an armed conflict under IHL can have far-reaching consequences in the international legal system. Most importantly, states and international organizations involved in armed conflicts will have rights and duties that do not exist outside that context. In addition, war crimes can only be committed in connection with an armed conflict, the law of neutrality may be triggered and arms control treaty regimes may be affected.

The classification of situations of armed violence is fraught with difficulties. Many states deny that they are involved in armed conflicts, arguing instead that they are engaged in counter-terrorism operations. Others apply IHL to situations that do not amount to an armed conflict. Moreover, contemporary armed conflicts are increasingly complex due to the multitude of state and non-state parties involved.

RULAC provides an independent and impartial assessment based on open source information of whether or not a concrete situation of armed violence amounts to an armed conflict. It thus strives to promote a more coherent approach classifying conflicts, and, ultimately, to foster implementation of the applicable legal framework, a key element for accountability and the protection of victims.

Partners

RULAC is supported by students from the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex. In accordance with the RULAC methodology, a team of postgraduate students actively review contemporary situations of violence in order to determine whether they constitute an international armed conflict, a non-international armed conflict, a situation of occupation, or whether these situations fall short of the required legal threshold. The students are part of the LLM in International Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. More information on the University of Essex Human Rights Centre is available on the website.

RESEARCHER

Picture of Sandra Krähenmann

Sandra Krähenmann

Research Fellow

Sandra Krähenmann's research focuses on the theory and practice of international law that applies in armed conflict and other situations of violence.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Vover page of the In-Brief No.7 Human Rights Obligations of Armed Non-State Actors: An Exploration of the Practice of the UN Human Rights Council  News

How the UN Human Rights Council Addresses Armed Non-State Actors: Key Challenges and Way Forward

February 2017

Ten years after the establishment of the UN Human Rights Council, our new publication highlights the current challenges related to the Council’s approach to armed non-state actors and proposes recommendations to better address this phenomenon.

Read more

Homepage of the Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Portal News

A New Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Online Portal

February 2017

We are launching an updated version of our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) portal, an online database that identifies and classifies all situations of armed violence that amount to an armed conflict under international humanitarian law (IHL). The updated version includes all conflicts that have emerged over the last five years and are still ongoing.

Read more

Central African Republic, Ouham province. Member of the Central African Armed Forces. Training

Training on International Weapons Law

2017

The Geneva Academy offers professional training on weapons law, covering a wide range of subjects including the definition of weapons; Article 36’s weapons review; means and methods of warfare or new weapons technologies.

Read more

Syria, Old city of Aleppo. Destructed houses situated next to the frontline stand side by side alongside intact houses full of occupants just a few meters away from the frontline Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

27 April - June 2017

This course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

Read more

doption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the UN General Assembly, 2 April 2013 Project

The Arms Trade Treaty

Completed in January 2013

The Geneva Academy team followed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations and provided key information on the negotiations, notably via a daily blog.

Read more

Libya, Misrata, Tripoli Street. Combattants carefully move into a building. Project

Armed Non-State Actors and the Protection of Civilians

Completed in March 2010

This research project looked at the reactions to norms of more than 30 armed groups worldwide.

Read more