Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

A Unique Online Portal

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.

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

Street Art in Bogota News

Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict: Field Trip to Colombia

March 2017

Our researcher Alice Priddy visited Colombia last week as part of our project ‘Improving the Protection of Persons with Disabilities during Armed Conflict’.

Read more

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

Libya,  Misrata.Tripoli street after heavy fighting has taken place. IHL Talk

Special Panel on Libya

June 2017, 18:00-19:30

This IHL Talk, organized with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), will discuss the legal and political challenges faced by the country, including the protection of migrants and the role that different actors play in terrorism networks.

Read more

Syria, Aleppo, Al-Kallaseh district. The remains of an ambulance in the debris. Event

Current Issues in Armed Conflicts

29- June 2017

This one and a half-day conference, organized by the Geneva Academy and the Human Rights Centre of the University of Essex, will address contemporary issues in armed conflicts.

Read more

Rafah, 2009. The ICRC provides the farmers located in the buffer zones with wheat seeds Training

12th Advanced Seminar in International Humanitarian Law for University Lecturers and Researchers

25- September 2017

Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Geneva Academy, the 12th edition of this advanced seminar aims to enhance the capacity of lecturers and researchers to teach and research international humanitarian law (IHL) contemporary issues, addressing both substantive and pedagogical aspects.

Read more

UN Peacekeepers on Patrol in Abyei, Sudan. Zambian peacekeepers from the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) patrol streets lined with looted items awaiting collection in Abyei, the main town of the disputed Abyei area on the border of Sudan and newly Project

The Intersection between Transitional Justice, International Security and Responsibility to Protect

Started in February 2017

This project aims at mapping various existing accountability mechanisms, in the context of military interventions, through the lens of the requirements of a transitional justice process in order to identify possibilities and gaps.

Read more

Libya, Misrata, Tripoli Street. After a battle between members of the armed opposition and government forces. Project

The War Report

Started in December 2013

As an annual publication, The War Report provides an overview of contemporary trends in current armed conflicts, including key international humanitarian law and policy issues that have arisen and require attention.

Read more