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 entries continue to be regularly added.

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.

Video

The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Online Portal

In this short video, our Senior Research Fellow Dr Sandra Krähenmann presents our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal, including the map which allows visitors to search armed conflicts and their parties via multiple filters.

RESEARCHER

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

Chiara Redaelli's areas of expertise include international humanitarian law, jus ad bellum, and international human rights law.

NEWS

An Indian soldier in Srinagar, Kashmir News

The International Armed Conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir Added to our RULAC Online Portal

30 October 2018

Visitors can discover an overview of the conflict since its inception in 1947, recent developments, the factual and methodological basis for its classification as an IAC, parties to this conflict and the applicable international law.

Read more >

Central African Republic, Bangui. Soldiers of the Democratic Republic of Congo patrol the Multinational Force of Central African States - News

The Non-International Armed Conflicts in the Central African Republic Added to our RULAC Online Portal

15 October 2018

We have now added to our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal a detailed analysis and legal classification of the non-international armed conflicts that take place in the Central African Republic since December 2012.

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Map of the Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts online portal News

RULAC: Updates on the Armed Conflicts in Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen

19 February 2018

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal features updated entries on the armed conflicts taking place in Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. These integrate recent developments like the Turkish offensive in Afrin, Israel’s largest scale aerial attacks inside Syria, and the divisions and infightings in Yemen.

Read more >

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In this Military Briefing, co-organized with Geneva Call, panelists will discuss the operational challenges and opportunities of turning guerrillas into deminers.

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This short 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.

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Short Course

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This short course 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.

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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.

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INVESTIGATING IN SITUATIONS OF ARMED CONFLICT: Law, Policy and Good Practice

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This project, initiated in 2014 by the Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, Professor Noam Lubell, intends to identify, via expert meetings and research, a set of best practices that states should apply when they investigate or examine alleged violations or misconduct in situations of armed conflict.

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