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 currently monitoring more than 80 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-State actors.

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. For instance, states and international organizations involved in armed conflicts will have rights and duties that do not exist outside that context. Similarly, 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.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Donbass, destruction before a building News

Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

31 October 2022

Discover our resources and what our experts say about the situation in Ukraine, with regular updates to include new events, articles and comments!

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Destuction in eastern Ukraine News

Referendums on Joining Russia in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson: What Impact on Conflicts Classification?

10 October 2022

Our Research Fellow Dr Chiara Redaelli tells us whether these referendums will affect our RULAC classification of the armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine.

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Armoured vehicle patrolls the border, Tajikistan News

RULAC: Fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Amounts to an International Armed Conflict

26 September 2022

According to our RULAC online portal, the border fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that took place in mid-September 2022 amounts to an international armed conflict (IAC).

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RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

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

Past Events

2021 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

19 November 2021, 14:00-17:30

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

A session of the PhD Forum predecessor, the Geneva Academy Wednesdays News

The PhD Forum: A Space for Exchange for Researchers and PhD Students

11 November 2022

The Geneva Academy PhD Forum is a space that gathers PhD researchers and experts – in Geneva and beyond – who work in the scientific focus area of the Geneva Academy.

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Map of the RULAC online portal News

Renewed Fighting Prompts the Reclassification of a Non-International Armed Conflict in Southern Thailand

22 August 2022

Renewed fighting – despite ongoing peace talks – prompted the reclassification of the armed violence between Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN) on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict online portal.

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Event

Towards Greater Accountability with Open-Source Information

14 December 2022, 18:30-20:00

This IHL Talk will explore the practices, opportunities and challenges stemming from the use of open-source information to document, investigate and prosecute international crimes and serious human rights violations.

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Afghanistan, Parwan detention facility. Inside a room where detainees of the prison, separated by an acrylic glass, are allowed to meet with their families a couple of times per year with the help of the ICRC employees who facilitate the programme. Short Course

Preventing and Combating Terrorism

27 April - 8 June 2023

This online short course discusses the extent to which states may limit and/or derogate from their international human rights obligations in order to prevent and counter-terrorism and thus protect persons under their jurisdiction.

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Somalia, explosion of a bomb in the Mogadishu's market place. Short Course

The Classification of Armed Conflicts

19 January - 14 February 2023

This online short course provides an in-depth study of an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.

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A wheelchair completely destroyed after the bombing of a civilian area Project

Disability and Armed Conflict

Completed in May 2016

This project aimed to ensure better protection of and assistance for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict or its aftermath by identifying legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict, and the policies and practices required to put these obligations into effect.

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Mine Project

Business, Human Rights and Conflict-Affected Regions

Completed in July 2021

This project aimed at identifying and clarifying policies and practices for states and businesses, including public and private investors, across the full ‘conflict cycle’ and the ‘protect, respect and remedy’ pillars of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

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Cover page of the study Publication

From Words to Deeds A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms: Research and Policy Conclusions

published on September 2022

Annyssa Bellal, Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes

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