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

Essex University

The RULAC project is supported by a law clinic at 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.

This input is of invaluable help for the Geneva Academy team producing the entries for RULAC.

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.

RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

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

NEWS AND EVENTS

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window of the non-international armed conflict in Mexico. News

International Humanitarian Law Applies to the Armed Confrontations between Mexico and the Jalisco Cartel New Generation

February 2019

In Mexico, there has been armed violence between the government and a number of cartels, as well as between such cartels over the past decades. Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict online portal concludes that Mexico and the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generación are parties to a non-international armed conflict.

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Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window of the non-international armed conflicts in DRC. News

Democratic Republic of the Congo: A Mapping of Non-International Armed Conflicts in Kivu, Kasai and Ituri

February 2019

The Democratic Republic of Congo has been affected by several armed conflicts in recent decades. The regions that have been most affected are Kivu, Kasai, and Ituri, although violence is widespread and affects the whole country. Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict Online Portal (RULAC) provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of these conflicts, including information about parties.

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Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window of the non-international armed conflicts in Mali. News

Mali: Several Non-International Armed Conflicts with Various Insurgent Groups

January 2019

Since 2012, the Government of Mali has engaged in multiple and overlapping non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) against various insurgent groups. Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of these NIACs, including information about parties to these conflicts.

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