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 39 armed conflicts involving at least 53 states.

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.

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 showing the NIACs in Nigeria. News

RULAC Classifies the Armed Violence between the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Islamic State in West Africa Province as a Non-International Armed Conflict

March 2020

Our RULAC website provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties, its classification and applicable international law.

Read more >

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window showing the NIACs in Mexico. News

Two New Non-International Armed Conflicts in Mexico Involving the Sinaloa Drug Cartel

March 2020

Further research conducted by the RULAC research team highlighted that the level of organization of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the intensity of the armed violence between this cartel and both the Mexican armed forces and the CJNG allow classifying these two situations as non-international armed conflicts.

Read more >

Portrait of Chiara Redealli News

Meet our Researchers: Chiara Redaelli

March 2020

Dr Chiara Redaelli is one of our Research Fellows in international humanitarian law. She currently works on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) project.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

View of the Amerli village in Iraq News

Iraq: An Ongoing Non-International Armed Conflict despite the Claimed Victory against ISIS

November 2019

Our new War Report article Iraq: Any Hope for Change? provides an overview of the non-international armed conflict in the country, including information about the classification of the conflict, its history, parties and developments in 2019.

Read more

Portrait of Annyssa Bellal News

Meet our Researchers: Annyssa Bellal

February 2020

Dr Annyssa Bellal is a Senior Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy and our Strategic Adviser on International Humanitarian Law (IHL). She currently works on a research project on armed groups and IHL.

Read more

Destroyed health facilities in Libya Event

Fighting Two Battles at the Same Time: Responding to Covid-19 in Conflict Zones

April 2020, 12:30-13:45

This online IHL Talk will discuss the challenges faced by humanitarian organizations in organizing the response to COVID-19, and states' obligation of due diligence to prevent the further spread of the virus.

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

Screenshot of the RULAC webpage Project

Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

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.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

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

published on December 2019

Annyssa Bellal, Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes

Read more