Armed Non-State Actors and the Protection of Civilians

Completed in December 2015

This research project looked at the reactions to norms of more than 30 armed groups worldwide. It was guided by an advisory board of individual experts from the Berghof Foundation, Conciliation Resources, Geneva Call, the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue, the Human Security and Migration Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Human Rights Watch and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

Research Team

This research project was carried out by Stuart Casey-Maslen, Marina Mattirolo and Alice Priddy.

OUTPUT

An Analysis of Armed Groups' Normative Policies Relating to the Protection of Civilians

Research led to the publication in January 2014 of Academy Policy Briefing No. 1, Reactions to Norms, Armed Groups and the Protection of Civilians. In August 2013 selected individuals belonging or linked to armed groups met in the Philippines to discuss this publication’s draft.

The Policy Briefing analyzes normative policies of armed groups relating to the protection of civilians in armed conflict and other situations of violence, not their operational practice. However, it notes some instances in which the operational practice of a group appears to systematically contradict its stated policy. It is based on declarations and statements by members or representatives of armed groups and policy positions.

Dissemination

The Geneva Academy disseminated the results of the project through regional training workshops in Amman, Bangkok and Nairobi, organized by the International Association of Professionals in Humanitarian Assistance and Protection (PHAP). Other events to disseminate the Policy Briefing have also been held in Brussels, Geneva, London and New York.

In recognition of the prominence and importance of this work, senior staff from the Geneva Academy were regularly contacted during the year to discuss the project and give advice. For example, the Geneva Academy advised the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances, Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria and Overseas Development Institute.

The success of this project helped increase awareness among armed non-state actors of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

Publications

Cover of the Policy Briefing No1: Reactions to Norms Armed Groups and the Protection of Civilians

Reactions to Norms Armed Groups and the Protection of Civilians

January 2014

Alice Priddy

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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January 2020, 18:00-19:30

Panelists will discuss the struggle of Sednaya's former detainees for justice and accountability, and explore the role of current justice and redress initiatives in the contexts of universal jurisdiction and in the documentation of violations.

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19 March - May 2020

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Short Course

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2 April - May 2020

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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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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This project intends to clarify the conditions of accountability for international crimes by providing a detailed assessment of the customary international law status of, in particular, the actus reus and mens rea elements of modes of liability: planning, instigating, conspiracy, direct and indirect perpetration, co-perpetration, the three forms of joint criminal enterprise, the doctrine of common purpose under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, command responsibility and aiding and abetting.

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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

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