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

Ruined houses of Borodianka, Ukraine Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

2023 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

26 October 2023

This annual conference co-organized with the University of Essex provides a space for experts and practitioners, diplomats, academics, young scholars and civil society representatives to discuss contemporary legal issues in armed conflict.

Read more >

Donbass, destruction before a building News

Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

30 May 2023

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

Read more >

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

RULAC Classifies a New Non-International Armed Conflict in Sudan

2 May 2023

In addition to the ongoing non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) that oppose the Sudanese armed forces to a number of non-state armed groups in the country, our RULAC online portal just classified a parallel NIAC between Sudan and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) led by General Hamadan.

Read more >

RESEARCHERS

Portrait of Eugenie Duss

Eugénie Duss

Research Fellow

Eugénie Duss is a Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy

Past Events

2021 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

19 November 2021, 14:00-17:30

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

The European Court of Human Rights Building in Strasbourg, France News

Our Third-Party Intervention in Ukraine and the Netherland v. Russia

30 May 2023

The Geneva Academy has been granted leave by the Court to intervene as a third party in this case – along with 26 governments – and submitted its third-party intervention on 28 April 2023.

Read more

Armed Somali men stand guard over-looking Lido Beach 06 August 2012, in the Kaaraan Districtl in the Somali capital Mogadishu. News

New Paper Calls for Entire New Approach to Deal with Young People Associated with Non-State Armed Groups

4 September 2023

Our new Research Paper presents a comprehensive examination of the realities faced by 'Youth Associated with Non-State Armed Groups'.

Read more

Ruined houses of Borodianka, Ukraine Event

2023 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

26 October 2023

This annual conference co-organized with the University of Essex provides a space for experts and practitioners, diplomats, academics, young scholars and civil society representatives to discuss contemporary legal issues in armed conflict.

Read more

Cover page of the book Event

Armed Groups and International Law: A Legal Shadowland

10 October 2023, 12:30-14:30

On the occasion of the launch in Geneva of the volume Armed Groups and International Law. In the Shadowland of Legality and Illegality, panelists will reflect on the status of armed groups within a complex legal landscape.

Read more

Côte d'Ivoire,  Abidjan, military instruction center in Akandjé. An ICRC dissemination session on international humanitarian law for the 1st bataillon of commando paratroopers. Short Course

The Implementation of International Humanitarian Law

21 March - 19 April 2024

This online short course will cover the ‘nuts and bolts’ of implementation, including national legislation, dissemination and training, and discuss the mechanisms such as the International Fact-Finding Commission, as set out in the treaties.

Read more

Yemen,  Sana'a, Faj Attan district. Destruction. Short Course

From Use of Force to Responsibility to Protect

22-31 May 2024

This online short course provides an overview of the content and evolution of the rules governing the use of unilateral force in international law, including military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the fight against international terrorism. It focuses on the practice of states and international organizations.

Read more

A destroyed camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Khor Abeche, South Darfur, Project

Understanding the Relationship between Conflict, Security and the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

Started in May 2023

This project will develop guidance to inform security, human rights and environmental debates on the linkages between environmental rights and conflict, and how their better management can serve as a tool in conflict prevention, resilience and early warning.

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 page of the Working Paper Publication

Exploring Counterterrorism Effectiveness and Human Rights Law

published on September 2023

Gloria Gaggioli, Michael Moncrieff , Ilya Sobol

Read more