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

A Private Afghan Security Company technical armed with a DShK heavy machine gun sits along the side of a road. U.S.Forces stopped this security company's convoy due to reports from locals claiming that the security company had been shooting sporadic gunfi News

The Involvement of Mercenaries and Private Military Security Companies in Armed Conflicts: What does IHL Say?

9 November 2021

Several armed conflicts classified in our RULAC online portal see the participation of mercenaries or private military security companies alongside states’ armed forces. Dr Chiara Redaelli, in charge of RULAC and an expert in IHL, answers our questions regarding what IHL says about this phenomenon.

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Homepage of the RULAC online portal News

Online Survey of our RULAC Online Portal

5 October 2021

The survey aims at improving this unique tool by collecting users’ feedbacks on its content, their use of the information provided on RULAC, and the sections consulted.

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Road sign in Palma, Cabo Delgado, Moçambique News

Mozambique: Our RULAC Classifies Two New Non-International Armed Conflicts

30 September 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal classified the armed violence opposing Mozambique to RENAMO splinter groups and the al-Shabab as non-international armed conflicts.

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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 Private Afghan Security Company technical armed with a DShK heavy machine gun sits along the side of a road. U.S.Forces stopped this security company's convoy due to reports from locals claiming that the security company had been shooting sporadic gunfi News

The Involvement of Mercenaries and Private Military Security Companies in Armed Conflicts: What does IHL Say?

9 November 2021

Several armed conflicts classified in our RULAC online portal see the participation of mercenaries or private military security companies alongside states’ armed forces. Dr Chiara Redaelli, in charge of RULAC and an expert in IHL, answers our questions regarding what IHL says about this phenomenon.

Read more

Microphone Condenser, gold mic News

New Podcast Series Hosted by Professor Gaeta Discusses the Challenges Raised by Lethal Autonomous Weapons

6 September 2021

In the new podcast series ‘Lethal Autonomous Weapons: 10 Things We Want to Know’ launched in July, Professor Paola Gaeta and her research team discuss with other experts the challenges and problems raised by lethal autonomous weapons (‘LAWS‘).

Read more

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 - 13 May 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, 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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Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

11 February - 4 March 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

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Mine Project

Business, Human Rights and Conflict-Affected Regions

Started in July 2021

This project aims to further identify and clarify policies and practices for States and business, 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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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

The UN Security Council and Common Article 1: Understanding the Role of Peacekeeping Operations in Ensuring Respect for IHL

published on October 2021

Émilie Max

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Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

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