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

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Winning Essay Discusses Digital Safe Havens to Protecting Civilians from Military Cyber Operations

17 June 2021

In her winning essay Digital Safe Havens: Sheltering Civilians From Military Cyber Operations, Isabelle Peart brings forward novel suggestions on how to reduce the risk of harm to civilians posed by military cyber operations.

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Sana’a, Hay Soufan district. Damages caused by the fighting. News

New Book by Professor Andrew Clapham Examines How the Concept of War Affects the Application of the Law

29 June 2021

In his new book War, our Former Director and Faculty Member Professor Andrew Clapham discusses the relevance of the concept of war today and examines how our notions about war continue to influence how we conceive rights and obligations in national and international law.

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Cover page of the book Event

Book Launch: Rebel Courts

1 December 2021, 17:30-19:00

In this online book launch – part of our IHL Talk series – Professor René Provost will discuss with leading scholars in IHL and human rights the legal and practical challenges related to the administration of justice by armed groups.

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Short Course

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts

17 March - 8 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, 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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An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

9 March - 13 April 2022

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.

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A wheelchair completely destroyed after the bombing of a civilian area Project

Disability and Armed Conflict

Started in May 2016

This project aims to ensure better protection of and assistance for persons with disabilities in situations of armed conflict or its aftermath by identifying legal obligations to protect and assist persons with disabilities during conflict, and the policies and practices required to put these obligations into effect.

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Surveillance Camera Project

COUNTER-TERROR PROJECT: A LEGAL EMPIRICAL APPROACH

Started in June 2019

The ‘Counter-Terror Pro LegEm’ project combines legal analysis with social science research to (1) examine the effectiveness of counterterrorism measures and their effects on human rights and (2) analyse the structure of terrorist networks such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State and see whether they qualify as ‘organized armed groups’ for the purpose of international humanitarian law.

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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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