Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal features updated entries on the armed conflicts taking place in Iraq, Libya, Syria, South Sudan, Turkey and Yemen. These integrate recent developments like the Turkish offensive in Afrin, Israel’s largest scale aerial attacks inside Syria, and the divisions and infightings in Yemen.
While the U.S.-led international coalition continues to undertake airstrikes against the Islamic State group, the United States repeatedly targeted Syrian government positions in Syrian during 2017. Notably, Turkey expanded its involvement in January 2018 when it launched an offensive against the Kurdish Protection Units YPG in Afrin. In February 2018, Israel launched so far its largest scale aerial attacks inside Syria. Undertaken without the consent of the Syrian government, these foreign interventions amount to international armed conflicts.
Divisions and infighting between allies towards the end of 2017 and beginning 2018 added additional layers of complexity to the ongoing non-international armed conflicts in Yemen between the Houthis and the internationally recognized government of President Hadi.
First, in December 2017, the Houthi-Saleh alliance broke down and former President Saleh was killed during the fighting between the former allies in Sana’a. Second, in January 2018, fighting erupted in Aden between forces loyal to the Hadi government and the Southern Transitional Council / Southern Movement, a separatist group that had emerged in 2007 and allied itself with the Hadi government. The fighting between forces loyal to the Hadi government and the Southern Transitional Council / Southern Movement brought to the forefront divergences within the Saudi-led international coalition. The Saudi-led international coalition has been intervening in Yemen with the consent of the Hadi government since 2015. During the recent infighting, Saudi Arabia supported the Hadi government while the United Arab Emirates backed the Southern Transitional Council / Southern Movement.
In parallel, the United States significantly expanded its airstrikes against suspected al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula members in 2017.
The non-international armed conflict in Iraq continues despite the seizure of Mosul from the Islamic State group in July 2017. In September 2017, the people living in the Iraqi Kurdistan region voted in favour of independence. Since the vote for independence, Iraqi government forces re-entered and re-established control over areas previously controlled by Kurdish forces, namely the contested area of Kirkuk. Iraqi Kurdistan is not recognized as a state, and the independence referendum does not change this. Hence, the classification of the conflict remains unchanged.
During 2017, Tripoli saw repeated clashes between armed groups loyal to and armed groups opposed to the UN-backed Government of National Accord. The self-declared Libyan National Army continues to support the rival government of the House of Representatives and extended its territorial control in southern and eastern Libya in 2017.
In January 2017, the United States ended its airstrikes against the Islamic State group in support of and upon invitation of the UN-backed Government of National Accord and ceased to be a party to the conflict. The United States did not carry out further airstrikes until September and November 2017 against suspected Islamic State group militants. According to the United States, these airstrikes were carried out in coordination with the UN-backed Government of National Accord. However, unlike the previous airstrikes, they were not carried out with the objective of supporting armed groups allied with the government. Therefore, the United States is not a party to the armed conflict by virtue of these airstrikes.
Apparently without the consent of the UN-backed Government of National Accord, Egypt launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in May 2017. Undertaken without consent, these airstrikes amount to a short-lived international armed conflict.
The phased deployment of the Regional Protection Force authorized by Security Council Resolution 2304 (2016) began in August 2017. The Regional Protection Force is to supplement the existing UN peacekeeping mission and mandated to provide protection to key facilities and routes in Juba and to strengthen the security of UN Protection of Civilians’ sites in South Sudan.
On 21 December 2017, the parties to the non-international armed conflict in South Sudan signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreements. However, within weeks of its entry into force, the Agreement was repeatedly violated.
The non-international armed conflict in Turkey between the Turkish security forces and the Kurdistan Worker’s Party PKK continues. During 2017, the regional dimension of the conflict has become more pronounced with Turkey continuing to engage Kurdish militia in Syria and Iraq, viewing them as an extension of the PKK. The attacks against Kurdish militia allied with the international coalition against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria leads to tensions between Turkey and the members of the international coalition.
The Geneva Academy and the University of Essex’s School of Law and Human Rights Centre hosted the Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference representing a further example of the burgeoning relationship between the two institutions.
The President of the UN Human Rights Council appointed Professor Andrew Clapham to serve as a member of the UN Commission on Human Rights in South Sudan charged with monitoring and assessing the human rights situation in the country.
In this opening lecture of the academic year, Elisabeth Decrey Warner will share her experience, as Co-Founder and Former Executive President of Geneva Call, of promoting respect of international humanitarian law by armed non-state actors.
This course aims to study, in depth, an emblematic example of the complexity of international humanitarian law and the challenges it raises: the classification of armed conflicts.
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.
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.