New Publication Explores State Responsibility for Human Rights Violations Committed by Armed Non-State Actors in its Territory

M-13 combatttants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo M-13 combatttants in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

25 February 2019

Part of our multi-year project that focuses on human rights responsibilities and armed non-state actors (ANSAs), our new publication State Responsibility for Human Rights Violations Committed in the State Territory by Armed Non-State Actors explores the particular aspects of state responsibility for human rights violations committed by ANSAs in its territory.

De Facto Control Over a Territory by an ANSA: Lack of Remedy for Human Rights Violations

As a general fact, a state is only responsible for its own acts. But there are exceptional circumstances in which the conduct of an ANSA will invoke a state's responsibility.

The author, Tatyana Eatwell, explores various scenarios, including situations where an ANSA operates independently of any state and controls territory. She acknowledges that these situations of de facto control over a territory by an ANSA give rise to a protection gap where victims of human rights violations committed by the ANSA are left without recourse to remedy.

This question of jurisdiction does not arise for the application of international humanitarian law (IHL): in situations of armed conflict to which the ANSA is a party, the ANSA will be responsible for violations of IHL it has committed pursuant to Article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions and customary IHL.

The author, therefore, concludes that in situations of armed conflict, the state’s loss of control over part of its territory will give rise to a protection gap with respect to the substantive rights and freedoms guaranteed under international human rights law (IHRL), and not protected under IHL.

Addressing the Protection Gap

The author explains that the United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms have sought to close this protection gap by invoking the responsibility of the ANSA itself. However, she acknowledges that there is a lack of agreement as to whether ANSAs are bound by IHRL, and if so, what the nature of their obligations might be.

‘Tatyana Eatwell recommends the development of a shared understanding of the human rights obligations of ANSAs, a path that is currently undertaken by various Special Rapporteurs’ explains Felix Kirchmeier, Manager of Policy Studies at the Geneva Academy.

‘We will continue, via our research project, to work on this issue and collaborate with UN Special Rapporteurs who are interested in exploring the role and responsibilities of ANSAs in relation to their specific mandates’ he adds.

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

A man passes by a destroyed tank on the main street of Edaga Hamus, in the Tigray region, in Ethiopia, on June 5, 2021 News

RULAC Classifies a Second Non-International Armed Conflict in Ethiopia

16 August 2022

In addition to the ongoing non-international armed conflict (NIAC) that opposes Ethiopia to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, our RULAC online portal just classified a parallel NIAC between Ethiopia and the Oromo Liberation Army.

Read more

Map of the RULAC online portal News

Renewed Fighting Prompts the Reclassification of a Non-International Armed Conflict in Southern Thailand

22 August 2022

Renewed fighting – despite ongoing peace talks – prompted the reclassification of the armed violence between Thailand and the Barisan Revolusi Nasional Coordinate (BRN) on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict online portal.

Read more

Event

2022 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

18 October 2022, 09:00-19:00

The 2022 Annual Conference will focus on digital connectivity in the field of human rights. This includes a view of the digital connections by and among mechanisms within the human rights system, but also the substantive impacts of digitalization.

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

7 February - 21 March 2023

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

A session of the UN Human Rights Council Project

IHL Expert Pool

Started in January 2022

The IHL-EP works to strengthen the capacity of human rights mechanisms to incorporate IHL into their work in an efficacious and comprehensive manner. By so doing, it aims to address the normative and practical challenges that human rights bodies encounter when dealing with cases in which IHL applies.

Read more

Sign: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal Project

Local Implementation of Global Human Rights

Started in May 2020

The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Implementing the Treaty Body Review 2020 – Where do we stand

published on May 2022

Felix Kirchmeier, Chloé Naret, Domenico Zipoli

Read more

Cover of the publication Publication

Regulating business conduct in the technology sector gaps and ways forward in applying the UNGPs

published on April 2022

Ana Beduschi, Isabel Ebert

Read more