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 39 armed conflicts involving at least 53 states.

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.

RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

Chiara Redaelli's areas of expertise include international humanitarian law, jus ad bellum, and international human rights law.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

View over Bunia, Ituri, DRC News

DRC: A New Conflict in Ituri involving the Cooperative for Development of the Congo (CODECO)

13 April 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties and applicable international law.

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Women in bright headscarves walk along Mogadishu street News

RULAC Classifies the Armed Violence between al-Shabab and the Islamic State in Somalia as a Non-International Armed Conflict

23 March 2021

Our RULAC online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of this conflict, including information about parties and applicable international law.

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Aerial view of the mountains in the Tigray region, Ethiopia News

A Non-International Armed Conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region

21 January 2021

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal provides a detailed analysis of this conflict, including information about parties, classification and applicable international law.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Laptop and tablet for online learning News

Online Short Courses on Offer for the Spring Semester

4 February 2021

For this spring semester, we offer a series of online short courses on topical and contemporary issues in the field of international humanitarian law, human rights and transitional justice.

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Portrait of Joshua Niyo News

Our Teaching Assistant Joshua Niyo Moves to UCLA School of Law to Finalize his Doctoral Research

24 February 2021

Joshua Niyo received a one-year Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF) Doc.Mobility grant to spend a year at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law as Visiting Researcher.

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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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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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Séléka rebels patrol in the town of Bria, Central African Republic (CAR). Project

Human Rights Responsibilities and Armed Non-State Actors

Completed in June 2018

This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.

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Cover page of the book Publication

War

published on July 2021

Andrew Clapham

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cover of the publication Publication

Military Briefing: Persons with Disabilities and Armed Conflict

published on March 2021

Alice Priddy

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