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 EVENTS

Kutum, North Darfur: Members of the Sudanese army patrol Kutum market News

Does the Recent Peace Agreement Put an End to the Non-International Armed Conflicts in Sudan?

September 2020

Our RULAC online portal provides a detailed analysis and legal classification of the various non-international armed conflicts that are taking place in Sudan. In this interview, our Research Fellow Dr Chiara Redaelli explains why the recent peace agreement does not put an end to them.

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Map of the RULAC online portal showing Ukraine News

Armed Conflicts in Ukraine: Updates on our RULAC Online Portal

July 2020

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal monitors the three armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine. Each conflict has been updated to include recent developments, which do not affect our current classification.

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Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window showing the IAC in Iraq.. News

RULAC: Update on the International Armed Conflict in Northern Iraq between Iraq and Turkey

June 2020

The RULAC entry on this conflict has been updated with an analysis of the situation and its evolution since the beginning of the conflict back in 2007, as well as developments in 2020 as the fighting continues in spite of COVID-19.

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Map of the RULAC online portal showing Ukraine News

Armed Conflicts in Ukraine: Updates on our RULAC Online Portal

July 2020

Our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) online portal monitors the three armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine. Each conflict has been updated to include recent developments, which do not affect our current classification.

Read more

View of the ICRC Headquarters News

LLM Students Develop Practical Cases for the ICRC on How IHL Applies in Armed Conflict

July 2020

Two students enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights – Marishet Mohammed Hamza from Ethiopia and Virginia Raffaeli from Italy – developed for the ICRC online casebook How does Law Protect in War? 26 practical cases that show how IHL applies in contemporary armed conflicts.

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Mali,  Gao region, Ansongo cercle, Fafa. ICRC dissemination session about international humanitarian law for the army of Mali. Event

Thinking out of the (Tool)Box: Promoting Implementation of and Respect for International Humanitarian Law

November 2020, 18:00-19:30

This IHL Talk aims at shining light on the various ways of promoting respect for and implementation of international humanitarian law.

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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

30 April - May 2021

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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Yemen,  Sana'a, Faj Attan district. Destruction. Short Course

From Use of Force to Responsibility to Protect

16 April - May 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, provides an overview of the evolution of the rules governing the use of force in international law, focusing on military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the creation of the United Nations collective security system. It then addresses the concept of the responsibility to protect.

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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

Started 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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On the screen, on the screen is Peter Maurer, President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), briefing the Security Council on the 70th Anniversary of Geneva Conventions. Project

International Humanitarian Law and the United Nations Security Council

Started in January 2020

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Cover page of the Annual Report 2019 Publication

Annual Report 2019

published on May 2020

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Cover of the publication Publication

From Words to Deeds: A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretations of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms

published on December 2019

Annyssa Bellal, Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes

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