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.

Partners

Essex University

The RULAC project is supported by a law clinic at the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex.

In accordance with the RULAC methodology, a team of postgraduate students actively review contemporary situations of violence in order to determine whether they constitute an international armed conflict, a non-international armed conflict, a situation of occupation, or whether these situations fall short of the required legal threshold.

This input is of invaluable help for the Geneva Academy team producing the entries for RULAC.

Video

The Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Online Portal

In this short video, our Senior Research Fellow Dr Sandra Krähenmann presents our Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC) online portal, including the map which allows visitors to search armed conflicts and their parties via multiple filters.

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

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window showing the NIACs in Nigeria. News

RULAC Classifies the Armed Violence between the Nigerian Armed Forces and the Islamic State in West Africa Province as a Non-International Armed Conflict

March 2020

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

Read more >

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window showing the NIACs in Mexico. News

Two New Non-International Armed Conflicts in Mexico Involving the Sinaloa Drug Cartel

March 2020

Further research conducted by the RULAC research team highlighted that the level of organization of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the intensity of the armed violence between this cartel and both the Mexican armed forces and the CJNG allow classifying these two situations as non-international armed conflicts.

Read more >

Portrait of Chiara Redealli News

Meet our Researchers: Chiara Redaelli

March 2020

Dr Chiara Redaelli is one of our Research Fellows in international humanitarian law. She currently works on our Rule of Law in Armed Conflict (RULAC) project.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Portrait of Chiemelie Michael Agu News

Meet our Pictet Team: Chiemelie Michael Agu

February 2020

Chiemelie Michael Agu is enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. He will travel to Bali, Indonesia to represent the Geneva Academy at the Anglophone Edition of the 2020 Jean-Pictet Competition – along with Melina Fidelis Tzourou and Yulia Mogutova.

Read more

Map of the RULAC online portal with the pop-up window showing the NIACs in Mexico. News

Two New Non-International Armed Conflicts in Mexico Involving the Sinaloa Drug Cartel

March 2020

Further research conducted by the RULAC research team highlighted that the level of organization of the Sinaloa Cartel, as well as the intensity of the armed violence between this cartel and both the Mexican armed forces and the CJNG allow classifying these two situations as non-international armed conflicts.

Read more

View of Villa Moynier Event

Open House: Executive Master in International Law in Armed Conflict

June 2020, 12:00-14:00

Join us for our open house to learn more about this part-time programme designed professionals, meet staff, students and alumni, and discuss career opportunities.

Read more

Mali, Gao:  Gao region, Ansongo cercle, Tessit. ICRC dissemination session about international humanitarian law for an armed group. Event

Generating Compliance with Humanitarian Norms: The Less-Explored Avenues

May 2020, 14:30-16:00

Join us online to discuss innovative approaches to generate respect for international humanitarian law during armed conflicts.

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Screenshot of the RULAC webpage Project

Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts (RULAC)

Started in May 2007

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.

Read more

Cover page of the Annual Report 2019 Publication

Annual Report 2019

published on May 2020

Read more

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

Read more