Advertisement

Armed Groups, Rebel Coalitions, and Transnational Groups: The Degree of Organization Required from Non-State Armed Groups to Become Party to a Non-International Armed Conflict

  • Tilman Rodenhäuser
Chapter
Part of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law book series (YIHL, volume 19)

Abstract

Identifying non-state parties to armed conflicts becomes increasingly complex. As seen in recent conflicts in Syria, Libya, Yemen, or the Central African Republic, turmoil or inter-communal tensions escalate into armed conflicts, armed groups fragment increasingly, and some armed groups operate transnationally. Over the past decade, international jurisprudence developed numerous indicative factors to identify organized armed groups. While recognizing their great value, this chapter proposes to take a step back from these concrete indicators in order to recall broad but fundamental characteristics that any party to non-international armed conflict needs to have under international humanitarian law. It is shown that every party to a non-international armed conflict has to fulfil three criteria: it has to be (1) a collective entity; (2) with capabilities to engage in sufficiently intense violence; and (3) internal structures sufficient to ensure respect for basic humanitarian norms. Building on this basic understanding, the chapter provides an analysis of two questions that are highly relevant in contemporary conflicts but understudied: First, what link needs to exist between different armed groups in order to be considered one party to a conflict? And second, at what point can two or more groups that operate in different states form one transnational party to conflict?

Keywords

Non-state armed group Organized armed group Non-international armed conflict Party to a conflict Organization Organization criterion Transnational conflict Transnational armed group Global war on terrorism Islamic State 

References

Articles, Books and Other Documents

  1. Akande D (2012) Classification of Armed Conflicts: Relevant Legal Concepts. In: Wilmshurst E (ed) International Law and the Classification of Conflicts. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 32–80Google Scholar
  2. Ambos K, Alkatout J (2012) Has “Justice Been Done”? The Legality of Bin Laden’s Killing Under International Law. Israel Law Review 45:341–366Google Scholar
  3. Arimatsu L, Choudhury M (2014) The Legal Classification of the Armed Conflicts in Syria, Yemen and Libya. Chatham House, LondonGoogle Scholar
  4. Beale J (1896) The Recognition of Cuban Belligerency. Harvard Law Journal 9:406–419Google Scholar
  5. Bianchi A, Naqvi Y (2011) International humanitarian law and terrorism. Hart, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  6. Blank L, Corn G (2013) Losing the Forest for the Trees: Syria, Law, and the Pragmatics of Conflict Recognition. Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 46:693–746Google Scholar
  7. Bothe M (2002) War Crimes. In: Cassese A, Gaeta PJ (eds) The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: A Commentary. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 379–425Google Scholar
  8. Corn G (2015) Triggering the Law of Armed Conflict? In: Corn J (ed) The war on terror and the laws of war: a military perspective. Oxford University Press, New York, pp 33–70Google Scholar
  9. Corn G, Jensen E (2009) Transnational Armed Conflict: A “Principled” Approach to the Regulation of Counter-Terror Combat Operations. Israel Law Review 42:1–34Google Scholar
  10. Cullen A (2014) The Characterization of Armed Conflict in the Jurisprudence of the ICC. In: Stahn C (ed) The Law and Practice of the International Criminal Court. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 762–777Google Scholar
  11. Dahl AW, Sandbu M (2006) The Threshold of Armed Conflict. Military Law and Law of War Review 45:369–388Google Scholar
  12. de Preux J (1960) Commentary: III Geneva Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. ICRC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  13. de Vattel E (1758) The Law of Nations (translation by Chitty J). T & JW Johnson & Co, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  14. Dinstein Y (2014) Non-International Armed Conflicts in International Law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  15. Dörmann K, Rodenhäuser T (2017) Contemporary Challenges for International Humanitarian Law. Essays in Honour of Djamchid Momtaz. In: Crawford J, Koroma AG, Mahmoudi S, Pellet A (eds) The International Legal Order: Current Needs and Possible Responses. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 677–699Google Scholar
  16. Draper GIAD (1965) The Geneva Conventions of 1949. Collected Courses of the Hague Academy of International Law, Vol 114. Brill Nijhoff, LeidenGoogle Scholar
  17. Federal Political Department (Switzerland) (1949) Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol II-BGoogle Scholar
  18. Ferraro T (2013) The applicability and application of international humanitarian law to multinational forces. International Review of the Red Cross (95):561–612Google Scholar
  19. Ferraro T (2015) The ICRC’s legal position on the notion of armed conflict involving foreign intervention and on determining the IHL applicable to this type of conflict. International Review of the Red Cross (97):1227–1252Google Scholar
  20. Garraway C (2015) Armed Conflicts and Terrorist Organizations. In: van de Herik L, Schrijver N (eds) Counter-terrorism Strategies in a Fragmented International Legal Order: Meeting the Challenges. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 425–432Google Scholar
  21. Gentili A (1589) De jure belli libri tres. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  22. Guevara C (1961) Guerilla Warfare. Manchester University Press, ManchesterGoogle Scholar
  23. Gunaratna R, Oreg A (2010) Al Qaeda’s Organizational Structure and its Evolution. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism 33:1043–1078Google Scholar
  24. Greenwood C (2008) Historical Development and Legal Basis. In: Fleck D, Bothe M (eds) The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 1–38Google Scholar
  25. Hashim A (2006) Insurgency and counter-insurgency in Iraq. Hurst, LondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Heller K (2016) The use and abuse of analogy in IHL. In: Ohlin J (ed) Theoretical Boundaries of Armed Conflict & Human Rights. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 192–231Google Scholar
  27. Henckaerts J-M, Doswald-Beck ML (2005) Customary International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  28. Hoffman B (2006) Inside terrorism. Columbia University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  29. Holliday J (2012) Syria’s Armed Opposition. Middle East Security Report 3. Institute for the Study of War, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  30. Human Rights Council (2011) Report of the International Commission of Inquiry to investigate all alleged violations of international human rights law in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya. UN Doc. A/HRC/17/44Google Scholar
  31. Human Rights Council (2012a) Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. UN Doc. A/HRC/19/69Google Scholar
  32. Human Rights Council (2012b) Report of the independent international commission of inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. UN Doc. A/HRC/21/50Google Scholar
  33. Human Rights Council (2012c) Report of the International Commission of Inquiry on Libya. UN Doc. A/HRC/19/68Google Scholar
  34. ICC - The Office of the Prosecutor (2014) Situation in the Central African Republic II: Article 53(1) Report. https://www.icc-cpi.int/iccdocs/otp/Art_53_1_Report_CAR_II_24Sep14.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2017
  35. ICRC (1971) Rules Applicable in Guerrilla Warfare - Paper Submitted to the Conference of Government Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  36. ICRC (2003) International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts. www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/ihlcontemp_armedconflicts_final_ang.pdf. Accessed 27 December 2016
  37. ICRC (2007) International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts. https://www.icrc.org/eng/assets/files/other/ihl-challenges-30th-international-conference-eng.pdf. Accessed 30 October 2016
  38. ICRC (2011) International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts. https://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/documents/report/31-international-conference-ihl-challenges-report-2011-10-31.htm. Accessed 29 June 2017
  39. ICRC (2014) Internment in Armed Conflict: Basic Rules and Challenges. Opinion Paper. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/internment-armed-conflict-basic-rules-and-challenges. Accessed 30 October 2016
  40. ICRC (2015) International humanitarian law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts. https://www.icrc.org/en/document/international-humanitarian-law-and-challenges-contemporary-armed-conflicts. Accessed 30 October 2016
  41. ICRC (2016) Commentary on the First Geneva Convention - Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  42. Institut de Droit International (1900) Droits et devoirs des Puissances étrangères, au cas de mouvement insurrectionnel, envers les gouvernements établis et reconnus qui sont aux prises avec l’insurrection. http://www.justitiaetpace.org/idiF/resolutionsF/1900_neu_02_fr.pdf. Accessed 25 June 2017
  43. International Law Commission (2011) Draft articles on the responsibility of international organizations, with commentaries. UN Doc. A/66/10Google Scholar
  44. Kress C (2001) War Crimes Committed in Non-International Armed Conflict and the Emerging System of International Criminal Justice. Israel Yearbook on Human Rights 30:103–177Google Scholar
  45. Kress C (2010) Some Reflections on the International Legal Framework Governing Transnational Armed Conflicts. Journal of Conflict and Security Law 15:245–274Google Scholar
  46. Kretzmer D (2009) Rethinking the Application of IHL in Non-International Armed Conflicts. Israel Law Review 42:8–45Google Scholar
  47. Lauterpacht H (2012) Recognition in international law. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  48. Lubell N (2015) Transnational Non-International Armed Conflicts. International Institute of Humanitarian Law, XXXVIII Round Table on Current Issues of International Humanitarian Law, San Remo, 3–5 September 2015Google Scholar
  49. Mackinlay J (2002) The Classification of Insurgent Forces. The Adelphi Papers 42(352):41–92Google Scholar
  50. Margulies P, Sinnot M (2015) Crossing Borders to Target Al-Qaeda and Its Affiliates: Defining Networks as Organized Armed Groups in Non-International Armed Conflicts. Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 16:319–345Google Scholar
  51. McQuinn B (2012) After the Fall: Libya’s Evolving Armed Groups. Small Arms Survey. Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  52. Melzer N (2014) The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants. In: Clapham A, Gaeta P (eds) The Oxford Handbook of International Law in Armed Conflict. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 296–331Google Scholar
  53. Meron T (2000) The Humanization of Humanitarian Law. American Journal of International Law 94:239–278Google Scholar
  54. Moir L (2002) The Law of Internal Armed Conflict. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  55. Moir L (2015) The Concept of Non-International Armed Conflict. In: Clapham A, Gaeta P, Sassòli M (eds) The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 391–414Google Scholar
  56. Munoz-Rojas D, Fresard JJ (2004) The roots of behaviour in war: Understanding and preventing IHL violations. International Review of the Red Cross 86:189–206Google Scholar
  57. Palchetti P (2013) The allocation of responsibility for internationally wrongful acts committed in the course of multinational operations. International Review of the Red Cross 98:727–742Google Scholar
  58. Paulus A, Vashakmadze M (2009) Asymmetrical war and the notion of armed conflict – a tentative conceptualization. International Review of the Red Cross 91:95–125Google Scholar
  59. Pejic J (2015) Extraterritorial targeting by means of armed drones: Some legal implications. International Review of the Red Cross 96:67–106Google Scholar
  60. Pejic J (2007) Status of Armed Conflicts. In: Wilmshurst E (ed) Perspectives on the ICRC Study on Customary International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 77–100Google Scholar
  61. Pictet JS (1958) Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war: Commentary. ICRC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  62. Preston SW (2014) The Framework Under U.S. Law for Current Military Operations. http://www.foreign.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Preston_Testimony.pdf. Accessed 8 January 2017
  63. Radin S (2013) Global Armed Conflict? The Threshold of Extraterritorial Non-International Armed Conflicts. International Law Studies 13:696–743Google Scholar
  64. Rodenhäuser T (2018) Organizing Rebellion: Non-State Armed Groups under International Humanitarian Law, Human Rights Law, and International Criminal Law. Oxford University Press, Oxford (forthcoming)Google Scholar
  65. Rodenhäuser T, Giacca G (2016) The international humanitarian law framework for humanitarian relief during armed conflicts and complex emergencies. In: Breau S, Samuel K (eds) Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law. Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, pp 132–152Google Scholar
  66. Rousseau J-J (1762) Du contrat social. Dover Publications, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  67. Sandoz Y, Swinarski C, Zimmermann B (eds) (1987) Commentary on the additional protocols of 8 June 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. Martinus Nijhoff Publishers and ICRC, GenevaGoogle Scholar
  68. Sassòli M (2006) Transnational Armed Groups under International Humanitarian Law. HPCR Occasional Paper Series 6Google Scholar
  69. Schmitt MN (2012) Classification of Cyber Conflict. Journal of Conflict & Security Law 17:245–260Google Scholar
  70. Schöberl K (2015) The Geographical Scope of Application of the Conventions. In: Clapham A, Gaeta P, Sassòli M (eds) The 1949 Geneva Conventions: A Commentary. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 68–83Google Scholar
  71. Scott JB (1923) Prize cases decided in the United State Supreme Court. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  72. Sinno AH (2011) Armed groups’ organizational structure and their strategic options. International Review of the Red Cross 93:311–332Google Scholar
  73. Sivakumaran S (2009) Identifying An Armed Conflict Not Of An International Character. In: Sluiter G, Stahn C (eds) The Emerging Practice of the International Criminal Court. Brill Academic Publishers, Leiden, pp 361–380Google Scholar
  74. Sivakumaran S (2012a) The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  75. Sivakumaran S (2012b) Command Responsibility in Irregular Groups. Journal of International Criminal Justice 10:1129–1150Google Scholar
  76. Tse-tung M (1937) Mao Tse-tung On Guerrilla Warfare. U.S. Marine Corps, Washington DCGoogle Scholar
  77. UN Security Council (2014) The International Commission of Inquiry on the Central African Republic - Final Report. UN Doc. S/2014/928Google Scholar
  78. UN Security Council (2016) Report of the Secretary-General on the threat posed by ISIL (Da’esh) to international peace and security and the range of United Nations efforts in support of Member States in countering the threat. UN Doc. S/2016/92Google Scholar
  79. U.S. Department of Defense (2015) Remarks by the General Counsel of the Department of Defense on the Legal Framework for the United States’ Use of Military Force Since 9/11. http://www.defense.gov/News/Speeches/Speech-View/Article/606662. Accessed 30 October 2016
  80. Watkin K (2009) Opportunity Lost: Organized Armed Groups and the ICRC Direct Participation in Hostilities Interpretive Guidance. New York University Journal of International Law and Politics 42:641–695Google Scholar
  81. Weinstein JM (2007) Inside rebellion: the politics of insurgent violence. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  82. Wheaton H (1936) Elements of International Law. Clarendon Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar

Case Law

  1. ICC, Prosecutor v Callixte Mbarushimana, Decision on the Confirmation of Charges, 16 December 2011, Case No. ICC-01/04-01/10Google Scholar
  2. ICC, Prosecutor v Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, Judgment, 21 March 2016, Case No. ICC-01/05-01/08-3343Google Scholar
  3. ICC, Prosecutor v Germain Katanga, Judgment, 7 March 2014, Case No. ICC-01/04-01/07-3436Google Scholar
  4. ICC, Prosecutor v Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, Judgment, 14 March 2012, Case No. ICC-01/04-01/06-2842Google Scholar
  5. ICJ, Case Concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Bosnia and Herzegovina v Serbia and Montenegro), Judgment, 26 February 2007, [2007] ICJ Rep 43Google Scholar
  6. ICTY, Prosecutor v Duško Tadić a/k/a “Dule”, Decision on the defence motion for interlocutory appeal on jurisdiction, 2 October 1995, Case No. IT-94-1-AR72Google Scholar
  7. ICTY, Prosecutor v Duško Tadić, Judgment, 15 July 1999, Case No. IT-94-1-AGoogle Scholar
  8. ICTY, Prosecutor v Ljube Boškoski and Johan Tarčulovski, Judgment, 10 July 2008, Case No. IT-04-82-TGoogle Scholar
  9. ICTY, Prosecutor v Fatmir Limaj, Haradin Bala and Isak Musliu, Judgment, 30 November 2005, Case No. IT-03-66-TGoogle Scholar
  10. ICTY, Prosecutor v Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, Judgment, 3 April 2008, Case No. IT-04-84-TGoogle Scholar
  11. ICTY, Prosecutor v Ramush Haradinaj, Idriz Balaj and Lahi Brahimaj, Retrial Judgment, 29 November 2012, Case No. IT-04-84bis-TGoogle Scholar
  12. ICTY, Prosecutor v Slobodan Milošević, Decision on Motion for Judgment of Acquittal, 16 June 2004, Case No. IT-02-54-TGoogle Scholar
  13. ICTY, Prosecutor v Vlastimir Đorđević, Judgment, 23 February 2011, Case No. IT-05-87/1-TGoogle Scholar
  14. United States District Court for the District of Columbia, Adel Hamlily et al. v Barack Obama et al., 19 May 2009, Civil Action No. 05-0763 (JDB)Google Scholar

Treaties

  1. Geneva Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, opened for signature 12 August 1949, 75 UNTS 135 (entered into force 21 October 1950)Google Scholar
  2. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, opened for signature 8 June 1977, 1125 UNTS 609 (entered into force 7 December 1978)Google Scholar
  3. Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, Annex to Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land, opened for signature 18 October 1907, 187 CTS 227 (entered into force 26 January 1910)Google Scholar
  4. Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, opened for signature 17 July 1998, 2187 UNTS 90 (entered into force 1 July 2002)Google Scholar
  5. Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, opened for signature 23 May 1969, 1155 UNTS 331 (entered into force 27 January 1980)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© T.M.C. Asser Press and the authors 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.ICRCGenevaSwitzerland

Personalised recommendations