Welcome on Board: Improving Respect for International Humanitarian Law Through the Engagement of Armed Non-State Actors

  • Annyssa Bellal
Part of the Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law book series (YIHL, volume 19)


Contemporary armed conflicts are characterised by an increase of violence against civilians and a lack of compliance with international humanitarian law (IHL) by both states and armed non-state actors (ANSAs). The international community has acknowledged the importance of engaging ANSAs on compliance with international norms to any effort to improve the protection of civilians in armed conflict, despite the fact that it is, in some contexts, actively discouraged or even prohibited by states. This chapter aims at identifying the key elements as well as the challenges underlying the humanitarian engagement of armed non-state actors. It will argue that meaningful engagement, that is engagement that also takes on board the views, perceptions and conceptions of international norms by ANSAs calls for a much more sustained effort from the part of the international community. These efforts include the need of more systematic research on the facts and scale in which ANSAs allegedly violate IHL, more inquiry in their actual practice and their impact on the development of international norms, a clarification on the applicable legal framework as well as a more thorough reflection on means to establish a coherent and just system of accountability in case of violations.


Armed non-state actors Humanitarian engagement Counter-terrorism Peace mediation International humanitarian law International human rights law Accountability Responsibility 


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human RightsGenevaSwitzerland

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