Engaging Armed Groups Through the Development of Human Rights Obligations: Incorporating Practice, Motivation and Ideology to Promote Compliance with International Law

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

Abstract

Non-State armed groups exert extensive influence on populations around the world. However, international law does not effectively regulate the relationship between armed groups and populations subject to their authority or influence and so much of this interaction occurs in a legal vacuum. This chapter proposes international human rights law as a solution. The application of international human rights law obligations to armed groups is increasingly accepted, but the precise content of the resultant obligations is unclear. Significantly, the development of the law in this regard presents a unique opportunity to actively engage armed groups, and to encourage their compliance with human rights law, and international law more broadly. It is suggested that if the practice of armed groups and their motivations are incorporated into the development of human rights obligations, then the resultant obligations can be used not only to regulate armed group activity but also to guide it. Human rights law can be used to demonstrate to armed groups how they can govern in the best interests of the affected population—thereby promoting human rights protection—and why it is in their interest that they do so—thereby promoting compliance. This chapter examines armed groups’ practice, motivations, and ideology and discusses armed group governance activities related to the administration of justice and service provision in order to illustrate how the proposed approach could proceed. Although the focus is on international human rights law, where international humanitarian law is applicable it must also inform the development of any obligations.

Keywords

Armed groups Governance Compliance Human rights Humanitarian law Engagement 

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.International Human Rights Law, School of Law & Human Rights CentreUniversity of EssexWivenhoe Park, ColchesterUK

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