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 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.

Read more >

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

RULAC: Update on the Non-International Armed Conflict in Turkey

May 2020

The non-international armed conflict in Turkey – which opposes the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) – has been updated with a section on the origins of the conflict, information about its evolution in 2019-2020, and an analysis as to whether the TAK, a splinter group of the PKK, is also a party to this NIAC.

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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 >

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