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 80 armed conflicts involving at least 55 states and more than 70 armed non-State actors.

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.

NEWS AND UPCOMING EVENTS

Donbass, destruction before a building News

Our Experts and Resources on Ukraine

31 October 2022

Discover our resources and what our experts say about the situation in Ukraine, with regular updates to include new events, articles and comments!

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Destuction in eastern Ukraine News

Referendums on Joining Russia in Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson: What Impact on Conflicts Classification?

10 October 2022

Our Research Fellow Dr Chiara Redaelli tells us whether these referendums will affect our RULAC classification of the armed conflicts that are currently taking place in Ukraine.

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Armoured vehicle patrolls the border, Tajikistan News

RULAC: Fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Amounts to an International Armed Conflict

26 September 2022

According to our RULAC online portal, the border fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that took place in mid-September 2022 amounts to an international armed conflict (IAC).

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RESEARCHERS

Chiara Redaelli

Research Fellow

Chiara Redaelli's areas of expertise include international humanitarian law, jus ad bellum, and international human rights law.

Past Events

2021 Current Issues in Armed Conflict Conference

19 November 2021, 14:00-17:30

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Armoured vehicle patrolls the border, Tajikistan News

RULAC: Fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan Amounts to an International Armed Conflict

26 September 2022

According to our RULAC online portal, the border fighting between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that took place in mid-September 2022 amounts to an international armed conflict (IAC).

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A man passes by a destroyed tank on the main street of Edaga Hamus, in the Tigray region, in Ethiopia, on June 5, 2021 News

RULAC Classifies a Second Non-International Armed Conflict in Ethiopia

16 August 2022

In addition to the ongoing non-international armed conflict (NIAC) that opposes Ethiopia to the Tigray People’s Liberation Front, our RULAC online portal just classified a parallel NIAC between Ethiopia and the Oromo Liberation Army.

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A Blackwater Security Company MD-530F helicopter aids in securing the site of a car bomb explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on December 4, 2004, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Event

Private Military Companies and the Future of Conflict

7 December 2022, 14:00-15:30

This panel discussion – co-organized with ICoCA – will consider the growing importance of PMCs and the role ICoCA might play in promoting human rights observance and strengthening accountability of these actors in armed conflicts.

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Yemen,  Sana'a, Faj Attan district. Destruction. Short Course

From Use of Force to Responsibility to Protect

24 May - 6 June 2023

This online short course provides an overview of the content and evolution of the rules governing the use of unilateral force in international law, including military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the fight against international terrorism. It focuses on the practice of states and international organizations.

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Syria,  Aleppo, great Umayyad mosque. Destructions. Short Course

The Interplay between International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

10 February - 14 March 2023

This online short course focuses on the specific issues that arise in times of armed conflict regarding the respect, protection and fulfilment of human rights. It addresses key issues like the applicability of human rights in times of armed conflict; the possibilities of restricting human rights under systems of limitations and derogations; and the extraterritorial application of human rights law.

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Central African Republic, Ouham province, village of Ouogo. International Humanitarian Law dissemination session to members of the Peoples' Army for the Restoration of Democracy. Project

From Words to Deeds: A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms

Started in January 2017

This project aims at compiling and analysing the practice and interpretation of selected international humanitarian law and human rights norms by armed non-state actors (ANSAs). It has a pragmatic double objective: first, to offer a comparative analysis of IHL and human rights norms from the perspective of ANSAs, and second, to inform strategies of humanitarian engagement with ANSAs, in particular the content of a possible ‘Model Code of Conduct’.

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Cover page of the study Publication

From Words to Deeds A Study of Armed Non-State Actors’ Practice and Interpretation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Norms: Research and Policy Conclusions

published on September 2022

Annyssa Bellal, Pascal Bongard, Ezequiel Heffes

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