Non-international armed conflict

Under Article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, non-international armed conflicts are armed conflicts in which one or more non-State armed groups are involved. Depending on the situation, hostilities may occur between governmental armed forces and non-State armed groups or between such groups only. As the four Geneva Conventions have universally been ratified now, the requirement that the armed conflict must occur "in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties" has lost its importance in practice. Indeed, any armed conflict between governmental armed forces and armed groups or between such groups cannot but take place on the territory of one of the Parties to the Convention.
Furthermore, two requirements are necessary for such situations to be classified as non international armed conflicts:

- The hostilities must reach a minimum level of intensity. This may be the case, for example, when the hostilities are of a collective character or when the government is obliged to use military force against the insurgents, instead of mere police forces.

- Non-governmental groups involved in the conflict must be considered as "parties to the conflict", meaning that they possess organized armed forces. This means for example that these forces have to be under a certain command structure and have the capacity to sustain military operations.

Additional Protocol II to the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 develops and supplements common Article 3 without modifying its existing conditions of application, by introducing a requirement of territorial control. It provides that non-governmental parties must exercise such territorial control "as to enable them to carry out sustained and concerted military operations and to implement this Protocol". Additional Protocol II expressly applies only to armed conflicts between State armed forces and dissident armed forces or other organised armed groups. Contrary to common Article 3, the Protocol does not apply to armed conflicts occurring only between non-State armed groups.

See also Application; Armed conflict; International armed conflict; Classification of conflict;
 

 OUTLINE

 LEGAL SOURCE

 DOCUMENT 

 CASES

ICTY, The Prosecutor v. Tadic (Part A., Paras. 67-70 and 96; Part E., Paras. 37-100)

ICTY, The Prosecutor v. Boskoski

Mali, Destruction of World Cultural Heritage

Yemen, Obstructing Medical Care

South Sudan: Medical Care Under Fire

United Kingdom, The Case of Serdar Mohammed (High Court Judgment)

ECHR, Al-Jedda v. UK

ECHR, Hassan v. UK

Philippines, Armed Group Undertakes to Respect Children

Somalia, the fate of Children in the conflict

Syria, Code of Conduct of the Free Syrian Army

US/Afghanistan, Transfer of Control over Bagram Prison

The armed conflict in Syria

Report of the Special Rapporteur on the Right of Everyone to the Enjoyment of the Highest Attainable Standard of Physical and Mental Health

U.S., Lethal Operations against Al-Qa’ida Leaders

Syria, Press conference with French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin

ICRC, International Humanitarian Law and the challenges of contemporary armed conflicts in 2015 (Paras. 27, 36-41, 55, 103-105)

Libya, Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014/15)

Health Care in Pakistan’s Tribal Areas

Yemen, Potential Existence and Effects of Naval Blockade

Sri Lanka, Naval War against Tamil Tigers

United Kingdom, The Case of Serdar Mohammed (Court of Appeal and Supreme Court Judgments)

El Salvador, Supreme Court Judgment on the Unconstitutionality of the Amnesty Law

United States, Jurisprudence Related to the Bombing of the U.S.S. Cole

Central African Republic, Report of the UN Independent Expert, July 2016

Syria, Report by UN Commission of Inquiry (March 2017)

Afghanistan, Bombing of a Civilian Truck

Italy, Use of force against ambulances in Iraq

Syria, the Battle for Aleppo

Iraq/Syria/UK, Drone Operations against ISIS

ICC, Confirmation of Charges against LRA Leader

International Criminal Court, Trial Judgment in the Case of the Prosecutor V. Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo

Iraq, The Battle for Mosul

ECJ, Aboubacar Diakité v. Commissaire général aux réfugiés et aux apatrides

Germany, Aerial Drone Attack in Mir Ali/Pakistan

Eastern Ukraine, OHCHR Report on the Situation: November 2016 - February 2017

United States of America, Military Commissions Trial Judiciary, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba: United States of America v. Khalid Shaikh Mohammad et al.

Syria, Syrian rebels treat captured Filipino soldiers as 'guests'

Mexico, The "War on Drugs"

Central African Republic/Democratic Republic of Congo/Uganda, LRA attacks

Central African Republic, Coup d'Etat

Iraq, Crimes by Militia Groups

Central African Republic, No Class: When Armed Groups Use Schools

Somalia, IHL violations in Somalia's long-running armed conflict

Lake Chad Basin, Multinational Joint Task Force and Boko Haram

Germany: Ramstein Air Base's Role in Drone Attacks

Syria: Attacks on Oil Infrastructure

 BIBLIOGRAPHIC RESOURCES

Suggested readings:
 
ABI-SAAB Georges, “Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in International Dimensions of Humanitarian Law, Geneva, Henry-Dunant Institute/UNESCO, 1986, pp. 217-239.
 
ABI-SAAB Georges, “Humanitarian Law and Internal Conflicts: The Evolution of Legal Concern”, in Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict Challenges Ahead, Essays in Honour of Frits Kalshoven, Dordrecht, M. Nijhoff, 1991, pp. 209-223.
 
ANGSTROM Jan, “Towards a Typology of Internal Armed Conflict: Synthesising a Decade of Conceptual Turmoil”, in Civil Wars, Vol. 4/3, 2001, pp. 93-116.
 
BOTHE Michael, “Article 3 and Protocol II: Case Studies of Nigeria and El Salvador”, in American University Law Review, Vol. 31/4, 1982, pp. 899-909.
 
BUGNION François, “Jus ad Bellum, Jus in Bello and Non-International Armed Conflicts”, YIHL, Vol. 6 (2003), 2007, pp. 167-198.
 
CULLEN Anthony, “Key Developments Affecting the Scope of Internal Armed Conflict in International Humanitarian Law”, in Military Law Review, Vol. 183, Spring 2005, pp. 66-109.
 
CULLEN Anthony, The Concept of Non-International Armed Conflict in International Humanitarian Law, Cambridge, CUP, 2010, 219 pp.
 
DAHL Arne Willy & SANDBU Magnus, “The Threshold of Armed Conflict”, in Revue de droit militaire et de droit de la guerre, Vol. 3-4, No. 45, 2006, pp. 369-388.
 
JUNOD Sylvie S., “Additional Protocol II: History and Scope”, in The American University Law Review, Vol. 33/1, Fall 1983, pp. 29-40.
 
KALSHOVEN Frits, “Applicability of Customary International Law in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in CASSESE Antonio (ed.), Current Problems of International Law, Milan, Giuffrè, 1975, pp. 267-285.
 
KWAKWA Edward, The International Law of Armed Conflict: Personal and Material Fields of Application, Dordrecht, Kluwer, 1992, 208 pp.
 
MOMTAZ Djamchid, “Le droit international humanitaire applicable aux conflits armés non internationaux”, in Collected Courses, Vol. 292, 2001, pp. 9-146.
 
MOIR Lindsay, The Law of Internal Armed Conflict, Cambridge, CUP, 2002, 297 pp. “Humanitarian Protection in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in IYHR, Vol. 30, 2000, pp. 1-226.
 
PERNA Laura, The Formation of the Treaty Law of Non-International Armed Conflicts, Leiden, M. Nijhoff, 2006, 168 pp.
 
SCHMITT Michael N., DINSTEIN Yoram & GARRAWAY Charles H. B. (eds), “The Manual of Law of Non-International Armed Conflict: with Commentary”, in IYHR, Vol. 36, 2006, 71 pp.
 
SIVAKUMARAN Sandesh, “Identifying an Armed Conflict not of an International Character”, in STAHN Carsten & SLUITER Göran (eds), The Emerging Practice of the International Criminal Court, Leiden, Boston, M. Nijhoff, 2009, pp. 363-380.
 
Further readings:
 
ABI-SAAB Rosemary, Droit humanitaire et conflits internes : Origine de la réglementation internationale, Paris/Geneva, Pedone/Henry-Dunant Institute, 1986, 280 pp.
 
BARTELS Rogier, “Timelines, Borderlines and Conflicts: the Historical Evolution of the Legal Divide between International and Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in IRRC, Vol. 91, No. 873, March 2009, pp. 35-67
 
BOTHE Michael, “Conflits armés internes et droit international humanitaire”, in RGDIP, Vol. 82/1, 1978, pp. 82-102.
 
BYRON Christine, “Armed Conflicts: International or Non-International?”, in Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 6, No. 1, June 2011, pp. 63-90.
 
COWLING Michael, “International Lawmaking in Action: the 2005 Customary International Humanitarian Law Study and Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in African Yearbook on International Humanitarian Law, 2006, pp. 65-87.
 
CRAWFORD Emily, “Blurring the Lines Between International and Non-International Armed Conflicts: The Evolution of Customary International Law Applicable in Internal Armed Conflicts”, in Australian International Law Journal, Vol. 15, 2008, pp. 29-54
 
CULLEN Anthony, “The Definition of Non-International Armed Conflict in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: an Analysis of the Threshold of Application Contained in Article 8(2)(f)”, in Journal of Conflict & Security Law, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2007, pp. 419-445.
 
FLECK Dieter, “Humanitarian Protection in Non-international Armed Conflicts: the New Research Project of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law”, in IYHR, Vol. 30, 2000, pp. 1-16.
 
FOUQUET Catherine de (ed.), Guerres civiles, Toulouse, Presse universitaire du Mirail, 1997.
 
HOFFMANN Michael H., “The Customary Law of Non-International Armed Conflict: Evidence from the United States Civil War”, in IRRC, No. 277, July-August 1990, pp. 322-382
 
KÜEFNER Stefanie, “The Threshold of Non-International Armed Conflict: the Tadic Formula and its First Criterion Intensity”, in Militair-Rechtelijk Tijdschrift, Vol. 102, Issue 6, 2009, pp. 301-311.
 
LA HAYE Eve, War Crimes in Internal Armed Conflicts, Cambridge, CUP, 2008, 424 pp.
 
LYSAGHT Charles, “The Scope of Protocol II and its Relation to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Other Human Rights Instruments”, in American University Law Review, Vol. 33/1, 1983, pp. 9-27.
 
PIERNAS Carlos, “The Protection of Foreign Workers and Volunteers in Situation of Internal Conflict, with Special Reference to the Taking of Hostages”, in IRRC, No. 287, March-April 1992, pp. 143-172.
 
SASSÒLI Marco, “The Legal Qualification of the Conflicts in the former Yugoslavia: Double Standards or New Horizons for International Humanitarian Law?”, in WANG Tieya & YEE Sienho (eds), International Law in the Post-Cold War World: Essays in Memory of Li Haopei, Routledge, London, 2001, pp. 307-333
 
SCHINDLER Dietrich, “The Different Types of Armed Conflicts According to the Geneva Conventions and Protocols”, in Collected Courses, Vol. 163, 1979, pp. 119-163.
 
SIOTIS Jean, Le droit de la guerre et les conflits armés d’un caractère non international, Paris, LGDJ, 1958, 248 pp.
 
TURNS David, “At the ‘Vanishing Point’ of International Humanitarian Law: Methods and Means of Warfare in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, German Yearbook of International Law = Jahrbuch für Internationales Recht, Vol. 45, 2002, pp. 115-148.
 
VERHOEVEN Sten, “International and Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in Institute for International Law K.U. Leuven, Working Paper No. 107, 2007, 22 pp.
 
VEUTHEY Michel, “Les conflits armés de caractère non international et le droit humanitaire”, in CASSESE Antonio (ed.), Current Problems of International Law, Milan, Giuffrè, 1975, pp. 179-266.
 
VEUTHEY Michel, Guérilla et droit humanitaire, Geneva, ICRC, 1983, 451 pp.
 
VITE Sylvain, “Typology of Armed Conflicts in International Humanitarian Law: Legal Concepts and Actual Situations”, in IRRC, Vol. 91, No. 873, March 2009, pp. 69-94
 
WEHBERG Hans, “La guerre civile et le droit international”, in Collected Courses, Vol. 63, 1938, pp. 1-127.
 
WYSS Gabriela M., Der nicht internationale bewaffnete Konflikt in El Salvador: Die Anwendung des Zusatzprotokolles II von 1977 zu den Genfer Abkommen von 1949, Verlag Hans Schellenberg, Winterthur, 1989, 225 pp.
 
ZORGBIBE Charles, La guerre civile, Paris, PUF, 1975, 208 pp.
 
“Declaration on the Rules of International Humanitarian Law Governing the Conduct of Hostilities in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in IRRC, No. 278, September-October 1990, 5 pp.
 
“Rules of International Humanitarian Law Governing the Conduct of Hostilities in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in IRRC, No. 278, September-October 1990, pp. 383-403.