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Armed groups, sanctions and the implementation of international humanitarian law

30-06-2008 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No 870, by Anne-Marie La Rosa and Carolin Wuerzner

This article examines the obligations of armed groups to impose sanctions and their possibilities for doing so. It discusses characteristics of armed groups that influence their willingness and ability to comply with IHL and to punish those of their members who commit violations and it analyses the different methods of punishment, including disciplinary sanctions, penal sanctions imposed by the State and penal sanctions imposed by the group itself.

   
Dr Anne-Marie La Rosa is Legal Adviser at the Advisory Service, Legal Division, ICRC.   She also teaches international criminal law. Carolin Wuerzner holds a LL.M. of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights and is editorial assistant at the International Review of the Red Cross. 
 
Abstract 
While it is widely accepted that punishing the perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law is an important instrument in improving compliance with the law, little research has been done into the obligations on armed groups to impose sanctions and their possibilities for doing so. This article discusses characteristics of armed groups that influence their willingness and ability to comply with international humanitarian law and to punish those of their members who commit violations. It takes a holistic approach to these sanctions, and analyses the different methods of punishing members of armed groups, including disciplinary sanctions, penal sanctions imposed by the state and penal sanctions imposed by the group itself.  


 
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 (correction page 331, fn 8 = Protocol I Additional)

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