With ICRC assistance, a civilian is released after being detained by an armed group in Colombia. ICRC / Y. Montero

Why engaging with non-state armed groups?

This position paper introduces the approach taken by the ICRC for humanitarian engagement with non-state armed groups.
Article 05 July 2021

Humanitarian engagement with armed groups, including non-state armed groups (NSAGs) has long been a defining feature of the ICRC's work. In today's challenging environment the organization must more than ever pursue direct contact and dialogue with armed groups in order to alleviate the suffering of persons affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence.

The position paper outlines the main reasons for ICRC engagement with NSAGs, focussing on:

  • The features of today's NSAG environment
  • The legal basis for the ICRC's engagement
  • Access to civilians, and the acceptance of the ICRC in the NSAG environment
  • Building respect for international humanitarian law, protection dialogue and influencing behaviours
    Some challenges to current NSAG engagement