Engaging armed groups
IRRC No. 883
Most wars today pit states against armed groups, and talking with such groups is therefore vital for all those working to promote compliance with the law and strengthen the protection of conflict victims. Reaching them, however, involves overcoming material, security-related, legal and political obstacles. What arguments can be invoked to convince armed groups? How can their adherence to international humanitarian law (IHL) be strengthened when they are themselves outlaws according to domestic law? How to engage with armed groups in an international context in which any dialogue may be perceived as a form of betrayal or complicity?
Table of contents
Editorial: Engaging armed groups
Interview with David Kilcullen
David Kilcullen, a leading expert on counter-insurgency policy, gives his views on recent developments relating to armed groups and military tactics, but also on some of the humanitarian community’s main concerns related to counter-insurgency strategies.
Engaging non-state armed actors in state and peace-building: options and strategies
Armed actors dominate contemporary conflict environments dramatically. Their degree of dispersion, influence, and effect on international politics make it necessary to establish strategies for interaction with them. This article makes a contribution by assessing particular strategies and their suitability and applicability with regard to specific actors. First, it delineates options for dealing with armed actors based on three perspectives from international relations theory: realist, institutionalist, and constructivist. Second, it matches these perspectives to the capabilities of international actors. Finally, it offers an assessment of the difficulties that arise from the plurality of forms of armed actors, as well as of external actors.
Humanitarian engagement under counter-terrorism: a conflict of norms and the emerging policy landscape
This article identifies two countervailing sets of norms and discusses how this conflict of norms might affect the capacity of humanitarian organizations to deliver life-saving assistance in areas under the control of one of these groups.
Participation of armed groups in the development of the law applicable to armed conflicts
After reviewing five main reasons why armed groups should be involved in the advancement of the law governing armed conflicts, this article offers a brief overview of selected means by which armed groups should be engaged in the creation of future norms, as well as in the interpretation and contextualization of existing norms.
Monitoring armed non-state actor compliance with humanitarian norms: a look at international mechanisms and the Geneva Call Deed of Commitment
Armed non-state actors are involved in most armed conflicts today, yet international law provides few mechanisms to ensure that they comply with humanitarian norms applicable to them.
Between insurgents and government: the International Committee of the Red Cross’s action in the Algerian War (1954–1962)
The French government and an armed insurrectionary movement confronted each other for over seven years in the Algerian War, which would become the archetype of wars of national liberation. It brought the new conditions of struggle in revolutionary warfare to a convulsive climax characterized by terrorist attacks, underground warfare, and repression.
Taking prisoners: reviewing the international humanitarian law grounds for deprivation of liberty by armed opposition groups
This article looks at the customary international humanitarian law prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of liberty, and how it can apply to armed opposition groups in a manner that makes compliance realistic.
Detention by armed groups: overcoming challenges to humanitarian action
The author presents the challenges inherent in approaching armed groups with regard to persons detained by them, and explores the options open to humanitarian practitioners in that regard. Tuck describes the ICRC practice in this field and its limitations, sharing the unique know-how that the organization has acquired throughout the years.
Closing the gap: symbolic reparations and armed groups
The question of whether non-state armed groups could and should provide reparations to their victims has been largely overlooked. This article explores this gap, with a particular focus on symbolic reparations, such as acknowledgement of the truth and apologies.
Enhancing civilian protection from use of explosive weapons in populated areas: building a policy and research agenda
This article describes the effects of explosive violence, critically examines how the existing humanitarian law regime tends to address this issue and explores some current developments in building a research and policy agenda to try to reduce civilian harm from the use of explosive weapons.
The European Court of Human Rights’ Al-Jedda judgment: the oversight of international humanitarian law
The author discusses the implications of the recent Al-Jedda judgment of the European Court on Human Rights for the ability of states parties to that treaty to conduct detention operations in situations of armed conflict.
What’s new in law and case law across the world (Autumn 2011)
he biannual report on national legislation and case law is an important tool in promoting the exchange of information on national measures for implementation of international humanitarian law (IHL). The ICRC was asked to undertake this task of information exchange through a resolution adopted at the 26th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in 1996.
Books and articles (Autumn 2011)
Recent acquisitions of the Library and Public Archives, ICRC