The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict by Sandesh Sivakumaran

About the author(s):

Katharine Fortin is an Associate Professor at Utrecht University where she teaches IHL and IHRL. Before joining Utrecht University, she worked at the ICTY, ICC and Norton Rose Fulbright. She is the author of The Accountability of Armed Groups under Human Rights Law (Oxford University Press, 2017) which won the 2018 Lieber Prize. She has written widely about the framework of law that applies to armed groups in non-international armed conflicts and is one of the editors of the Armed Groups and International Law blog.

On 9th August 2012, Oxford University Press brought out Sandesh Sivakumaran’s book on the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict.

Stretching to a massive 696 pages, the book promises to:-

(1) Make sense of the rules and principles applicable to non-international armed conflict, the world’s most prevalent and deadly type of war;

(2) Provide new insights on the law of non-international armed conflict, drawing on the views and practice of both governments and irregular armed forces;

(3) Identify and synthesize the relevant rules from international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and international criminal law; and

(4) Take a historical view: analyses armed conflicts from the US civil war, the Algerian War of Independence, and the attempted secession of Biafra, through to the current conflicts in the Colombia, Philippines, and Sudan.

Over the last years, Sivakumaran has become a recognised expert on armed groups and non-international armed conflict in general. His writing on the law relating to armed groups has addressed the difficult questions of how armed groups are bound by international law (see here), the courts of armed opposition groups (see here) and codes of conduct and law-making ability of armed groups (see here and here).

Sivakumaran’s expertise and writings on armed groups creates an expectation that a similar focus will be maintained in his book on non-international armed conflicts. If this is so, his book will be an especially valuable addition to the existing literature on non-international armed conflicts. 

The description of the book on the OUP website indicates that the book will not disappoint in this regard. For in addition to providing a historical review of the legal framework applying to non-international armed conflict, the book is said to pay “particular attention… to the oft-neglected views of armed groups”. According to the description, this is done through an analysis of hundreds of statements, unilateral declarations, internal regulations and bilateral agreements issued by armed groups. Equivalent material emanating from states parties to conflicts is also considered.

The contents page of the book is as follows:-


Part I: Identifying an armed conflict not of an international character

1. Non-International Armed Conflicts and Internal Tensions and Disturbances

2. Non-International and international armed conflicts

Part II: Legal Regulation of non-international armed conflict

3. Ad-hoc Regulation

4. Attempts at Systematic Regulation

5. A Body of International Law

6. The Law and its Acceptance

Part III: the substantive law of non-international armed conflict

7. Scope of Application

8. Protection of Civilians, Civilian Objects, and Persons Hors de Combat

9. Conduct of Hostilities

Part IV: Implementation And Enforcement

10. Implementation and Non-Judicial Enforcement

11. Judicial Enforcement

Part V: Concluding Thoughts


Anyone who knows Sivakumaran’s writing, knows that he is painstakingly thorough in his analysis. In the light of this – and the book’s stated aim to pay attention to the armed groups’ perspective – the book promises to be an essential reference for those working on issues related to non-international armed conflicts and armed groups.

Sandesh Sivakumaran is a lecturer at the School of Law, University of Nottingham. He has worked at the International Court of Justice, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone, and has acted as an expert for intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. He is a recipient of the Giorgio La Pira Prize and the Antonio Cassese Prize for International Criminal Law Studies.

The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict by Sandesh Sivakumaran

696 pages | 234x156mm
978-0-19-923979-5 | Hardback | 09 August 2012
Price:  £95.00
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1 thought on “The Law of Non-International Armed Conflict by Sandesh Sivakumaran”

  1. Pingback: ICRC led discussion on typology of armed conflicts and related issues | Armed Groups and International Law

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