OJ Symposium on Internationalized Armed Conflicts in International Law

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.

Readers interested in conflict classification and internationalised armed conflicts should take a look at the recent symposium on Kubo Macak’s excellent book Internationalized Armed Conflicts in International Law.

During the symposium, nine different authors – Susan BreauBill BoothbyAnne QuintinLaurie BlankTamás HoffmannmyselfElvina PotheletPriya Pillai, and Alonso Gurmendi – commented on the book, each focusing on slightly different aspects and then Kubo finished up with a final post.

The authors taking part in the symposium raised, and prompted reflection on, a number of fascinating and difficult questions, such as:-

  1. Is there such a thing as an internationalized armed conflict? (see here, here and here)
  2. Can/ should the rules of IAC apply to a non-State party acting jointly with (but not under the overall control of) a State in hostilities against another State? (see here, here and here)
  3. Is there an inherent illogicality in establishing an IAC (through the application of the overall control test) without necessarily being able to attribute the use of force to the State (through the application of the effective control test)? And what do we do with the responsibility gap that is created, if this position is adopted? (see here)
  4. Will an existing IAC make it easier for a nascent NIAC to meet the intensity threshold? (see here)
  5. Are the members of an armed group under the control of a third State bound by the rules of GCIII re. POWs, in the same way as a State’s regular armed forces? (see here)
  6. How convincing is the argument that a State’s own citizens become protected persons during an internationalized conflict? (see here and here)
  7. Are unilateral declarations by armed groups binding (see here)?
  8. Does combatant privilege grant immunity from prosecution or deprive acts that comply with IHL of their criminal character? (see here and here)
  9. Is it possible that immunity flowing from the internationalization of a NIAC into a IAC could end up being an obstacle – rather than facilitator – of peace and reconciliation? (see here and here)
  10. Is the threshold of the definition of irregular armed forces under Article 4 of GCIII more relaxed – or stricter – than the threshold in Articles 43 and 44 of API? (see here and here)
  11. Can an armed group ever be an occupying force in a state’s territory? (see here and here)
  12. What is the role of State consent in the process of the internationalization of a conflict? (here)
  13. Does the internationalization of a NIAC into an IAC affect the legal personality of the armed group? (see here and here)

If you’re looking for some good questions for your next IHL exam, look no further….!

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