Book Discussion 18th January 2024: Armed Groups and International Law: In the Shadowland of Legality and Illegality

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 Thursday 18th January, there will be a book panel discussion at Utrecht University on the new edited volume that Ezequiel Heffes and I edited: – ‘Armed Groups and International Law: In the Shadowland of Legality and Illegality’ (Edward Elgar 2023). Through a careful consideration of the status of armed groups within a complex legal landscape, the volume identifies and examines the tensions that arise due to their actions existing across a spectrum of legality and illegality. Considering the number of armed groups currently exercising governance functions and controlling territory and population in the world, its analysis is especially topical.

The book is a collaborative effort between scholars from different disciplines and it summarises various points of contention within the study of these armed actors, detailing examples that are relevant to the contemporary world. It is an invitation to see ‘armed groups’ differently, focusing on the various functions and activities they undertake in armed conflict. Addressing law-making, rebel governance and accountability, it is hoped that this book will be of benefit to students of international humanitarian law, human rights law, international criminal law, public international law seeking to expand their understanding of the treatment of armed groups within the international legal system. It is also intended to serve as a useful resource for practitioners working in the area of civilian protection and academics conducting research on armed conflict from a variety of disciplines.

The discussion on 18th January will be chaired by Terry Gill and five of the authors – Katharine Fortin, Rogier Bartels, Alessandra Spadaro, Daniëlla Dam-de Jong and Helen Duffy – will provide insights into both the project and their individual chapters.  The discussion will cover a whole range of topics explored in the edited volume, including combatant immunity versus criminal responsibility for members of armed groups, rebel governance, power-sharing agreements and rebel justice mechanisms.

The event is open to members of the public, but attendees are asked to register in advance by sending an email to secretariaatiersbr@uu.nl entitled ‘AGIL – book discussion’. The entrance to the Sweelinckzaal at Drift 21, is via the UU library (Drift 27) on the Drift. The event will take place in the Sweelinckzaal at Drift 21, Utrecht. It will start at 18.15 and will run until 19.45.

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