Unregulated armed conflict : non-state armed groups, international humanitarian law, and violence in Western Sahara
Host item entries:
North Carolina journal of international law and commercial regulation, Vol. 37, Spring 2012, p. 793-845
Orla Marie Buckley
The majority of armed conflict today occurs within states and involves one or more non-state armed groups (NSAGs). Despite the increasing role of NSAGs in armed conflict, international humanitarian law remains state-centric and provides limited opportunities for armed groups to comply with its provisions or engage in its development. This comment argues that the legal framework regulating internal armed conflict and NSAGs is inadequate and much weaker than the rules that govern states involved in international armed conflict. Part II examines the definition and development of NSAGs and discusses the advantages and disadvantages of accommodating NSAGs under IHL. Part III outlines the current legal framework of IHL to determine the level of regulation of NSAGs during an internal armed conflict. Part IV looks specifically at the application of IHL to one NSAG, the Polisario Front. Part V offers recommendations, focusing on measures to hold NSAGs more accountable and to better incorporate NSAGs into the IHL legal framework.