International law and the classification of conflicts
Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2012
Colombia continues to experience the longest running and constantly evolving armed conflict in the world today. There has been a great deal of fluctuation both in the intensity of the fighting, and the range and organization of the actors involved over nearly half a century of hostilities. Analysing all of the issues raised by so many years of conflict in-depth is impossible within the constraints of this chapter. Therefore, the authors look briefly at its origins and evolution, but concentrate on the period from 1994 to the present day, this being the period of the greatest intensity in fighting, with the greatest number of actors involved, and raising the most controversial issues in relation to the classification of conflicts. These issues include: whether criminal violence can ever be classified as being an armed conflict to which international humanitarian law is applicable; whether recognition of belligerency is still a viable concept in international law today; under what circumstances the acts of paramilitary groups may be attributed to the State in which they operate; and finally, in what circumstances hostilities carried out by one State in the territory of another State qualify as an international or a non-international armed conflict.