Non-international Armed Conflict


A non-international armed conflict (NIAC), also known as an internal armed conflict or civil war, is a type of armed conflict that takes place within the borders of a single country. In contrast to international armed conflicts, which involve two or more states, NIACs involve a government or central authority and one or more organized armed groups, such as rebel groups, militias, or other non-state actors.

Key characteristics of a non-international armed conflict include:

  1. Parties involved: The conflict involves the government or central authority of a country and one or more organized armed groups. These groups may be seeking political, ideological, ethnic, or territorial objectives and may have varying levels of control over certain territories or populations.
  2. Intensity of the conflict: NIACs involve sustained and intense hostilities between the parties, often characterized by the use of armed force and organized military operations. The level of violence can range from sporadic skirmishes to full-scale battles.
  3. Territory: The conflict primarily takes place within the borders of a single country. The armed groups may control specific regions or areas within the country, challenging the authority of the government over those territories.
  4. Applicable international law: International humanitarian law, particularly the rules and principles of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocol II, applies to non-international armed conflicts. These laws provide protection for civilians, combatants who are hors de combat (out of action), and ensure basic humanitarian principles are respected.
  5. Duration: NIACs can last for varying lengths of time, ranging from months to years or even decades. The duration may depend on the complexity of the conflict, the objectives of the parties involved, and external factors such as international support or intervention.

Non-international armed conflicts can have devastating consequences, including significant loss of life, displacement of populations, human rights abuses, and destruction of infrastructure. Resolving such conflicts often requires political negotiations, peace agreements, and efforts to address the root causes of the conflict, such as social, economic, or political grievances.

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