Non-international Armed Conflicts

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Non-international armed conflicts, also known as internal armed conflicts or civil wars, refer to armed conflicts that take place within the borders of a single country between the government and one or more non-state armed groups, or between two or more non-state armed groups. Unlike international armed conflicts, which involve two or more nation-states, non-international armed conflicts involve non-state actors and are governed by different legal frameworks.

The term “non-international armed conflict” is primarily used within the framework of international humanitarian law (IHL) or the laws of war to distinguish these conflicts from international armed conflicts. The rules and principles of IHL apply to both types of conflicts, but there are some differences in the application and extent of certain provisions.

Characteristics of non-international armed conflicts may include:

  1. Parties to the Conflict: The conflict involves the government forces of a country and non-state armed groups such as rebel factions, insurgent groups, or militias. The non-state armed groups may have varying levels of organization, structure, and control over territory.
  2. Level of Violence: The conflict involves the use of armed force, which may include regular military operations, guerrilla warfare, terrorist attacks, or other forms of armed violence.
  3. Duration and Intensity: Non-international armed conflicts can vary in duration, ranging from relatively short-lived clashes to protracted conflicts that span years or even decades. The intensity of the conflict can also vary, with periods of escalated violence followed by relative calm.
  4. Impact on Civilians: Non-international armed conflicts often have a significant impact on civilian populations. Civilians may be caught in the crossfire, displaced from their homes, subjected to human rights abuses, or suffer from the destruction of infrastructure and services.

International humanitarian law provides a framework for the protection of civilians and combatants during non-international armed conflicts. It sets out rules regarding the conduct of hostilities, the treatment of prisoners of war, the protection of civilians, and the provision of humanitarian assistance.

Examples of non-international armed conflicts include the Syrian Civil War, the conflict in Yemen, the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan involving the Afghan government and the Taliban, and the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo involving various armed groups. It is important to note that the nature and dynamics of non-international armed conflicts can be complex and vary significantly depending on the specific context and actors involved.

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