About

Definitions

Armed opposition group (AOG): “organised armed entities that are involved in armed conflict, which are primarily motivated by political goals and which operate outside State control, thereby lacking legal capacity to become party to relevant international treaties. These include armed groups, national liberation movements and de facto governing authorities.” (see definition of Geneva Call, using the term ‘armed non-state actor ). They engage in hostilities a priori as non-state actors not under the control of any State, even if their conduct can be attributed to a State other than the territorial State.

Court of an AOG: defined in the sense of a ‘regularly constituted court’ of an armed group under Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions. It is interpreted as a judicial body constituted according to the ‘laws’, ie generally binding norms of the AOG. While the commentary of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions require that a ‘regularly constituted court’ of an armed group operates under the essential guarantees of fair trial, ie independence and impartiality, the database does not apply this limitation for the publication of the decisions. Alternatively, without adopting generally binding norms, AOGs could operate courts applying the existing legislation of the territorial State in which they operate.

Judgment of an AOG: a binding decision of a court of an AOG regarding the rights and liabilities of parties in a legal action or proceeding. It can be written or oral.

Concept

This database seeks to collect judicial decisions of non-state actors, States and international organisations with regard to courts of armed opposition groups.

While various scholarly works have examined the available domestic remedies in armed conflicts or the normative sources binding and issued by armed opposition groups, less academic research has focused on the justice provided by armed opposition groups or de facto authorities. The scarcity of academic research is mainly due to the fact of the unavailability of empirical data on judgments of armed opposition groups de facto controlling a part of the territory of the territorial State. The proposed project aims to fill this empirical gap by collecting, classifying, translating and publishing judicial decisions of and about courts of armed opposition groups.

The focus is on the courts set up by armed opposition groups, but the database also collects domestic and international judgments providing on the legal effect of rulings issued by courts of armed opposition groups. The reason for broadening the scope of the database from decision of unrecognised armed opposition groups/de facto regimes to judgments of States and international courts is the interest to take into account their legal effect as recognised by domestic and international courts. Beyond publishing their text, the database does not prejudge the legal value (validity and legal effect) of the published sources.

The project’s goal is to develop and make available an empirical online database on judicial decisions of and about courts of armed opposition groups. The database shall provide sources for further analysis for practitioners and researchers in international law, human rights, political science or international studies.

Minerva Center of the University of Haifa (Israel). Justice in non-international armed conflicts”  of the Manchester International Law Centre of the University of Manchester in cooperation with the Research Group of International Law of Armed Conflicts (EDICA) of the University of Louvain. The project is funded by the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions, Faculty of Law and Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, University of Haifa.