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The Classification of the Conflict in Libya and Syria - A critique of the organization requirement

Ejnarsson, Emelie LU (2013) LAGF03 20131
Department of Law
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to examine what constitutes a non-international armed conflict (NIAC), using the conflicts in Libya respectively Syria as examples of how different this can be interpreted. This definition is of great importance when it comes to what rules to apply and criminal accountability. NIACs are regulated in international humanitarian law (IHL) conventions such as the Geneva Conventions article 3 and in Additional Protocol II (AP II). IHL provides protection from armed conflict. There is however no definition of a NIAC in these treaties, NIAC has instead been defined in case-law from the ICTY. There are two requirements for an armed conflict to exist: a certain amount of intensity in the conflict and organization of the... (More)
The purpose of this paper is to examine what constitutes a non-international armed conflict (NIAC), using the conflicts in Libya respectively Syria as examples of how different this can be interpreted. This definition is of great importance when it comes to what rules to apply and criminal accountability. NIACs are regulated in international humanitarian law (IHL) conventions such as the Geneva Conventions article 3 and in Additional Protocol II (AP II). IHL provides protection from armed conflict. There is however no definition of a NIAC in these treaties, NIAC has instead been defined in case-law from the ICTY. There are two requirements for an armed conflict to exist: a certain amount of intensity in the conflict and organization of the parties. These are the demands for article 3’s applicability, for AP II the demands are even higher requiring responsible command and a possibility to implement IHL among others. If one party does not fulfill the organization requirement than no party has to implement IHL, leaving civilians unprotected from all sides.
The difference between the conflict in Libya and Syria is the organization degree of the rebels. This is a usual difficulty when it comes to classifications of armed conflicts, not only for the armed group to fulfill but also for outside observers to obtain enough information about. The rebels in Libya however not only fulfilled the threshold for article 3 in just a few weeks, but also the one for AP II. In Syria the requirements for article 3 however were not fulfilled until over a year of fighting, in spring/summer 2012. When you look at these classifications, there seem to be a difference in how the information in the two cases is valued. Also in the case of Libya the classifiers seem to be more generous regarding the fulfillment of these criteria, in Syria however the requirements almost seem to be raised. The UN decision to legitimize other states to intervene in Libya might also have affected the classification process, even though political decisions should not.
The organization requirement has been criticized for being set to high. Unrealistic demands will just hurt the humanitarian values these rules are supposed to protect. This is especially true considering that a majority of the armed conflicts today are asymmetrical NIACs. Legal scholars have given different proposals regarding how to address this, however they always seem to lack something. One thing is clear though, that if IHL are going to be put to good use, these demands have to be lowered not raised, to avoid difficulties similar to those in the classification of Syria. Clearer criteria regarding the organization requirement may also help to avoid classification problems. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Syftet med den här uppsatsen är att undersöka definitonen av en icke-internationell väpnad konflikt. Konflikten i Libyen respektive Syrien kommer att användas som exempel på hur olika detta kan tolkas. Definitonen av en konflikt är av stor betydelse för vilka regler som ska appliceras på den och för straffansvar. IIVK regleras i internationell humanitär rättsliga (IHR) konventioner som Genèvekonventionernas artikel 3 och i dessa konventioners Tilläggsprotokoll II. IHR erbjuder skydd mot väpnade konflikter. Det finns dock ingen definition av IIVK i dessa traktat, det har istället utvecklats i praxis från ICTY. Det ställs två krav för att en väpnad konflikt ska existera: en viss grad av intensitet i konflikten respektive organisation av... (More)
Syftet med den här uppsatsen är att undersöka definitonen av en icke-internationell väpnad konflikt. Konflikten i Libyen respektive Syrien kommer att användas som exempel på hur olika detta kan tolkas. Definitonen av en konflikt är av stor betydelse för vilka regler som ska appliceras på den och för straffansvar. IIVK regleras i internationell humanitär rättsliga (IHR) konventioner som Genèvekonventionernas artikel 3 och i dessa konventioners Tilläggsprotokoll II. IHR erbjuder skydd mot väpnade konflikter. Det finns dock ingen definition av IIVK i dessa traktat, det har istället utvecklats i praxis från ICTY. Det ställs två krav för att en väpnad konflikt ska existera: en viss grad av intensitet i konflikten respektive organisation av parterna. Detta är kraven för artikel 3:s tillämplighet, för TP II ställs ännu högre krav bl.a. innehållande krav på ansvarigt befäl och en möjlighet att implementera IHR. Om en part inte uppfyller organisationskravet så måste ingen part implementera IHR, vilket lämnar civila oskyddade från alla sidor.
Skillnaden mellan konflikten i Libyen och Syrien är organisationsgraden hos rebellerna. Detta är ett vanligt problem angående klassifikationen av väpnade konflikter, inte bara för den väpnade gruppen att uppfylla utan även för utomstående observatörer att erhålla tillräckligt mycket information om. Rebellerna i Libyen uppfyllde inte bara artikel 3:s krav under bara några veckor, utan även TP II:s. I Syrien uppfylldes kraven för artikel 3 först efter ca ett år av stridande, våren/sommaren 2012. När man tittar på klassifikationerna så verkar de skiljas åt rörande hur informationen i bägge fallen värderas. I fallet Libyen verkar kriterierna också ha tolkats mer generöst, i Syrien verkar det dock nästan ställas högre krav. FN:s beslut att legitimera utomstående staters inblandning i Libyen kan ev. också ha påverkat klassifikationsprocessen, trots att politiska beslut inte bör gör detta.
Organisationskravet har blivit kritiserat för att vara för högt ställt. Orealistiska krav skadar bara de humanitära värden som dessa regler syftar till att skydda. Detta är speciellt viktigt då de flesta väpnade konflikter idag är asymmetriska IIVK. Jurister har givit flera förslag för att åtgärda detta, varje förslag verkar dock innehålla brister. En sak som är klar är dock att ifall IHR ska komma till användning där den behövs, så måste dessa krav sänkas och inte höjas, för att undvika klassifikationssvårigheter som de i Syrien. Tydligare kriterier angående organisationskravet kan också vara till hjälp för att undvika klassifikationsproblem. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
Ejnarsson, Emelie LU
supervisor
organization
course
LAGF03 20131
year
type
M2 - Bachelor Degree
subject
keywords
public international law armed conflicts international humanitarian law Libya Syria organization of armed groups
language
English
id
3800627
date added to LUP
2013-09-11 13:46:38
date last changed
2013-09-11 13:46:38
@misc{3800627,
  abstract     = {The purpose of this paper is to examine what constitutes a non-international armed conflict (NIAC), using the conflicts in Libya respectively Syria as examples of how different this can be interpreted. This definition is of great importance when it comes to what rules to apply and criminal accountability. NIACs are regulated in international humanitarian law (IHL) conventions such as the Geneva Conventions article 3 and in Additional Protocol II (AP II). IHL provides protection from armed conflict. There is however no definition of a NIAC in these treaties, NIAC has instead been defined in case-law from the ICTY. There are two requirements for an armed conflict to exist: a certain amount of intensity in the conflict and organization of the parties. These are the demands for article 3’s applicability, for AP II the demands are even higher requiring responsible command and a possibility to implement IHL among others. If one party does not fulfill the organization requirement than no party has to implement IHL, leaving civilians unprotected from all sides.
The difference between the conflict in Libya and Syria is the organization degree of the rebels. This is a usual difficulty when it comes to classifications of armed conflicts, not only for the armed group to fulfill but also for outside observers to obtain enough information about. The rebels in Libya however not only fulfilled the threshold for article 3 in just a few weeks, but also the one for AP II. In Syria the requirements for article 3 however were not fulfilled until over a year of fighting, in spring/summer 2012. When you look at these classifications, there seem to be a difference in how the information in the two cases is valued. Also in the case of Libya the classifiers seem to be more generous regarding the fulfillment of these criteria, in Syria however the requirements almost seem to be raised. The UN decision to legitimize other states to intervene in Libya might also have affected the classification process, even though political decisions should not.
The organization requirement has been criticized for being set to high. Unrealistic demands will just hurt the humanitarian values these rules are supposed to protect. This is especially true considering that a majority of the armed conflicts today are asymmetrical NIACs. Legal scholars have given different proposals regarding how to address this, however they always seem to lack something. One thing is clear though, that if IHL are going to be put to good use, these demands have to be lowered not raised, to avoid difficulties similar to those in the classification of Syria. Clearer criteria regarding the organization requirement may also help to avoid classification problems.},
  author       = {Ejnarsson, Emelie},
  keyword      = {public international law armed conflicts international humanitarian law Libya Syria organization of armed groups},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {The Classification of the Conflict in Libya and Syria - A critique of the organization requirement},
  year         = {2013},
}