Completing in 2020, this project was in partnership with the Human Rights Centre, University of Essex and Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
Determining whether a situation of violence qualifies as an armed conflict, or not, is essential to determining the applicable legal framework. Given the significant differences between the law of armed conflict/international humanitarian law and international human rights law with respect to, for example, detention or the use of lethal force, conflict classification is of fundamental importance to those involved in, or affected by, a situation of violence.
As it stands, however, there is no central authority to which interested States, organisations, or individuals can refer to for guidance on this issue. As such, there is uncertainty as to whether specific situations qualify as armed conflicts, or not. This is where The Rule of Law in Armed Conflict website fits in. The RULAC website was a unique project developed to provide easily accessible and understandable information on current situations of violence throughout the world. It was run by the Geneva Academy and the University of Essex and provided up-to-date academic opinion as to whether a situation of violence constitutes an international armed conflict, a non-international armed conflict, or an internal disturbance/tension. Its intended audience was States and diplomats working at the United Nations, humanitarian actors, and other organisations working in affected areas.
In collaboration with the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law & Human Rights, and under the supervision of senior staff at the University of Essex Human Rights Centre, the team worked to classify contemporary situations of violence around the world, and the results of this work were published on the RULAC website.
This project provided students with significant experience working on conflict classification, partnership with well-respected organisations, and the opportunity to greatly develop expertise in the law of armed conflict and its practical application.