IRRC No. 882

A collection of codes of conduct issued by armed groups

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Foreword This issue of the International Review of the Red Cross addresses the importance of understanding armed groups and the norms by which they are bound. One way of gaining insight into armed groups and engaging with them on improving respect for the law is to examine the rules and decisions that they choose to adopt. In 2008, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) published a study on increasing the respect for international humanitarian law (IHL) in noninternational armed conflicts. The study identified codes of conduct as one of the legal tools to improve compliance of armed groups with IHL.While they do not guarantee respect for the law, codes of conduct provide an important glimpse into the ideological and organizational structure of an armed group, its chain of command,and the rights and obligations that the hierarchy of the armed group chooses to bestow on its members. Furthermore, codes of conduct can provide a basis upon which legal representations can be made and accountability required regarding norms of IHL. Several authors in this edition of the Review discuss the importance of codes of conducts for understanding and engaging with armed groups. The Review has thus decided to include a collection of codes of conduct, or relevant extracts thereof. All materials in this collection are publicly available. They originate from various geographic areas and time periods – from China in 1947 to Libya in 2011 – and provide an insight into different armed groups' views of and appreciation of humanitarian norms. The publication of these codes of conduct does not in any wayimply endorsement by the Review of the content of these documents.  

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