IRRC No. 903

When is a conflict international? Time for new control tests in IHL

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This article clarifies the control a State should have over an armed group for the triggering act of an international armed conflict and for the internationalization of non-international armed conflicts in international humanitarian law. It explains the reasons for the distinction between these two types of attribution and details the specificities of each test, with an innovative approach. The author proposes new control tests for both triggering and internationalization, rejecting the effective and overall control tests regarding internationalization proposed by the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. For instance, regarding the internationalization of a non-international armed conflict, a general and strict control test is proposed. Finally, this article addresses specific issues like the difficult question of the control required for an occupation through an armed group.

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