Armed Opposition Groups and Shared Responsibility

Veronika Bílková

SHARES Research Paper 62 (2015)

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This article is part of the collection of articles on Organised Non-State Actors, edited by Jean d'Aspremont, André Nollkaemper, Ilias Plakokefalos and Cedric Ryngaert. The collection was organised with support of the research project on Shared Responsibility in International Law (SHARES) at the Amsterdam Center for International Law (ACIL) of the University of Amsterdam, the Utrecht Centre for Accountability and Liability Law, and the Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies. Published in: (2015) 62 Netherlands International Law Review 69-89.

Modern armed conflicts are characterised by numerous interactions between armed opposition groups and other actors (states, international organisations, other non-state actors etc.). Some of these interactions result in harmful outcomes that cannot be easily attributed to a single actor. Issues of shared responsibility thus arise. Such issues have so far been largely ignored in international law. The article argues that the legal régime of shared responsibility applicable to armed opposition groups could be construed in two ways. On the one hand, it would be possible to extend to armed opposition groups rules of (shared) responsibility for internationally wrongful acts which apply to states. On the other hand, the legal régime could be based on liability (strict responsibility), or on standard-setting. The article shows that all these options have certain limitations stemming from the specific features of armed opposition groups (limited legitimacy, internal diversity, and temporary existence) and suggests combining their elements.

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