Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction


The Situation in Tigray and the Duty to Investigate Serious Violations in the Context of Armed Conflicts under International Law

Fikire Tinsae Birhane


It has been noted by various commentators, including myself, that there has been a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) between the Federal Government of Ethiopia and the dissident forces of the former ruling party of the Tigray region of Ethiopia, the Tigray People Liberation Front (TPLF) since around the late hours of 3 November 2020 (see here, here, here, and here). In addition to the two opposing parties to the conflict, Eritrean forces have also been taking part in the conflict on the side of the Federal Government. Such involvement of a foreign state does not change the non-international character of the conflict.

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The Potential of Common Article 1 to the Geneva Conventions in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict (and Beyond)

Kilian Roithmaier


Since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh War in 1994, Armenia and Azerbaijan have remained in dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh region that is internationally considered to be part of Azerbaijan and occupied by Armenia. The conflict has triggered occasional fighting in the past, but the most recent and intense round of hostilities erupted after Azerbaijan commenced a military offensive on 27 September 2020. On 9 November 2020, Armenia and Azerbaijan concluded a ceasefire agreement brokered by Russia. Whether the truce, despite reported violations, will hold and resolve the decades-old dispute, remains yet to be seen.

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Reformulating Rules on Dual Object Targeting

Ishita Chakrabarty |

The debate over conducting a UN led inquiry into the attacks on Syrian hospitals again brought the issue of dual object targeting to the forefront. This development followed an airstrike on a Libyan detention centre at Al Sabaa in July, 2019, in spite of prior knowledge regarding its coordinates. In both cases, the authorisers of the attack justified the strike on the ground that the centres were being used by the belligerent parties to store ammunitions, missiles and other weapon systems. As Kevin John Heller puts it, a ‘categorical prohibition’ on targeting might not be the solution, rather it would only lead to more incidences of flouting of IHL rules.

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The Truth under Siege: Does International Humanitarian Law Respond Adequately to Information Warfare?

Vishakha Choudhary |

The significant threat posed by disinformation campaigns in armed conflicts is not a novel concern. Its first prominent manifestation can be traced back to a fabricated telegram alleging the sabotage of the cruiser USS Maine, which led to the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. Arquilla and Ronfeldt, leading academicians on Cyber warfare, describe this phenomenon as ‘Netwar’, the process of “trying to disrupt, damage, or modify what a target population ‘knows’ or thinks it knows”.

As traditional methods of warfare invite increased scrutiny, resort to Netwar has become commonplace, fueled by the proliferation of media platforms. Fake news disseminated through Facebook was instrumental in inciting persecution of Rohingyas in Myanmar and information broadcasted over the radio fuelled hate crimes against Tutsis in Rwanda. Moreover, Russian cyber operations have reportedly led to a diplomatic crisis in the Gulf since 2017 and spurred an internal conflict in Ukraine. Pertinently, non-state actors have also turned to disinformation campaigns to advance their cause, as evinced by ISIS’s twitter operations. This post discusses the enforceability and fortitude of International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’) norms against this form of information warfare. Continue reading

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Calling Out Collective Punishments in the Context of the Kashmir Situation (Part II)

Read the first part of this post here

Ishita Chakrabarty |

India’s Violation of Customary IHL Principles

The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Acts (AFSPA) and the Public Safety Act introduced the obligation of the prosecutor to obtain prior sanction from the Union Government before initiating prosecution against the police and the paramilitary forces. Various charges have been leveled against officials, ranging from the commission of extra-judicial executions to deliberate torture, the killing of detainees in custody and reprisal killing of civilians. In some cases, the State Police even refused to register the charges. For instance, in 2017, the video of a civilian tied to an army jeep showed the Government’s animosity towards its own citizens. The civilian was being used as a human shield to avert incidents of stone pelting. Continue reading

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Calling Out Collective Punishments in the Context of the Kashmir Situation (Part I)



On 14 June 2018, the OHCHR released a report on the human rights violations committed by India in the Kashmir region. India reacted to the report by snubbing it as “fallacious, tendentious and motivated”. Despite identifying the human rights violations committed by India, the report contains no mention of the State’s constant transgression of International Humanitarian Law (‘IHL’) norms. In light of this omission, the present contribution intends to examine India’s violations of its IHL obligations in the context of the Kashmir situation with a special focus on State-inflicted collective punishments on the civilian population. Continue reading