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Social Sciences

The Impact of the Law of Armed Conflict on General International Law

1 August 2016 - 31 July 2017

PI/s in Exeter: Professor Kubo Mačák

Research partners: Co-investigator: Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (University of Reading)

Funding awarded: £ 4,684

Sponsor(s): College of Social Sciences and International Studies

About the research

As one of the oldest substantive areas of international law, the law of armed conflict (LOAC) has played an important part in the development of general international law principles that now apply equally in other areas. For example, the evolution of the rules on State responsibility for the conduct of individuals can in part be traced to the development of rules attributing responsibility for violations of LOAC perpetrated by armed groups.

However, this strong relationship between LOAC and general international law has recently come under strain as a result of more general concerns over the ‘fragmentation’ of international law, whereby substantive areas of law, including LOAC, have become divorced from general international law. It has been suggested, for example, that it is time to move away from traditional approaches to international law-making in order to ensure that LOAC remains effective at regulating contemporary conflicts. This is illustrated by claims that customary rules of LOAC, in contrast to customary international law more generally, should take account of the practice not only of States but also armed groups.

In light of these conflicting perspectives, an assessment of the relationship between LOAC and general international law is both apposite and necessary. Accordingly, the aim of this project is to assess the impact of the law of armed conflict on the development of general international law. The project is run jointly by Dr Kubo Mačák (University of Exeter) and Dr Lawrence Hill-Cawthorne (University of Reading).

Project activities

On 22-23 September 2016, the project was launched at an expert roundtable held at Reed Hall at the University of Exeter. The programme of the roundtable and a report summarising the presentations and the discussion at the roundtable are available for download at the links below

This page will be updated in due course with details about the publication of project outputs.