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Part VIII Accountability for Displacement and Refugee Rights Violations, Ch.63 The Responsibility of Armed Groups Concerning Displacement

Ben Saul

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Refugee Law

Edited By: Cathryn Costello, Michelle Foster, Jane McAdam

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 28 February 2024

Asylum — Non-refoulement — Responsibility of non-state actors — International criminal law — Armed conflict

This chapter studies the responsibility of armed groups concerning displacement. Displacement frequently occurs in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs), whether as an incidental effect of actual or impending hostilities, a deliberate tactic of warfare, or as a preventive, protective measure to evacuate civilians at risk. In contrast to States parties to a NIAC, however, non-State armed groups (NSAGs) involved in conflict bear far fewer international obligations concerning protection from, during, and after displacement. The chapter charts how most of the relevant international law imposes obligations principally on States. Under the law of State responsibility, a State is only responsible for a NSAG’s conduct in a limited range of situations. Even where State responsibility formally exists, it will often be an ineffective means of accountability in practice, and NSAGs themselves may not separately bear direct responsibility for their conduct. A critical, second issue the chapter discusses, therefore, is the extent to which international law directly binds NSAGs and holds them responsible for their breaches. By disaggregating the applicable specialized branches of law, it shows that NSAGs are clearly bound by international humanitarian law as groups, while international criminal law imposes individual criminal liability on their members.

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