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Part III Thematic Chapters, B Protection, 8 Engaging with drug lords: protecting civilians in Colombia, Mexico, and Honduras

Chiara Redaelli

From: The War Report: Armed Conflict in 2014

Edited By: Annyssa Bellal

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 23 November 2020

Subject(s):
Organized crime — Military assistance — Armed conflict, international — Armed conflict, non-international — Humanitarian intervention — Armed forces

This chapter analyses the specific challenges of dealing with criminal organizations from an international humanitarian law (IHL) and human rights perspective. First, it discusses how the criteria to determine the existence of a non-international armed conflict (NIAC) apply to organized crime. In broad terms, criminal groups are not considered party to a conflict, despite the fact that they might engage in acts of violence against the government. However, situations such as the one in Colombia, and arguably the violence in Mexico, would suggest that criminal groups operating in these countries could be considered party to a NIAC. Second, the chapter focuses on the specific challenges of dealing with organized crime. Heinous crimes against civilians demonstrate that criminal groups are unlikely to respect domestic and international law. The responses adopted so far at national and international level have proved utterly unfit to face the challenges posed by criminal organizations. The final part of the chapter thus suggests strategies to engage with criminal groups in order to improve the protection of civilians.

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