Project

Harmonizing Standards in Armed Conflict

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Law Professor Sarah Cleveland and Visiting Law Professor Sir Daniel Bethlehem associated their project, Harmonizing Standards in Armed Conflict, with the Initiative in 2013. Their particular focus is to raise the standards of protection for both combatants and civilians in conflicts between states and insurgent armed groups, by applying rules developed for armed conflicts between states to all armed conflicts. The project draws upon an international group of experts in the law of armed conflict and human rights from the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, Australia, and the International Committee of the Red Cross.


The project is completing its final report, due at the end of 2015, with the conclusions of the project’s three-year review of the rules of armed conflict, as well as a proposed model declaration and legal framework that individual states or groups of states could adopt unilaterally to apply to all armed conflicts. In the coming year, the project will engage in conversation with interested states and other stakeholders regarding refinement and potential adoption of the model regime.

The authors are also exploring initiating a second phase of the Harmonization Project that would examine the role of human rights law in situations of armed conflict, as a potential joint partnership between the Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute, the University of Melbourne Law School, and the Australian Ministry of Defense.

Policy Goals

  • Raise the Standards of protection for both combatants and civilians in conflict between states and insurgent armed groups by applying rules developed for armed conflicts between states to all armed conflicts
  • Propose a model declaration and legal framework that individual states could adopt unilaterally to apply to all armed conflicts
  • Engage with interested states and other stakeholders regarding refinement and potential adoption of the model regime

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