All armed groups capture or detain individuals in a variety of situations, but it is unclear what legal obligations, if any, non-state groups have when dealing with detainees. Bruce Oswald explores this question and the challenge of getting non-state groups to respect basic detention standards.

Summary

All armed groups capture or detain individuals in a variety of situations, but it is unclear what legal obligations non-state armed groups have when dealing with detainees. The international community should consider: (1) studying the extent to which armed non-state actors are able to adhere to extant international humanitarian law and international human rights law; (2) and develop generic detention principles and guidelines that are specifically relevant for non-state armed groups.

About This Brief

This Peace Brief, based on the author’s research on armed groups in Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and other conflict zones, considers some issues relevant to the development of principles and guidelines governing the treatment of detainees taken by armed groups. Bruce ‘Ossie’ Oswald is an associate professor of law at Melbourne Law School and a Jennings Randolph senior fellow (2012-2013). Ossie’s interest in armed groups stems from his military service in places such as Rwanda, East Timor, Iraq, and Afghanistan. His academic research is focused on international humanitarian law, international human rights law, and post-conflict state-building. Ossie would like to thank Pamela Aall, Vivienne O’Connor and Beth Wellington for their very helpful comments on earlier drafts of this Brief. Ossie is also grateful to Maria Glenna for her research assistance.

Related Publications

Modi, Putin and Xi Join the SCO Summit Amid Turbulent Times

Modi, Putin and Xi Join the SCO Summit Amid Turbulent Times

Thursday, September 22, 2022

By: Cordelia Buchanan Ponczek;  Mary Glantz, Ph.D.;  Carla Freeman, Ph.D.;  Vikram J. Singh

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) resumed in-person summits last week in the wake of the COVID pandemic and at a moment of unprecedent change and challenge. Member states Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are at war over their border. So are dialogue partner states Armenia and Azerbaijan. All SCO members are dealing with the economic impact of the Russian war in Ukraine as well as climate disruptions like the floods overwhelming Pakistan. Mistrust between India and Pakistan, full members since 2017, make cooperation difficult on the SCO’s original core mission of counterterrorism. And India and China, which were building toward the “Wuhan spirit” of cooperation when India joined in 2017, are hardly on speaking terms despite recent progress toward deescalating a friction point along their disputed Line of Actual Control.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

India and Pakistan at 75: Prospects for the Future

India and Pakistan at 75: Prospects for the Future

Monday, August 15, 2022

By: Ambassador Jalil Abbas Jilani;  Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi;  Ambassador Nirupama Rao;  Ambassador Arun Singh

India and Pakistan, the two nuclear-armed giants of South Asia, each mark the 75th anniversary of their independence this week. In this article, USIP interviews Jalil Abbas Jilani and Maleeha Lodhi, former ambassadors of Pakistan to the United States, and Nirupama Rao and Arun Singh, former ambassadors of India to the United States, to get their perspectives on the main foreign policy and security challenges facing their respective countries, options for rapprochement, and the role of the United States and other global powers in supporting peace and stability in the region.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Conflict Analysis & PreventionGlobal Policy

What You Need to Know About the I2U2

What You Need to Know About the I2U2

Thursday, July 28, 2022

By: Daniel Markey, Ph.D.;  Ambassador Hesham Youssef

As part of his visit earlier this month to the Middle East, President Biden participated in the first leaders summit of a new grouping made up of Israel, India, the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Known as the I2U2, the countries’ foreign ministers formed the bloc in the fall of 2021 to deepen technological and private sector collaboration in the region and tackle transnational challenges in six focus areas: water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security. Beyond the announcement of a food security initiative and a hybrid renewable generation facility for India, little was revealed about what’s next for I2U2.

Type: Analysis and Commentary

Global Policy

The Latest on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia: 4 Things You Need to Know

The Latest on Strategic Stability in Southern Asia: 4 Things You Need to Know

Friday, June 10, 2022

By: Tamanna Salikuddin;  Vikram J. Singh

While the world focuses on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, there's another hotspot — China, India and Pakistan — where three nuclear-armed states share contested borders. In this video, USIP’s Tamanna Salikuddin and Vikram J. Singh discuss how to enhance stability in the region, the Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, the prospects of nuclear talks in Southern Asia, and the impacts of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Type: Blog

Global Policy

View All Publications