Armed Conflict

  1. definition
  2. examples and/or illustrations
  3. other useful sources
  4. bibliography



“A political conflict in which armed combat involves the armed forces of at least one state (or one or more armed factions seeking to gain control of all or part of the state), and in which at least 1,000 people have been killed by the fighting during the course of the conflict.”

Project Ploughshares. (n.d.). Armed Conflict. Retrieved from http://ploughshares.ca/programs/armed-conflict/defining-armed-conflict/ (Accessed May 30, 2013).

“An armed conflict is a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year. Comment: ‘Armed conflict’ is also referred to as ‘state-based conflict’, as opposed to ‘non-state conflict’, in which none of the warring parties is a government.”

Uppsala Conflict Data Program. (n.d.). Armed conflict definition. Retrieved from http://www.pcr.uu.se/research/ucdp/definitions/ (Accessed May 30, 2013).

““All cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more…[States], even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.”

Art. 2, Geneva Conventions I-IV, 1949 in International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2011). Glossary of Migration, 2nd Edition. Retrieved from http://publications.iom.int/bookstore/free/Glossary%202nd%20ed%20web.pdf (Accessed June 3, 2013).

“An armed conflict exists whenever there is a resort to armed force between States or protracted armed violence between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups within a state.”

Prosecutor v. Dusko Tadic, No. IT-94-1-AR 72, International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia Appeals Chamber in International Organization for Migration (IOM). (2011). Glossary of Migration, 2nd Edition. Retrieved from http://publications.iom.int/bookstore/free/Glossary%202nd%20ed%20web.pdf (Accessed June 3, 2013).


Examples and/or Illustrations

“There has been much controversy in the past over the relationship between violence, peace and security, but one view of what constitutes an armed conflict—with the elements of battle, political objectives and government participation at its core—has until recently dominated in both academic and policy circles” (emphasis added, Brzoska, 2007).

“[R]efugees are protected by the principles and provisions of International Humanitarian Law applying to the protection of civilians or civilian population in armed conflict and in peace time by the more stringent provisions of International Law applicable generally to the protection of individual human rights.” (emphasis added, UNHCR, 1982). 


Other Useful Sources

Amnesty International. (n.d.). Armed Conflict. Retrieved from: http://www.amnesty.org/en/armed-conflict (Accessed May 30, 2013).

Bellamy, A.J. and Williams, P.D. (2012). On the limits of moral hazard: The ‘responsibility to protect’, armed conflict and mass atrocities. European Journal of International Relations, 18(3), 539-571.

Buhaug, H., Gleditsch, N.P., and Theisen, O.M. (2009). Implications of Climate Change for Armed Conflict. In Mearns, R., and Norton, A. (Eds.). Social dimensions of climate change: equity and vulnerability in a warming world, (75-101). World Bank Publications. Retrieved from http://issuu.com/world.bank.publications/docs/9780821378878 (Accessed June 3, 2013).

Eck, K. (2009). From Armed Conflict to War: Ethnic Mobilization and Conflict Intensification. International Studies Quarterly, 53(2), 369-388.

Goldstein, J.S. (2011). Winning the War on War: The Decline of Armed Conflict Worldwide. New York: Penguin Group.

Human Security Report Project. (n.d.). Human Security Report 2005-2012. Retrieved from http://www.hsrgroup.org/human-security-reports/human-security-report.aspx (Accessed on June 3, 2013).

International Committee of the Red Cross. (2008, March). How is the Term “Armed Conflict” Defined in International Humanitarian Law? Retrieved from http://www.refworld.org/docid/47e24eda2.html (Accessed May 31, 2013).  

Jacques, M. (2012). Armed Conflict and Displacement: The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons under International Humanitarian Law. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Lambert, H. and Farrell, T. (2010). The Changing Character of Armed Conflict and the Implications for Refugee Protection Jurisprudence. International Journal of Refugee Law, 22(2), 237-273.

Leatherman, J.L. (2011). Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict.  Cambridge, UK: Polity.

Margulies, P. (2011). The Fog of War Reform: Change and Structure in the Law of Armed Conflict after September 11. Roger Williams University Legal Studies Paper, 11. Retrieved from http://ssrn.com/abstract=1921446 (Accessed June 3, 2013).

Melander, E., Öberg, M., and Hall, J. (2009). Are ‘New Wars’ More Atrocious? Battle Severity, Civilians Killed and Forced Migration Before and After the End of the Cold War. European Journal of International Relations, 15(3), 505-536.

O’Connell, M.E. (2008). Defining Armed Conflict. Journal of Conflict Security Law, 13, 393-400

Ramji-Nogales, J. (2011). Questioning Hierarchies of Harm: Women, Forced Migration and International Criminal Law. International Criminal Law Review, 11(3), 463-476.

Regehr, E. (2011). Armed Conflict: Trends and Drivers. Vancouver: The Simons Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.thesimonsfoundation.ca/resources/armed-conflict-trends-and-drivers (Accessed June 3, 2013).

Stewart, J.G. (2003). Towards a Single Definition of Armed Conflict in International Humanitarian Law: A Critique of Internationalized Armed Conflict. International Review of the Red Cross, 850, 313-350.

Themnér, L. and Wallensteen, P. (2011). Armed conflict, 1946-2010. Journal of Peace Research, 48(4), 525-536.

Uppsala Conflict Data Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.pcr.uu.se/research.ucdp/database (Accessed June 3, 2013). 



Brzoska, M. (2007). Appendix 2C: Collective violence beyond the standard definition of armed conflict. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Yearbook, 94-106.

UNHCR. (1982, October 4). Note on the Protection of Refugees in Armed Conflict Situations. EC/SCP/25. Retrieved from http://www.unhcr.org/3ae68cbc18.html (Accessed on June 3, 2013). 


Other related words (may be concepts)

  • International Humanitarian Law
  • Law of Armed Conflict
  • War