Violence as redress: armed groups, the right to rebellion and the resort to force for gross violations of human rights

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The resort to violence by non-state armed groups has often been criminalised under domestic law, treated as terrorism and delegitimised in international law. Yet, can international law remain silent in the face of peaceful protestors being shot in Myanmar, Colombia or Uganda with impunity? Despite the current absence of a non-international jus ad bellum, there are some moral and legal gaps that permit some scope for arguing that armed groups may have a right to resort to violence in the face of injustice. This article traces out the moral arguments in the just war theory, the international law position on jus ad bellum, as well as other avenues within this legal regime, such self-determination and the right to rebellion. The chapter evaluates what a possible jus ad bellum internum would look like, together with its boundaries. Such an analysis is not intended to romanticise armed groups. Instead, it argues that without a legal recourse to an effective remedy, violence is a last resort of oppressed people that should be recognised as legitimate in confronting gross violations of human rights. Taking a more humanised approached to why some groups turn to armed violence also encourages us to imbue values in such struggles in terms of compliance with international humanitarian law and to consider how such violence can be de-escalated and transformed into peace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationArmed groups and international law: in the shadowland of legality and illegality
EditorsKatharine Fortin, Ezequiel Heffes
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
ISBN (Print)9781800888333
Publication statusAccepted - 08 Sep 2023


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