Thursday, August 2, 2007

Recognition of Insurgency and Belligerency

When insurrection or civil war breaks out in any State, third States generally will not interfere in the domestic affairs.

The recognition of belligerency is merely an assertion of the fact that the rebels are in a position to exercise authority over the territory in their possession. The recognition does not give cause for any offence to the State concerned. And according this recognition is not a violation of neutrality either.

What is the meaning of the term ‘insurgency’? Insurgency means rebellion, revolt, or mutiny by a section of the citizenry of a State against the established government. It denotes a sustained armed struggle carried out by dissident forces in a State against the established order. It is an internal situation wherein dissident forces resort to the use of violence for the replacement of an existing socio-political order or in order to assert their political rights or overthrowing an existing government. This struggle is carried out for the purpose of obtaining power or self-rule.

International law treats insurgencies and civil wars as internal matters falling within the domestic jurisdiction of the state concerned and it is up to the municipal law to deal with it. Generally, as a rule, States do not interfere in the internal affairs of other States, and especially so when civil strife or condition of insurgency exists within a State. However, when rebels or insurgents come to occupy and effectively control a substantial part of the State territory, it may become necessary for the recognizing States to take cognizance of the state of insurgency. A civil war may not reach a stage to call for the recognition of a formal condition of belligerency by outside powers. The rebel forces may not be acting under an organized command structure and may not be following the laws of war. In such circumstances, outside States may grant the rebels only a form of recognition, viz. as insurgents and refrain from treating them as law-breakers and recognize their de facto authority in the territory under their occupation. They maintain such relations with the insurgents as may be necessary for the protection of their nationals, commerce and for such other purposes connected with hostilities. Belligerency is a formal status involving rights and duties.

Some of the conditions essential for the recognition of insurgency may be enumerated as under:
a) The insurgents must have control over a considerable part of the territory;
b) A majority of the people inhabiting the territory must lend support to the rebels out of their own free will and not as a result of coercive measures adopted by the insurgents;
c) The insurgents must be capable and willing to carry out international obligations imposed upon them.

If the rebels are accorded the status of belligerents, they become subjects of international law and can be held responsible for their acts. Further, the rules governing hostilities become applicable to both the sides.
The concepts of insurgency and belligerency are quite vague and are extremely subjective in that a state or states for political considerations may choose to accord recognition to a rebel group. The issue has gained considerable importance in the years following the Second World War for the colonies resorted to struggle for liberation and independence, many a times by armed means.


Sowmya said...

Very informative and nicely written\
keep it up .

Pablo said...

It is far more fruitful for me to read this blog than to read my professor's materials that merely tangle my billions of brain nerves.

Anonymous said...

only if there was a like button to Pablo's comment

Ahmad said...


Fida Aifiya said...

very informative. thank you.