armed conflict

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Armed conflicts are contextualized into two different categories: international armed conflicts and domestic armed conflicts. International armed conflicts occur when there is conflict between two or more states. Domestic armed conflicts occur when there is conflict between a state and one or more non-state armed groups or among non-state armed groups. In international criminal law, prosecution for a war crime requires the existence of an armed conflict. Some war crimes require an international armed conflict, while others require only a domestic armed conflict.

Domestic armed conflicts do not include "situations of internal disturbances and tensions, such as riots, isolated and sporadic acts of violence or other acts of a similar nature." They do include "armed conflicts that take place in the territory of a State when there is protracted armed conflict between governmental authorities and organized armed groups or between such groups."

See e.g., Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S 507 (2004)

Further ReadingMichigan Journal of International Law Article on conflict recognition.

[Last updated in June of 2022 by the Wex Definitions Team]