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The Objective Qualification of Non-International Armed Conflicts: A Colombian Case Study

Authors:

Guillermo Otálora Lozano,

Practicing Attorney, CO
About Guillermo
Guillermo Otálora Lozano, LL.B (Los Andes, Bogotá). The opinions in this paper are expressed in the author’s personal capacity, and in no way reflect or compromise the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia.
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Sebastián Machado

Ministry of Foreign Affairs, CO
About Sebastián
Sebastián Machado, LL.B (Los Andes, Bogotá), LL.M (Cantab), is Head of the Advisory Section of the International Legal Affairs Department. The opinions in this paper are expressed in the author’s personal capacity, and in no way reflect or compromise the position of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Colombia.
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Abstract

Armed conflict has raged in Colombia since at least the 1960’s, involving governmental forces, rebel groups, and paramilitary forces. The Uribe government (2002-2010) declared that Colombia was not in a ‘state of armed conflict’ but was rather facing a ‘terrorist threat’. This declaration was done in fear of conferring a political status to the armed groups, and most particularly, in fear that a recognition of armed conflict would open the possibility of endowing the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) with a ‘belligerency status’. From a legal point of view, the government’s fears were unfounded, since contemporary international humanitarian law does not require a formal for a situation to qualify as armed conflict. During the Uribe administration, efforts were made by the Ministry of Defense to identify operational rules of engagement with precision, violations of international humanitarian law were publicly denounced, and the apex courts adjudicated on issues of international humanitarian law. This seemingly paradoxical situation illustrates the importance of the objective definition of armed conflict, which has been a defining characteristic of international humanitarian law since 1949.

How to Cite: Otálora Lozano, G. and Machado, S., 2012. The Objective Qualification of Non-International Armed Conflicts: A Colombian Case Study. Amsterdam Law Forum, 4(1), pp.58–77. DOI: http://doi.org/10.37974/ALF.210
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Published on 01 Dec 2012.
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