Chapter 7: Rebel rulers and rules for rebels: Rebel governance and international law
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In non-international armed conflicts, armed groups often control and administer territory by exercising governmental functions traditionally reserved to the State. In political science, this phenomenon is referred to as rebel governance. Rebel governance consists in activities that range from the establishment of a police force or the settlement of disputes, to the provision of services such as healthcare and education. It often relies on the participation and support of civilians, or even on a rebel social contract. International law, for the most part, considers rebel governance as a threat to sovereignty, which is a fundamental attribute of States as the main subjects. Under international law, rebel governance is therefore often treated as hostile or criminal. A different attitude towards rebel governance has been displayed by the European Court of Human Rights, which has considered its possible benefits for the population. This chapter argues that the latter approach should be preferred in so far as it puts the needs of individuals before those of States.

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