Every society has some form of structure in place that determines those behaviours and activities that are accepted, and those that are disapproved of and potentially subject to punishment. For the more than 60 million people living under non-State armed groups’ (NSAGs) exclusive control, this creates obvious tensions, where both certainties and uncertainties co-exist. This is because NSAGs are sometimes able to offer a degree of stability, subjecting individuals to their own laws and regulations, while at the same time their own members are being subjected to the rules of the de jure State, a legal framework that (almost undisputedly) will criminalize their actions. At the same time, in non-international armed conflicts, some international humanitarian law (IHL) provisions require that these entities (and States) undertake normative efforts to ensure they are respected. By examining the possible exercise of NSAGs’ law-making and law-adapting activities, this chapter addresses such tension by focusing on the prohibition of arbitrary deprivation of liberty in IHL.
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