Joining in wars

How states, international organizations and armed groups become parties to armed conflict.

Research event Recording
6 March 2024 — 5:00PM TO 6:30PM
Chatham House and Online

Event recording

Experts discuss when the provision of military assistance can make an actor party to an armed conflict.

It is becoming increasingly common for states to support other states in armed conflict. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, has prompted concerns around wider third-party involvement. Actors involved in conflict rely on the provision of military, financial, and intelligence assistance from other states, international organizations, and non-state actors.

This raises the important question of when and under what circumstances states and armed groups providing assistance during armed conflicts become party to that conflict. Being party to an armed conflict raises significant legal and political implications. It is therefore crucial to identify when providing assistance crosses the line into co-party status, so that actors can be aware of their ensuing obligations.

This discussion explores when the provision of military assistance can make an actor party to an armed conflict, and the political and legal implications of this status.

  • What significance is there to becoming a co-party to an armed conflict?
  • How does the increasing diversity of armed conflict make determining party status more complex?
  • What obligations are imposed on actors with co-party status that differ from merely providing assistance?
  • What are the particular implications of party status for states acting in coalition with others?
  • What assistance can states, international organisations, and armed actors provide to parties involved in armed conflict without crossing the threshold of party status themselves?

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