Homelands versus Minelands: Why Do Armed Groups Commit to the Laws of War?

Tanisha M. Fazal, Margarita Konaev

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6 Scopus citations


Why do some armed groups commit to abide by the laws of war governing belligerent conduct during armed conflict, while others do not? We examine why only half the armed groups approached by the nongovernmental organization Geneva Call have signed a public Deed of Commitment banning the use of antipersonnel land mines. In contrast to recent studies that have tended to focus on the legitimacy concerns of armed groups, we argue that political objectives combine with military utility calculations to shape the behavior of armed groups in the realm of international humanitarian law. Utilizing original data on the ninety armed groups engaged by Geneva Call since 2000, we find that strong secessionist groups are most likely to sign the Deed of Commitment. Our findings have important implications for theories of international law, the study of civil wars, and on the ground efforts to mitigate the human costs of war.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-168
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Global Security Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 1 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Studies Association.


  • armed nonstate actors
  • civil wars
  • civilian casualties
  • international law
  • international treaties
  • nongovernmental organizations


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