Jessica S. Burniske, Naz K. Modirzadeh & Dustin A. Lewis, Armed Non-State Actors and International Human Rights Law: An Analysis of the Practice of the U.N. Security Council and U.N. General Assembly (Harvard Law Sch. Program on Int’l Law & Armed Conflict, June 29, 2017).
Abstract: Several significant legal, policy, and practical concerns are at issue in whether armed non-state actors (ANSAs) will ultimately be recognized—by all relevant institutions and actors—as bearing human-rights obligations in general under international law in a manner previously reserved primarily for states. In considering this set of issues, it is important to clarify what obligations, if any, the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly recognize ANSAs as possessing under IHRL. This June 2017 Briefing Report with Annexes provides an overview of research conducted by HLS PILAC concerning modalities in which the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly have addressed ANSAs with respect to human rights; ways in which these U.N. principal organs have distinguished between different types of ANSAs; and the consequences of these organs possibly establishing responsibility of ANSAs in relation to the protection and fulfillment—or, at least, the non-abuse—of human rights. While it is incontrovertible that the U.N. Security Council and the U.N. General Assembly have recognized, at a minimum, that the conduct of at least some ANSAs can amount to violations or abuses of human rights, it is not currently possible to state that either of these principal U.N. organs has taken sufficient steps to formally endow ANSAs with human-rights obligations in general under international law.