NGOs and Nonstate Armed Actors: Improving Compliance with International Norms

Originally published in July 2011screen-shot-2017-01-29-at-00-11-43

Transnational nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have developed strategies to improve the diffusion of and general adherence to international norms among nonstate armed actors, with the goal of persuading armed actors to adapt their behavior accordingly.

The ICRC offers trainings in international humanitarian law to armed actors that explain their responsibilities for protecting civilians in military operations. Geneva Call provides education on the effects of antipersonnel landmines and supports armed actors in their efforts to clear mined areas, destroy stockpiles, and provide victim assistance.

The NGOs’ efforts in dealing with nonstate armed actors reveal limitations and problems but also offer new avenues for states and international organizations to engage with armed groups. With greater support from the international community, NGOs’ contributions could become more substantive and complement other ongoing efforts to change armed actors’ behavior.