EJIL: Debate!

The Use of Force by Non-State Actors and the Limits of Attribution of Conduct


The grounds of attribution of conduct as codified by the International Law Commission in the Articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts fail to capture different dimensions of the use of force by non-state actors. The conflicts in Syria, Ukraine and Yemen demonstrate the difficulty in applying the classical attribution framework to complex situations with multiple actors and varying degrees of state involvement in the internationally wrongful acts. This article proposes to redraw the boundaries between the concepts of a de facto organ of a state, the control thresholds for the attribution of non-state actors’ conduct and complicity as an additional ground of attribution of conduct in international law.