Violence beyond the State. The International Law Approach

Michael Bothe


International law upholds a fundamental difference between the organised use of force by States and organised violence by non-State actors. Even though the use of force in international relations is prohibited by international law, the conduct of war is nevertheless regulated. Violence by non-State actors is only in certain respects restrained and only as an exception regulated by international law. Persons other than the members of the armed forces are in many respects engaged in the use of organized force. International law has reacted to this phenomenon not by abandoning the difference between organized interstate violence and non-State violence but by addressing the problem in a differentiated way which, on the one hand, has maintained the privileged position of the use of armed force by State organs, but on the other hand does not simply render non-State violence lawless.