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Published online by Cambridge University Press:  31 January 2007

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Generally speaking, armed opposition groups are not able to win a direct confrontation with the regular armed forces because they lack firepower but they can win small, local engagements, keep large numbers of regular forces tied up and, perhaps, prevent control by the armed forces of the whole territory. Such operations place a severe strain on the rule of law. In this article, it is their impact on the law of war that is examined, but it will be done from the perspective of the regular armed forces. In this respect, it should be noted that the law has been laid down by just those powerful states and it may be that insufficient provision is made in the law for that type of combat. If it is to stand any hope of being complied with, the law must be realistic. That applies with greater force to unequal combat.

© 2004 T. M. C. Asser Instituut, The Hague, The Netherlands

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