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

21 Pages Posted: 14 Jan 2016 Last revised: 5 Feb 2017

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Date Written: January 14, 2016


The grounds of attribution of conduct as codified in the International Law Commission’s (‘ILC’) Articles on State Responsibility for Internationally Wrongful Acts (‘ARSIWA’)fail to capture different dimensions of the use of force by non-state actors. The conflicts in Syria, Ukraine or Yemen demonstrate the difficulty in applying the conceptual architecture of the ARSIWA to complex situations, such as those involving multiple actors and varying degrees of involvement in the wrongful acts. This article proposes to redraw the boundaries between the concepts of a de facto organ of a state, the effective/overall control thresholds for the attribution of non-state actors’ conduct, and complicity as an additional ground of attribution of conduct in international law.

Keywords: use of force; attribution; state responsibility; non-state actors; complicity

Suggested Citation

Lanovoy, Vladyslav, The Use of Force by Non-State Actors and the Limits of Attribution of Conduct (January 14, 2016). European Society of International Law (ESIL) 2015 Research Forum (Florence), Available at SSRN: or

Vladyslav Lanovoy (Contact Author)

Université Laval ( email )

Pavillon Charles-De Koninck
1030, avenue des Sciences
Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6


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