Red Belt, Green Hunt, Gray Law: India’s Naxalite-Maoist Insurgency and the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict


The practical application of international humanitarian law to a potential non- international armed conflict is unclear in case law and other literature. This Comment fills this lacuna by clarifying existing legal standards, reconciling the inconsistent application of these standards, and honing the law of non-international armed conflict. Specifically, this Comment focuses on the two essential elements of a non-international armed conflict: (1) a nonstate actor that is sufficiently organized and (2) violence that is sufficiently intense. The meaning and scope of the “organization” and “intensity” criteria are developed on the basis of treaty law, case law, and case studies of Colombia and Mexico. This newly clarified legal standard is then applied to the extreme-left Naxalite-Maoist insurgency in India, a conflict waged with particular fervor since 2004. The insurgency’s organized and violent nature necessitates the conclusion that a non-international armed conflict exists between the Indian State and the Naxalites, triggering the application of international humanitarian law.

About the Author

Legal Fellow, Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. UCLA School of Law, J.D. 2015; UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, M.P.P. 2015; Duke University, A.B. 2011.

By uclalaw