3.3.1. Armed conflict (international or internal)

Last update: November 2021

A definition of an international or an internal armed conflict within the meaning of Article 15(c) QD is not provided by the QD itself. In Diakité, the CJEU interprets the concept of ‘internal armed conflict’ under Article 15(c) QD and concludes that it must be given an interpretation, which is autonomous from international humanitarian law.

[…] internal armed conflict exists, for the purposes of applying that provision, if a State’s armed forces confront one or more armed groups or if two or more armed groups confront each other. It is not necessary for that conflict to be categorised as ‘armed conflict not of an international character’ under international humanitarian law;
CJEU, Diakité, para.35

In Diakité, the CJEU sets a low threshold to assess whether an armed conflict is taking place, noting that,

[…] nor is it necessary to carry out, in addition to an appraisal of the level of violence present in the territory concerned, a separate assessment of the intensity of the armed confrontations, the level of organisation of the armed forces involved or the duration of the conflict
CJEU, Diakité, para.35

Furthermore, in the context of Article 15(c) QD, differentiation between ‘international’ or ‘internal’ armed conflict is not necessary, as the provision is equally applicable in situations of international and internal armed conflict. 

It should also be noted that an armed conflict can be taking place only in parts of the territory.

Over the summer months of 2021, the Taliban’s offensive advanced rapidly and resulted in them taking over almost all of the country. ANSF personnel often withdrew from positions without engaging in confrontations. In their statements following the takeover of Kabul in August 2021, the Taliban declared the war to be over [Security September 2021, 1.1.1]. However, in some areas resistance armed groups were organised and armed confrontations took place [Security September 2021, 1.4.1]. ISKP also continues to be active in the country [Security September 2021, 1.3.5].