The Laws of War

List of Customary Rules of International Humanitarian Law

This list is based on the conclusions set out in Volume I of the study on customary international humanitarian law. As the study did not seek to determine the customary nature of each treaty rule of international humanitarian law, it does not necessarily follow the structure of existing treaties. The scope of application of the rules is indicated in square brackets. The abbreviation IAC refers to customary rules applicable in international armed conflicts and the abbreviation NIAC to customary rules applicable in non-international armed conflicts. In the latter case, some rules are indicated as being “arguably” applicable because practice generally pointed in that direction but was less extensive.

The Principle of Distinction

Distinction between Civilians and Combatants

Rule 1.The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 2. Acts or threats of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 3. All members of the armed forces of a party to the conflict are combatants, except medical and religious personnel. [IAC]

Rule 4. The armed forces of a party to the conflict consist of all organized armed forces, groups and units which are under a command responsible to that party for the conduct of its subordinates. [IAC]

Rule 5. Civilians are persons who are not members of the armed forces. The civilian population comprises all persons who are civilians. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 6. Civilians are protected against attack, unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities. [IAC/NIAC]

Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives

Rule 7. The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. Attacks may only be directed against military objectives. Attacks must not be directed against civilian objects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 8. In so far as objects are concerned, military objectives are limited to those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose partial or total destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 9. Civilian objects are all objects that are not military objectives. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 10. Civilian objects are protected against attack, unless and for such time as they are military objectives. [IAC/NIAC]

Indiscriminate Attacks

Rule 11. Indiscriminate attacks are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 12. Indiscriminate attacks are those:

(a) which are not directed at a specific military objective;
(b) which employ a method or means of combat which cannot be directed at a specific military objective; or
(c) which employ a method or means of combat the effects of which cannot be limited as required by international humanitarian law;
and consequently, in each such case, are of a nature to strike military objectives and civilians or civilian objects without distinction. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 13. Attacks by bombardment by any method or means which treats as a single military objective a number of clearly separated and distinct military objectives located in a city, town, village or other area containing a similar concentration of civilians or civilian objects are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Proportionality in Attack

Rule 14. Launching an attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated, is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Precautions in Attack

Rule 15. In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. All feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 16. Each party to the conflict must do everything feasible to verify that targets are military objectives. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 17. Each party to the conflict must take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of warfare with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 18. Each party to the conflict must do everything feasible to assess whether the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 19. Each party to the conflict must do everything feasible to cancel or suspend an attack if it becomes apparent that the target is not a military objective or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 20. Each party to the conflict must give effective advance warning of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 21. When a choice is possible between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected must be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Precautions against the Effects of Attacks


Rule 22. The parties to the conflict must take all feasible precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects under their control against the effects of attacks. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 23. Each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Rule 24. Each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Specifically Protected Persons and Objects

Medical and Religious Personnel and Objects

Rule 25. Medical personnel exclusively assigned to medical duties must be respected and protected in all circumstances. They lose their protection if they commit, outside their humanitarian function, acts harmful to the enemy. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 26. Punishing a person for performing medical duties compatible with medical ethics or compelling a person engaged in medical activities to perform acts contrary to medical ethics is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 27. Religious personnel exclusively assigned to religious duties must be respected and protected in all circumstances. They lose their protection if they commit, outside their humanitarian function, acts harmful to the enemy. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 28. Medical units exclusively assigned to medical purposes must be respected and protected in all circumstances. They lose their protection if they are being used, outside their humanitarian function, to commit acts harmful to the enemy. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 29. Medical transports assigned exclusively to medical transportation must be respected and protected in all circumstances. They lose their protection if they are being used, outside their humanitarian function, to commit acts
harmful to the enemy. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 30. Attacks directed against medical and religious personnel and objects displaying the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Humanitarian Relief Personnel and Objects

Rule 31. Humanitarian relief personnel must be respected and protected. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 32. Objects used for humanitarian relief operations must be respected and protected. [IAC/NIAC]

Personnel and Objects Involved in a Peacekeeping Mission

Rule 33. Directing an attack against personnel and objects involved in a peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians and civilian objects
under international humanitarian law, is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Journalists

Rule 34. Civilian journalists engaged in professional missions in areas of armed conflict must be respected and protected as long as they are not taking a direct part in hostilities. [IAC/NIAC]

Protected Zones

Rule 35. Directing an attack against a zone established to shelter the wounded, the sick and civilians from the effects of hostilities is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]
Rule 36. Directing an attack against a demilitarized zone agreed upon between
the parties to the conflict is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 37. Directing an attack against a non-defended locality is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Cultural Property

Rule 38. Each party to the conflict must respect cultural property:
A. Special care must be taken in military operations to avoid damage to buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, education or charitable purposes and historic monuments unless they are military objectives.
B. Property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people must not be the object of attack unless imperatively required by military necessity. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 39. The use of property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people for purposes which are likely to expose it to destruction or damage is prohibited, unless imperatively required by military necessity. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 40. Each party to the conflict must protect cultural property:
A. All seizure of or destruction or wilful damage done to institutions dedicated to religion, charity, education, the arts and sciences, historic monuments and works of art and science is prohibited.
B. Any form of theft, pillage or misappropriation of, and any acts of vandalism directed against, property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 41. The occupying power must prevent the illicit export of cultural property from occupied territory and must return illicitly exported property to the competent authorities of the occupied territory. [IAC]

Works and Installations Containing Dangerous Forces

Rule 42. Particular care must be taken if works and installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, and other installations located at or in their vicinity are attacked, in order
to avoid the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population. [IAC/NIAC]

The Natural Environment

Rule 43. The general principles on the conduct of hostilities apply to the natural environment:
A. No part of the natural environment may be attacked, unless it is a military objective.
B. Destruction of any part of the natural environment is prohibited, unless required by imperative military necessity.
C. Launching an attack against a military objective which may be expected to cause incidental damage to the environment which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 44. Methods and means of warfare must be employed with due regard to the protection and preservation of the natural environment. In the conduct of military operations, all feasible precautions must be taken to avoid, and in any
event to minimize, incidental damage to the environment. Lack of scientific certainty as to the effects on the environment of certain military operations does not absolve a party to the conflict from taking such precautions. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Rule 45. The use of methods or means of warfare that are intended, or may be expected, to cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment is prohibited. Destruction of the natural environment may not be used as a weapon. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Specific Methods of Warfare

Denial of Quarter

Rule 46. Ordering that no quarter will be given, threatening an adversary therewith or conducting hostilities on this basis is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 47. Attacking persons who are recognized as hors de combat is prohibited.
A person hors de combat is:
(a) anyone who is in the power of an adverse party;
(b) anyone who is defenceless because of unconsciousness, shipwreck, wounds or sickness; or
(c) anyone who clearly expresses an intention to surrender; provided he or she abstains from any hostile act and does not attempt to escape. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 48. Making persons parachuting from an aircraft in distress the object of attack during their descent is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Destruction and Seizure of Property

Rule 49. The parties to the conflict may seize military equipment belonging to an adverse party as war booty. [IAC]

Rule 50. The destruction or seizure of the property of an adversary is prohibited, unless required by imperative military necessity. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 51. In occupied territory:
(a) movable public property that can be used for military operations may be confiscated;
(b) immovable public property must be administered according to the rule of usufruct; and
(c) private property must be respected and may not be confiscated;
except where destruction or seizure of such property is required by imperative military necessity. [IAC]

Rule 52. Pillage is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Starvation and Access to Humanitarian Relief

Rule 53. The use of starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 54. Attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 55. The parties to the conflict must allow and facilitate rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for civilians in need, which is impartial in character and conducted without any adverse distinction, subject to their right
of control. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 56. The parties to the conflict must ensure the freedom of movement of authorized humanitarian relief personnel essential to the exercise of their functions. Only in case of imperative military necessity may their movements be temporarily restricted. [IAC/NIAC]

Deception

Rule 57. Ruses of war are not prohibited as long as they do not infringe a rule of international humanitarian law. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 58. The improper use of the white flag of truce is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 59. The improper use of the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 60. The use of the United Nations emblem and uniform is prohibited, except as authorized by the organization. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 61. The improper use of other internationally recognized emblems is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 62. Improper use of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of the adversary is prohibited. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Rule 63. Use of the flags or military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other States not party to the conflict is prohibited. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Rule 64. Concluding an agreement to suspend combat with the intention of attacking by surprise the enemy relying on that agreement is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 65. Killing, injuring or capturing an adversary by resort to perfidy is prohibited.
[IAC/NIAC]

Communication with the Enemy

Rule 66. Commanders may enter into non-hostile contact through any means of communication. Such contact must be based on good faith. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 67. Parlementaires are inviolable. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 68. Commanders may take the necessary precautions to prevent the presence of a parlementaire from being prejudicial. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 69. Parlementaires taking advantage of their privileged position to commit an act contrary to international law and detrimental to the adversary lose their inviolability. [IAC/NIAC]

Weapons

General Principles on the Use of Weapons

Rule 70. The use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 71. The use of weapons which are by nature indiscriminate is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Poison

Rule 72. The use of poison or poisoned weapons is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Biological Weapons

Rule 73. The use of biological weapons is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Chemical Weapons

Rule 74. The use of chemical weapons is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 75. The use of riot-control agents as a method of warfare is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 76. The use of herbicides as a method of warfare is prohibited if they:
(a) are of a nature to be prohibited chemical weapons;
(b) are of a nature to be prohibited biological weapons;
(c) are aimed at vegetation that is not a military objective;
(d) would cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which may be expected to be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated; or
(e) would cause widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment. [IAC/NIAC]

Expanding Bullets

Rule 77. The use of bullets which expand or flatten easily in the human body is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Exploding Bullets

Rule 78. The anti-personnel use of bullets which explode within the human body is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Weapons Primarily Injuring by Non-detectable Fragments

Rule 79. The use of weapons the primary effect of which is to injure by fragments which are not detectable by X-rays in the human body is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Booby-traps

Rule 80. The use of booby-traps which are in any way attached to or associated with objects or persons entitled to special protection under international humanitarian law or with objects that are likely to attract civilians is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Landmines

Rule 81. When landmines are used, particular care must be taken to minimize their indiscriminate effects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 82. A party to the conflict using landmines must record their placement, as far as possible. [IAC/arguably NIAC]

Rule 83. At the end of active hostilities, a party to the conflict which has used landmines must remove or otherwise render them harmless to civilians, or facilitate their removal. [IAC/NIAC]

Incendiary Weapons

Rule 84. If incendiary weapons are used, particular care must be taken to avoid, and in any event to minimize, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 85. The anti-personnel use of incendiary weapons is prohibited, unless it is not feasible to use a less harmful weapon to render a person hors de combat. [IAC/NIAC]

Blinding Laser Weapons

Rule 86. The use of laser weapons that are specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Treatment of Civilians and Persons Hors de Combat

Fundamental Guarantees

Rule 87. Civilians and persons hors de combat must be treated humanely. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 88. Adverse distinction in the application of international humanitarian law based on race, colour, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 89. Murder is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 90. Torture, cruel or inhuman treatment and outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment, are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 91. Corporal punishment is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 92. Mutilation, medical or scientific experiments or any other medical procedure not indicated by the state of health of the person concerned and not consistent with generally accepted medical standards are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 93. Rape and other forms of sexual violence are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 94. Slavery and the slave trade in all their forms are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 95. Uncompensated or abusive forced labour is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 96. The taking of hostages is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 97. The use of human shields is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 98. Enforced disappearance is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 99. Arbitrary deprivation of liberty is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 100. No one may be convicted or sentenced, except pursuant to a fair trial affording all essential judicial guarantees. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 101. No one may be accused or convicted of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a criminal offence under national or international law at the time it was committed; nor may a heavier penalty be imposed than that which was applicable at the time the criminal offence was
committed. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 102. No one may be convicted of an offence except on the basis of individual criminal responsibility. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 103. Collective punishments are prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 104. The convictions and religious practices of civilians and persons hors de combat must be respected. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 105. Family life must be respected as far as possible. [IAC/NIAC]

Combatants and Prisoner-of-War Status

Rule 106. Combatants must distinguish themselves from the civilian population while they are engaged in an attack or in a military operation preparatory to an attack. If they fail to do so, they do not have the right to prisoner-of-war
status. [IAC]

Rule 107. Combatants who are captured while engaged in espionage do not have the right to prisoner-of-war status. They may not be convicted or sentenced without previous trial. [IAC]

Rule 108. Mercenaries, as defined in Additional Protocol I, do not have the right to combatant or prisoner-of-war status. They may not be convicted or sentenced without previous trial. [IAC]

The Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked

Rule 109. Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly after an engagement, each party to the conflict must, without delay, take all possible measures to search for, collect and evacuate the wounded, sick and shipwrecked without adverse distinction. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 110. The wounded, sick and shipwrecked must receive, to the fullest extent practicable and with the least possible delay, the medical care and attention required by their condition. No distinction may be made among them founded on any grounds other than medical ones. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 111. Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to protect the wounded, sick and shipwrecked against ill-treatment and against pillage of their personal property. [IAC/NIAC]

The Dead

Rule 112. Whenever circumstances permit, and particularly after an engagement, each party to the conflict must, without delay, take all possible measures to search for, collect and evacuate the dead without adverse distinction.[IAC/NIAC]

Rule 113. Each party to the conflict must take all possible measures to prevent the dead from being despoiled. Mutilation of dead bodies is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 114. Parties to the conflict must endeavour to facilitate the return of the remains of the deceased upon request of the party to which they belong or upon the request of their next of kin. They must return their personal effects to them. [IAC]

Rule 115. The dead must be disposed of in a respectful manner and their graves respected and properly maintained. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 116. With a view to the identification of the dead, each party to the conflict must record all available information prior to disposal and mark the location of the graves. [IAC/NIAC]

Missing Persons

Rule 117. Each party to the conflict must take all feasible measures to account for persons reported missing as a result of armed conflict and must provide their family members with any information it has on their fate. [IAC/NIAC]

Persons Deprived of Their Liberty

Rule 118. Persons deprived of their liberty must be provided with adequate food, water, clothing, shelter and medical attention. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 119. Women who are deprived of their liberty must be held in quarters separate from those of men, except where families are accommodated as family units, and must be under the immediate supervision of women. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 120. Children who are deprived of their liberty must be held in quarters separate from those of adults, except where families are accommodated as family units. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 121. Persons deprived of their liberty must be held in premises which are removed from the combat zone and which safeguard their health and hygiene. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 122. Pillage of the personal belongings of persons deprived of their liberty is prohibited. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 123. The personal details of persons deprived of their liberty must be recorded. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 124.
A. In international armed conflicts, the ICRC must be granted regular access to all persons deprived of their liberty in order to verify the conditions of their detention and to restore contacts between those persons and their families. [IAC]
B. In non-international armed conflicts, the ICRC may offer its servicesto the parties to the conflict with a view to visiting all persons deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the conflict in order to verify the conditions of their detention and to restore contacts between those persons and their families. [NIAC]

Rule 125. Persons deprived of their liberty must be allowed to correspond with their families, subject to reasonable conditions relating to frequency and the need for censorship by the authorities. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 126. Civilian internees and persons deprived of their liberty in connection with a non-international armed conflict must be allowed to receive visitors, especially near relatives, to the degree practicable.

Rule 127. The personal convictions and religious practices of persons deprived of their liberty must be respected. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 128.
A. Prisoners of war must be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities. [IAC]
B. Civilian internees must be released as soon as the reasons which necessitated internment no longer exist, but at the latest as soon as possible after the close of active hostilities. [IAC]
C. Persons deprived of their liberty in relation to a non-international armed conflict must be released as soon as the reasons for the deprivation of their liberty cease to exist. [NIAC]
The persons referred to may continue to be deprived of their liberty if penal proceedings are pending against them or if they are serving a sentence lawfully imposed.

Displacement and Displaced Persons

Rule 129.
A. Parties to an international armed conflict may not deport or forcibly transfer the civilian population of an occupied territory, in whole or in part, unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand. [IAC]
B. Parties to a non-international armed conflict may not order the displacement of the civilian population, in whole or in part, for reasons related to the conflict, unless the security of the civilians involved or imperative military reasons so demand. [NIAC]

Rule 130. States may not deport or transfer parts of their own civilian population into a territory they occupy. [IAC]

Rule 131. In case of displacement, all possible measures must be taken in order that the civilians concerned are received under satisfactory conditions of shelter, hygiene, health, safety and nutrition and that members of the same family are not separated. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 132. Displaced persons have a right to voluntary return in safety to their homes or places of habitual residence as soon as the reasons for their displacement cease to exist. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 133. The property rights of displaced persons must be respected. [IAC/NIAC]

Other Persons Afforded Specific Protection

Rule 134. The specific protection, health and assistance needs of women affected by armed conflict must be respected. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 135. Children affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protection. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 136. Children must not be recruited into armed forces or armed groups. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 137. Children must not be allowed to take part in hostilities. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 138. The elderly, disabled and infirm affected by armed conflict are entitled to special respect and protection. [IAC/NIAC]
Implementation


Compliance with International Humanitarian Law

Rule 139. Each party to the conflict must respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law by its armed forces and other persons or groups acting in fact on its instructions, or under its direction or control. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 140. The obligation to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law does not depend on reciprocity. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 141. Each State must make legal advisers available, when necessary, to advise military commanders at the appropriate level on the application of international humanitarian law. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 142. States and parties to the conflict must provide instruction in international humanitarian law to their armed forces. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 143. States must encourage the teaching of international humanitarian law to the civilian population. [IAC/NIAC]

Enforcement of International Humanitarian Law

Rule 144. States may not encourage violations of international humanitarian law by parties to an armed conflict. They must exert their influence, to the degree possible, to stop violations of international humanitarian law.
[IAC/NIAC]

Rule 145. Where not prohibited by international law, belligerent reprisals are subject to stringent conditions. [IAC]

Rule 146. Belligerent reprisals against persons protected by the Geneva Conventions are prohibited. [IAC]

Rule 147. Reprisals against objects protected under the Geneva Conventions and Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property are prohibited. [IAC]

Rule 148. Parties to non-international armed conflicts do not have the right to resort to belligerent reprisals. Other countermeasures against persons who do not or who have ceased to take a direct part in hostilities are prohibited.[NIAC]

Responsibility and Reparation

Rule 149. A State is responsible for violations of international humanitarian law attributable to it, including:
(a) violations committed by its organs, including its armed forces;
(b) violations committed by persons or entities it empowered to exercise elements of governmental authority;
(c) violations committed by persons or groups acting in fact on its instructions, or under its direction or control; and
(d) violations committed by private persons or groups which it acknowledges and adopts as its own conduct. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 150. A State responsible for violations of international humanitarian law is required to make full reparation for the loss or injury caused. [IAC/NIAC]

Individual Responsibility

Rule 151. Individuals are criminally responsible for war crimes they commit. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 152. Commanders and other superiors are criminally responsible for war crimes committed pursuant to their orders. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 153. Commanders and other superiors are criminally responsible for war crimes committed by their subordinates if they knew, or had reason to know, that the subordinates were about to commit or were committing such crimes and did not take all necessary and reasonable measures in their power to prevent their commission, or if such crimes had been committed, to punish the persons responsible. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 154. Every combatant has a duty to disobey a manifestly unlawful order. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 155. Obeying a superior order does not relieve a subordinate of criminal responsibility if the subordinate knew that the act ordered was unlawful or should have known because of the manifestly unlawful nature of the act ordered.
[IAC/NIAC]

War Crimes
Rule 156. Serious violations of international humanitarian law constitute war crimes. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 157. States have the right to vest universal jurisdiction in their national courts over war crimes. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 158. States must investigate war crimes allegedly committed by their nationals or armed forces, or on their territory, and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects. They must also investigate other war crimes over which they have jurisdiction and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 159. At the end of hostilities, the authorities in power must endeavourto grant the broadest possible amnesty to persons who have participated in a non-international armed conflict, or those deprived of their liberty for reasons related to the armed conflict, with the exception of persons suspected of, accused of or sentenced for war crimes. [NIAC]

Rule 160. Statutes of limitation may not apply to war crimes. [IAC/NIAC]

Rule 161. States must make every effort to cooperate, to the extent possible, with each other in order to facilitate the investigation of war crimes and the prosecution of the suspects. [IAC/NIAC]

Source: J.M. Henckaerts. Study on customary international humanitarian law

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15 responses to The Laws of War

  1. 

    who cares about human rights
    profit is more import-end

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  9. NATO Bombs the Great Man-Made River Project in Libya: Humanitarian Disaster Looming « LIBYA AGAINST SUPER POWER MEDIA - November 4, 2011

    [...] Laws of War were designed to prevent attacks on targets indispensible to the civilian population, so attacking [...]

  10. LIBYA War Crime: NATO Bombed The Great Man Made River That Provides Drinking Water | russiandefenseleague - December 27, 2011

    [...] The Laws of War were designed to prevent attacks on targets indispensible to the civilian population, so attacking a civilian infrastructure target such as this plant is a war crime. [...]

  11. War on Terror Proponents . . . Promote Terrorist Attack? « Democrazy - January 14, 2012

    [...] game” is erroneous. Assassination of Iran’s scientists breaks the following laws of war: Rule 1. the parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and [...]

  12. The “Liberation of Sirte ” [sic] ~ Obama’s and NATO’s Handiwork « Piazza della Carina - March 8, 2012

    [...] bombs inside a densely populated urban area is a war crime, although NATO commanders (such as Lieutenant-General Charles Bouchard and Admiral Stavridis) and [...]

  13. The ‘Halfaya bakery massacre’ « Human rights investigations - January 23, 2013

    [...] The Laws of War [...]

  14. Anonymous - June 26, 2013

    […] in harmony with one another. There are a number of points to make about this: 1) This is clearly a war crime and those complicit in arming, providing bases for and supporting the militias responsible for this […]

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