United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 135. Children
Section A. Special protection
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides:
35. Belligerents must allow the free passage of … all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15 …
36. Belligerents must make provision for the care of children under 15 who have been orphaned or separated from their families as a result of the war. They must ensure the maintenance of such children … Belligerents must also facilitate the reception of these children by neutral countries for the duration of hostilities, with the consent of the Protecting Power, if any, and under due safeguards as above, and must endeavour to arrange for all children under 12 to be easily identifiable.
The manual further states that as aliens in the territory of a party to the conflict, “children under fifteen … must be given the benefit of any preferential treatment that is accorded to similar classes of nationals of the belligerents”.
The manual also provides:
The Occupant must not prevent the application of any measures which may have been adopted prior to the occupation in favour of children under fifteen … with regard to food, medical care and protection against the effects of war.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “The free passage of medical and hospital stores and objects for religious worship is guaranteed as well as essential food and clothes for children.”
The Pamphlet adds: “Parties to the conflict are to care for children under 15, orphans and those separated from their families. They are not to be subject to political propaganda.”
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “Children are to be respected and protected, especially against indecent assault. The care and aid needed by children must be provided.”
In its discussion on the 1977 Additional Protocol II, the manual states:
15.39. In general, “children shall be provided with the care and aid they require” but the protocol also lays down particular requirements. These include an education which makes provision for their religious and moral care, steps to facilitate family reunions, and a ban on their recruitment or participation in the hostilities while under the age of fifteen. However, if children under that age do take part in hostilities, they continue to benefit from the general protections provided in the protocol, including the special protection of them as children. If necessary, measures should be taken, where possible with the consent of their parents or guardians, “to remove children temporarily from the area in which hostilities are taking place to a safer area within the country and ensure that they are accompanied by persons responsible for their safety and well-being”.
15.39.1. Particular attention is given to the position of children because they are likely to be at special risk in internal conflicts.
The UK Government Strategy on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (2010) states: “Specific population groups such as … children … benefit from additional protection provided for in specific conventions.”