Practice Relating to Rule 57. Ruses of War
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states:
Ruses of war may be used … Ruses of war are defined as behaviour which is intended to mislead an enemy or to induce him to act recklessly, but which do not violate any rules of the humanitarian law of war. Such behaviour is not treacherous because it does not inspire the confidence of the adversary with respect to protection under the humanitarian law of war. Examples of ruses of war are the use of camouflage, ambushes, fake positions, mock operations, misleading messages and incorrect information.
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands provides: “Ruses are permitted. For example: ambushes, feint, sending of mock messages, use of enemy watchwords and codes, mock positions and constructions, camouflage.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “There is a narrow borderline between perfidy and ruses of war. Acts of treachery (also called perfidy) are, however, forbidden. Ruses of war may be used.”
The manual further states:
0420. Ruses of war
Ruses of war are described as behaviour intended to mislead an adversary or induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rules of the humanitarian law of war. Such behaviour is not perfidious, because there is no attempt to gain the adversary’s trust in relation to protection under the humanitarian law of war. Examples of ruses of war are the use of camouflage, ambushes, decoys, mock operations, misinformation and incorrect intelligence.
Seeking, under cover of darkness, to take a bridge by surprise, the enemy uses armoured scout cars seized from the opposing side, from which the signs have been erased. The crews wear their own tank overalls and give the password on approach. After the last vehicle has crossed the bridge, the positions by the bridge are fired on. This is a legitimate ruse of war. As there is no use of the enemy’s distinguishing emblems and uniform, everything is permissible from the point of view of the law of war.
Section 6 - Incitement to actions in breach of the humanitarian law of war
0421. Incitement to commit war crimes, such as killing civilians, is forbidden. Propaganda aimed at inciting combatants to mutiny, desert or surrender is not forbidden.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states: “Ruses of war are permitted.”