Practice Relating to Rule 49. War Booty
In 1998, an ICRC publication entitled “Spared from the Spear” recorded traditional Somali practice in warfare as follows:
The leader … gave out the following instructions which were to be strictly followed:
11. You should concentrate on looting the horses and camels and driving away as many of these animals as possible. You must also confiscate whatever weapons you can find.
The publication also described traditional Somali practice as follows: “In the case of intra-Rahanwein wars, the Malaaqs
and the Garaads
urged their men to confiscate as many of the enemy’s weapons and other fighting gear as possible”.
The publication further described traditional Somali practice as follows: “Among the agro-pastoralists in the land between the two rivers, no looting of animals or material property was allowed apart from confiscation of the enemy’s fighting gear.”
In 2011, in its comments on the concluding observations of the Human Rights Council concerning Somalia’s report, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia referred to “Spared from the Spear” as its “own Geneva Conventions”:
In times of hostilities, the Biri-Ma-Geydo
(Spared from the Spear), i.e. Somalia’s own “Geneva Conventions”[,] which existed long before the adoption of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, mitigated and regulated the conduct of clan hostilities and the treatment of immune groups.