Practice Relating to Rule 53. Starvation as a Method of Warfare
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) considers that the “prohibition of starvation of the civilian population if the intention is to kill and not primarily to force a capitulation”, as defined in Article 54 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, is part of customary international law.
The manual adds:
It is … established that, up to 1977, international law contained no express prohibition of starvation as a method of warfare. With this in mind, the new Article 54 of Additional Protocol I must be seen as an important milestone in the development of international humanitarian law. This Article provides an explicit prohibition against using starvation of civilian populations as a method of warfare.
At the CDDH, the Swedish delegate appealed “urgently to all delegations, particularly those of the Western and Others Group, to consider [Article 27 of the draft Additional Protocol II (now Article 14)] carefully and to adopt it”.