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Canada
Practice Relating to Rule 145. Reprisals
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) defines a reprisal as “an act, otherwise unlawful under the LOAC … utilized for the purpose of coercing an adversary to stop violating the recognized rules of armed conflict”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, Glossary, p. GL-17.
The manual also states:
In the event of serious or persistent breaches of the LOAC it may be necessary for the adverse party to resort to a reprisal in an attempt to terminate the illegality. A reprisal is an illegal act resorted to after the adverse party has performed illegal acts and has refused to stop after being called upon to do so. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 12.
The manual further states that a reprisal “is not a retaliatory act or a simple act of vengeance”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 14.
The manual goes on to say:
To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
a. It must respond to serious violations and manifestly unlawful acts, committed by an adversary government, its military commanders, or combatants for whom the adversary is responsible;
b. It must be accomplished for the purpose of compelling the adversary to observe the LOAC. Reprisals can not be undertaken for revenge or punishment. They are directed against an adversary in order to induce compliance with LOAC. Thus, reprisals serve as a law enforcement mechanism. Above all, reprisals are justifiable only to force an adversary to stop its illegal activity. If, for example, a party to an armed conflict commits a breach of law but follows that violation with an expression of regret and promise that it will not be repeated, and even takes steps to punish those responsible, then the action taken by another party to “redress” the situation cannot be justified as a lawful reprisal;
c. There must be reasonable notice that reprisals will be taken. What degree of notice is required will depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. Notice is normally given after the violation but may, in appropriate circumstances, predate the violation. An example is an appeal to the transgressor to cease its offending conduct and punish those responsible. Thus, such an appeal may serve both as a plea for compliance and a notice to the adversary that reprisals will be taken;
g. It must be publicized. Since reprisals are undertaken to induce an adversary’s compliance with the recognized rules of LOAC, any action taken as a reprisal must be announced as a reprisal and publicized so that the adversary is aware of its obligation to abide by the law. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 17.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Preventative and enforcement measures and the role of protecting powers”:
1. In the event of serious or persistent breaches of the LOAC it may be necessary for the adverse party to resort to a reprisal in an attempt to terminate the illegality. [A] reprisal is an illegal act resorted to after the adverse party has performed illegal acts and has refused to stop after being called upon to do so.
3. Reprisal is not a retaliatory act or a simple act of vengeance. It must be proportionate to the original wrongdoing, and must be terminated as soon as the original wrongdoer ceases the illegal actions …
6. To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
a. It must respond to serious violations and manifestly unlawful acts committed by an adversary government, its military commanders or combatants for whom the adversary is responsible;
b. It must be accomplished for the purpose of compelling the adversary to observe the LOAC.
Reprisals cannot be undertaken for revenge or punishment. They are directed against an adversary in order to induce compliance with the LOAC. Thus, reprisals serve as a law enforcement mechanism. Above all, reprisals are justifiable only to force an adversary to stop its illegal activity.
If, for example, a party to an armed conflict commits a breach of law but follows that violation with an expression of regret and promise that it will not be repeated, and even takes steps to punish those responsible, then any action taken by another party to “redress” the situation cannot be justified as a lawful reprisal;
c. There must be reasonable notice that reprisals will be taken. What degree of notice is required will depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. Notice is normally given after the violation but may, in appropriate circumstances, predate the violation. An example of notice is an appeal to the transgressor to cease its offending conduct and punish those responsible. Thus, such an appeal may serve both as a plea for compliance and a notice to the adversary that reprisals will be undertaken;
g. It must be publicized. Since reprisals are undertaken to induce an adversary’s compliance with the recognized rules of LOAC, any action taken as a reprisal must be announced as a reprisal and publicized so that the adversary is aware of its obligation to abide by the law. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1507.1, 3, 6.a–c and g.
In its glossary, the manual defines reprisal as: “An act, otherwise unlawful under the LOAC conflict, utilized for the purpose of coercing an adversary to stop violating the recognized rules of armed conflict.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, Glossary, pp. GL-16 and GL-17.
In 1981, in a memorandum on Canada’s attitude to possible reservations with regard to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Canadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted that the 1977 Additional Protocol I “has so effectively limited the areas of permissible reprisals as to virtually constitute a total ban on them”. As a counter-argument against a reservation on reprisals, it noted, inter alia, that “reprisals are punitive rather than protective in character and therefore do not belong within the framework of a humanitarian agreement” and that “they cannot be controlled and contribute to counter-reprisals and a general escalation of violence”. 
Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum of the Legal Operations Division on the ratification of the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Red Cross Convention: Canada’s attitude to possible reservations, Doc. FLO-830, 16 June 1981, §§ 6 and 8.
The memorandum further stated:
A reservation on reprisals would also affect the operation of the general obligation contained in Article 1 of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I], viz, “The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and ensure respect for this Protocol in all circumstances”. The phrase “in all circumstances” can be taken to include circumstances in which the adverse party is violating the Protocol. 
Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum of the Legal Operations Division on the ratification of the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Red Cross Convention: Canada’s attitude to possible reservations, Doc. FLO-830, 16 June 1981, § 12.
The memorandum also stated:
The “material breach” provision of the Vienna Convention on the Law of the Treaties (Article 60) cannot be invoked to permit a party to the Protocol to suspend the operation of the prohibition of reprisals in the face of e.g. enemy bombardment of the civilian population. The fifth paragraph of the Article 60 of the Convention … was expressly introduced in the Treaty to reinforce the already existing prohibitions against reprisals contained in the Geneva Conventions. It could therefore be argued that to enter a reservation on reprisals with respect to [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] defeats the object of the Conventions and Protocol and also the object of the relevant provision of the Vienna Convention. In other words, the reserving State would be attempting to do by reservation what it could not do by suspension of the agreement on the grounds of material breach. 
Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum of the Legal Operations Division on the ratification of the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Red Cross Convention: Canada’s attitude to possible reservations, Doc. FLO-830, 16 June 1981, § 13.
With regard to the compatibility of a possible reservation regarding reprisals in respect of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and Principle II of the Declaration on Principles Guiding Relations between Participating States of the Final Act of the CSCE Helsinki Summit of 1975, the memorandum noted: “The Final Act does not of course have the force of law except to the extent that it incorporates already binding obligations. Nevertheless, it comprises commitments undertaken at the highest political level on the part of the thirty-five states participating in the CSCE.” It therefore stated: “A reservation regarding reprisals under [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] is thus likely to provoke allegations of non-compliance with the CSCE Final Act.” 
Canada, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Memorandum of the Legal Operations Division on the ratification of the 1977 Protocol I to the Geneva Red Cross Convention: Canada’s attitude to possible reservations, Doc. FLO-830, 16 June 1981, §§ 14–15.
In 1986, in an annex to a memorandum on Canada’s attitude to possible reservations with regard to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Canadian Ministry of Defence noted:
The expression “reprisal” is not defined in any international agreement. An acceptable definition would be as follows:
A reprisal is an otherwise illegal act of retaliation committed by one belligerent against another belligerent after that belligerent has violated the laws of war which is intended to cause that belligerent to comply in future with the laws of war. The act of reprisal must be proportional to the illegal act or acts committed by the other belligerent. 
Canada, Ministry of Defence, Memorandum on Ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Reprisals Reservation, Operational Considerations, Doc. 3440-13-2 (D Law/I), 14 March 1986, Annex A, § 1.
The Ministry of Defence further noted:
Under the [1949] Geneva Conventions, reprisals are permissible when directed against enemy military or civilian property or personnel behind the enemy’s lines. Under [the 1977 Additional Protocol I], the only legitimate reprisal targets are enemy armed forces or military objectives. Since these are already legitimate targets, the only means for carrying out reprisals would be the use of unlawful methods of combat, such as denial of quarter, or the use of unlawful weapons, such as biological weapons or lethal gases … The use of such methods or weapons would be more likely to increase the scale or intensity of the conflict than a response to a violation which is proportional and similar in kind. 
Canada, Ministry of Defence, Memorandum on Ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Reprisals Reservation, Operational Considerations, Doc. 3440-13-2 (D Law/I), 14 March 1986, Annex A, § 8.
The Ministry of Defence also stated: “It is difficult to point out individual cases where the possibility of reprisal deterred the commission of breaches of the law of armed conflict.” 
Canada, Ministry of Defence, Memorandum on Ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Reprisals Reservation, Operational Considerations, Doc. 3440-13-2 (D Law/I), 14 March 1986, Annex A, § 14.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides:
To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
c. There must be reasonable notice that reprisals will be taken. What degree of notice is required will depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. Notice is normally given after the violation but may, in appropriate circumstances, predate the violation. An example of notice is an appeal to the transgressor to cease its offending conduct and punish those responsible. Thus, such an appeal may serve both as a plea for compliance and a notice to the adversary that reprisals will be undertaken;
d. The victim of a violation must first exhaust other reasonable means of securing compliance in order to justify taking a reprisal. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-3, § 17.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Preventative and enforcement measures and the role of protecting powers”:
1. In the event of serious or persistent breaches of the LOAC it may be necessary for the adverse party to resort to a reprisal in an attempt to terminate the illegality. [A] reprisal is an illegal act resorted to after the adverse party has performed illegal acts and has refused to stop after being called upon to do so.
6. To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
c. There must be reasonable notice that reprisals will be taken. What degree of notice is required will depend upon the particular circumstances of each case. Notice is normally given after the violation but may, in appropriate circumstances, predate the violation. An example of notice is an appeal to the transgressor to cease its offending conduct and punish those responsible. Thus, such an appeal may serve both as a plea for compliance and a notice to the adversary that reprisals will be undertaken;
d. The victim of a violation must first exhaust other reasonable means of securing compliance in order to justify taking a reprisal. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1507.1 and 6.c–d.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states:
[The reprisal] must be proportionate to the original wrongdoing, and must be terminated as soon as the original wrongdoer ceases the illegal actions. Proportionality is not strict, for, if the reprisal is to be effective, it may often be greater than the original wrongdoing. Nevertheless, there must be a reasonable relationship between the original wrong and the reprisal measure. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 14.
The manual further provides:
To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
f. A reprisal must be proportional to the original violation. Although a reprisal need not conform in kind to the same type of acts complained of (bombardment for bombardment, weapon for weapon) it may not significantly exceed the adversary’s violation either in violence or effect. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-3, § 17.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Preventative and enforcement measures and the role of protecting powers”:
3. Reprisal is not a retaliatory act or a simple act of vengeance. It must be proportionate to the original wrongdoing, and must be terminated as soon as the original wrongdoer ceases the illegal actions. Proportionality is not strict, for, if the reprisal is to be effective, it may often be greater than the original wrongdoing. Nevertheless, there must be a reasonable relationship between the original wrong and the reprisal measure.
6. To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
f. A reprisal must be proportional to the original violation. Although a reprisal need not conform in kind to the same type of acts complained of (bombardment for bombardment, weapon for weapon) it may not significantly exceed the adversary’s violation either in violence or effect. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1507.3 and 6.f.
In 1986, in an annex to a memorandum on Canada’s attitude to possible reservations with regard to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Canadian Ministry of Defence noted: “The act of reprisal must be proportional to the illegal act or acts committed by the other belligerent.” 
Canada, Ministry of Defence, Memorandum on Ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Reprisals Reservation, Operational Considerations, Doc. 3440-13-2 (D Law/I), 14 March 1986, Annex A, § 1.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides: “The use of reprisals has great political and strategic implications. The decision to take reprisal action must therefore be authorized at the highest political level. Operational commanders on their own initiative are not authorized to carry out reprisals.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 13.
The manual further states:
To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
h. It must be authorized by national authorities at the highest political level as it entails full state responsibility. Therefore, military commanders are not on their own authorized to carry out reprisals. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-3, § 17.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Preventative and enforcement measures and the role of protecting powers”:
2. The use of reprisals has great political and strategic implications. The decision to take reprisal action must therefore be authorized at the highest political level. Operational commanders on their own initiative are not authorized to carry out reprisals.
6. To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
h. It must be authorized by national authorities at the highest political level as it entails full state responsibility. Therefore military commanders are not on their own authorized to carry out reprisals. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1507.2 and 6.h.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides that a reprisal “must be terminated as soon as the original wrongdoer ceases the illegal actions”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 14.
In another provision, the manual states:
Above all, reprisals are justifiable only to force an adversary to stop its illegal activity. If, for example, a party to an armed conflict commits a breach of law but follows that violation with an expression of regret and promise that it will not be repeated, and even takes steps to punish those responsible, then any action taken by another party to “redress” the situation cannot be justified as a lawful reprisal. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 15-2, § 17(b).
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter entitled “Preventative and enforcement measures and the role of protecting powers”:
3. Reprisal is not a retaliatory act or a simple act of vengeance. It must be proportionate to the original wrongdoing, and must be terminated as soon as the original wrongdoer ceases the illegal actions …
6. To qualify as a reprisal, an act must satisfy the following conditions:
b. It must be accomplished for the purpose of compelling the adversary to observe the LOAC.
Reprisals cannot be undertaken for revenge or punishment. They are directed against an adversary in order to induce compliance with the LOAC. Thus, reprisals serve as a law enforcement mechanism. Above all, reprisals are justifiable only to force an adversary to stop its illegal activity. If, for example, a party to an armed conflict commits a breach of law but follows that violation with an expression of regret and promise that it will not be repeated, and even takes steps to punish those responsible, then any action taken by another party to “redress” the situation cannot be justified as a lawful reprisal. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1507.3 and 6.b.