Practice Relating to Rule 35. Hospital and Safety Zones and Neutralized Zones
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book I (Basic instruction):
Lesson 1. Basic notions of IHL
The principle of distinction specifies who and what can be attacked and who and what cannot be attacked.
- Who and what must be protected?
- hospital and safety zones and localities,
Lesson 2. Identification
II.2 Persons and objects under special protection
- hospital and safety zones and localities.
In Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
IV.2. Protected zones
The law of armed conflicts makes provision for various protected zones or localities. It is important to know the raison d’être of these zones. These zones can have different names, but they always have two elements in common:
- to protect civilian and military victims against the effects of hostilities;
- to keep these victims separate, guaranteeing that there are no military objectives in the defined zones.
Thus, if the enemy respects the law, the victims run no risk of suffering from the effects of the hostilities. Attacks against these zones or localities are prohibited.
IV.3. Hospital zones and localities
Provided for by Geneva Convention I and intended to offer protection to the sick and wounded of the armed forces and to medical personnel, these zones are created by written agreement concluded between the two parties or by a unilateral declaration recognized by your enemy. They are generally located far behind the front line, and marked by the red cross, the red crescent or the red crystal (or by the red lion and sun).
IV.4. Safety zones
This concept is developed in Geneva Convention IV. The essential purpose of safety zones is to protect precise categories of civilians and not only military victims. The Convention quotes in particular the wounded and sick, aged persons, children under fifteen, expectant mothers and mothers of children under seven. Again, these zones must be created far behind the front lines, and by agreements of the same type. In this specific case, they are marked by oblique red bands on a white ground.
IV.5. Neutralized zones
The object of these zones is to protect all civilians who take no part in hostilities as well as sick and wounded combatants. They are distinguished by the fact that they are created in the regions where fighting takes place. They are established by a written agreement concluded with the enemy. The agreement must contain detailed information on the geographical position, marking, food supply, and control of the zone, as well as the duration of the neutralization. It goes without saying that neutralized zones must not be used for any military purposes whatsoever, otherwise the protection ends. These zones can cover larger areas than those described above. They can, for example, comprise whole villages.