Practice Relating to Rule 148. Reprisals in Non-International Armed Conflicts
At the CDDH, Finland proposed an amendment concerning the provision of fundamental guarantees within the Additional Protocol II (Part II, Article 6) according to which “measures of reprisal” should have been prohibited.
With respect to this proposal, the delegation of Finland declared:
[A] reference to measures of reprisals should be included in [the 1977 Additional Protocol II], so that civilian populations would have at least minimum guarantees against inhumane treatment by the parties to non-international armed conflicts … The amendment by the Finnish delegation was aimed at adding a new subparagraph [in the draft provision of the 1977 Additional Protocol II dealing with fundamental guarantees] in order to place a general prohibition on reprisals, as had been done in Article 33 of [the 1949 Geneva Convention IV].
The representative of Finland explained further:
Contrary to what was often stated, reprisals were not limited to times of war or other types of armed conflict, but were also exercised in times of peace. Reprisals should never in any circumstances be used against the civilian populations. They could possibly be employed between States or Parties to a conflict. For example, they could be regarded as legitimate in the event of destruction of public property or a violation of international law by one or other Party to a conflict. But there was universal agreement that reprisals of an inhumane nature were inadmissible. That was why innocent civilians should be protected against such acts in times both of war and peace.
The representative of Finland also stated:
With regard to the word “reprisals”, he still considered that there was no reason why it should not be used also in connexion with non-international armed conflicts; but his delegation would be willing to accept another word, provided that the content [i.e. of the proposal prohibiting reprisals] was not changed.
At the CDDH, in its explanation of vote concerning draft Article 10 bis of the Additional Protocol II, the delegation of Finland stated:
As the article was put to the vote … the Finnish delegation had to cast a favourable vote in view of its consistent support throughout the Conference for the prohibition of reprisals or measures in kind in armed conflicts, whether international or non-international.