United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 147. Reprisals against Protected Objects
Section B. Medical objects
The UK Military Manual (1958), in a part dealing with reprisals and referring, inter alia
, to Articles 14 and 46 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I and Articles 16 and 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II, states: “Reprisals against … buildings, equipment and vessels protected by [the 1949 Geneva Conventions I and II] … are … prohibited.”
In a footnote relating to this provision, the manual notes: “The effect of this rule is that reprisals are unlawful against all persons except enemy combatants and those few classes of civilians who are not protected persons.”
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “The Geneva Conventions and [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] prohibit reprisals against … medical and religious … buildings and equipment”.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United Kingdom stated:
To be lawful, a belligerent reprisal must meet two conditions. First, it must not be directed against persons or objects against which the taking of reprisals is specifically prohibited … The Geneva Conventions of 1949 prohibit the taking of reprisals against persons or objects protected by the Conventions.
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the United Kingdom stated that in the event of violations of Articles 51–55 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I by the adversary, the United Kingdom would regard itself entitled to take measures otherwise prohibited by these Articles, noting, however: “Any measures thus taken by the United Kingdom … will not involve any action prohibited by the Geneva Conventions of 1949.”