Practice Relating to Rule 145. Reprisals
Section A. Definition and purpose of reprisals
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, India stated:
Reprisals or retaliation under international law are also governed by certain specific principles. First, reprisals to be valid and admissible could only be taken in response to a prior delict or wrongful act by a State … In other words, a nuclear weapon could not be used by way of reprisal against another State if that State did not commit any wrongful act or delict involving use of force.
After pointing out the principle of proportionality and the obligation to respect “certain fundamental principles of humanitarian law”, India stated:
In view of the above, use of nuclear weapons even by way of reprisal or retaliation, appears to be unlawful. In any case, if the wrongful use of force in the first instance did not involve the use of nuclear weapons, it is beyond doubt that even in response by way of retaliation States do not have the right to use nuclear weapons because of their special quality as weapons of mass destruction.