Practice Relating to Rule 37. Open Towns and Non-Defended Localities
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997), in a section entitled “Non-Defended Localities”, states:
Such areas are improvised protected zones from which military objectives and activities have been removed, and which:
-are situated near or in a zone where combat is taking place; and
-are open for occupation by the enemy.
They can be established through a unilateral declaration and notification thereof given to the enemy Party. However, for greater safety, formal agreements should be passed between the two Parties (under customary law and Hague regulations undefended localities that can be occupied, cannot be bombarded even if there is no notification).
The conditions to be fulfilled by both demilitarized zones and non-defended localities are the same in practice. They are:
a) that all combatants as well as mobile weapons and mobile military equipment must be evacuated;
b) that no hostile use shall be made of fixed military installations or establishments;
c) that no acts of hostility shall be committed by the authorities or by the population; and
d) that any activity linked to the military effort must cease.
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) provides that it is forbidden “to attack or bombard undefended towns, villages, dwellings or buildings”.