Practice Relating to Rule 147. Reprisals against Protected Objects
Section A. Civilian objects in general
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands, in the chapter dealing with reprisals and referring to, inter alia
, Article 52 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, states: “No reprisals may be undertaken against civilian property.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
In the history of warfare, reprisals carried out have often exceeded the set limits. This has led to the current prohibition, in the humanitarian law of war and specifically in AP I [1977 Additional Protocol I], of reprisals against several groups of people and objects.
The following are now forbidden as reprisals:
- attacks on civilian objects.
In its chapter on behaviour in battle, the manual states: “Civilian objects must not be the subject of reprisals.”
In its chapter on the protection of the civilian population, the manual states that “reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited”.
At the CDDH, the Netherlands introduced an amendment to draft Additional Protocol I which read “attacks against civilian objects by way of reprisals are prohibited” on behalf of its sponsors (Austria, Egypt, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Philippines, USSR).
The Netherlands stated:
In fact, reprisals could rarely be confined to civilian objects alone and the infliction of suffering on the civilian population would be virtually inevitable … The sponsors of the amendment were in favour of extending [the prohibition of reprisals against civilians] to a complete ban on all reprisals against the civilian population and civilian objects alike.
At the CDDH, the Netherlands, during discussions on the protection of civilian objects, stated that “reprisals on civilian populations were prohibited by international law”.