Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) provides:
Having declared that international law pre-empts national law and having ratified the Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions on 4 August 1989, the Soviet Union has accepted the obligation to ensure respect for them by all State and public organizations and by its citizens, including the Armed Forces of the USSR.
The manual further provides that the “armed forces shall be subject to a disciplinary regime that ensures respect for the rules of IHL”.
The manual also states that, in time of war, commanders must “ensure the strict application of the rules of IHL by military personnel”.
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
Members of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation shall know and unconditionally observe the rules of international humanitarian law.
While organizing and conducting combat operations the commander and staff must take into account the rules of international humanitarian law.
The Regulations further states:
The commander and staff while organizing and conducting combat operations, firmly securing combat mission accomplishment, shall ensure respect of international humanitarian law … While getting military units ready for combat operations and controlling them during hostilities commanders shall be guided by the principles of international humanitarian law: the principles of legality, distinction, proportionality, humanity and military necessity … The principle of legality
means strict and precise respect of international humanitarian law by all military command bodies, military and civilian personnel.
[emphasis in original]
The Russian Federation’s Combat Manual (2005) states: “Every serviceman must know and respect the norms of international humanitarian law”.
The Disciplinary Regulations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (2007) states:
3. Military discipline makes it obligatory for every member of the Armed Forces:
- to respect the rules of international humanitarian law in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation.
4. Military discipline is achieved:
- through knowledge and respect by members of the Armed Forces of the laws of the Russian Federation, other normative acts of the Russian Federation, requirements of military service regulations and IHL rules.
The Internal Service Regulations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (2007) provides:
16. … Defence of State sovereignty and of territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, ensuring the security of the State, repelling an armed attack and attaining objectives in accordance with international obligations of the Russian Federation shall be the essence of the military duty, which makes it obligatory for a member of military personnel:
- to respect general principles and rules of international law and international treaties of the Russian Federation.
22. A member of military personnel must know and respect IHL rules and regulations pertaining to treatment of the wounded, sick, shipwrecked, medical personnel, ministers of religion, civilian population in areas of hostilities and prisoners of war.
83. A commander (superior) must improve his personal professional level of training and methods of management of a unit:
- know the normative legal acts of the Russian Federation within the limits of the legal minimum and IHL rules and act in strict compliance therewith, and to demand that his subordinates respect them.
The Russian Federation’s Law on Status of Members of Armed Forces (1993), as amended, provides:
Protection of the State sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation … constitutes the essence of the soldier’s duty, which obliges military servicemen: … to observe universally recognized principles and legal regulations of international law and international treaties [ratified] by the Russian Federation.
The Russian Federation’s Service Regulations of the Armed Forces (1993) provides:
A serviceman is obliged to know and pronouncedly observe international rules regarding the conduct of military operations and the treatment of the wounded, sick, shipwrecked and the civilian population in the military operations area, as well as prisoners of war.
In 1997, at a seminar on national implementation of IHL in the Russian Federation, a Russian Major-General of Justice and Deputy Chief for Training and Research Activities, stated:
Given that the 1993 Constitution of the Russian Federation recognized that the commonly accepted principles and norms of international law and international treaties to which the Russian Federation is a party are an integral part of its legal system (Article 15, Part 4), we can assert that in Russia there is a constitutional guarantee of respect of rules of international humanitarian law.
In an Order issued in 2001 on measures to ensure respect for international humanitarian law by the armed forces of the Russian Federation, the Russian Federation’s Minister of Defence stated:
With a view of implementing the international treaties relative to the international humanitarian law, I Hereby Order:
- strict observance by the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation of the combat regulations and combat support regulations requirements, while strictly respecting international humanitarian law.