Practice Relating to Rule 37. Open Towns and Non-Defended Localities
Section B. Establishment of non-defended localities
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) states that “the chief rule relating to non-defended localities” embodied in Article 59 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I has the status of customary law.
With respect to the setting-up of a non-defended locality, the manual recalls that it “shall not be preceded by negotiation between the parties, but it is based solely on a declaration issued by the defender”. The manual then states:
For the locality to receive protection, all military resistance must cease immediately. All combatants, together with mobile weapons and moveable material must be withdrawn. Fixed military installations and establishments such as fortifications may not be used against the other party … No hostile acts may be committed either by the authorities or by the local population, nor may any activities be undertaken in support of the withdrawing party’s military operations.
According to the manual: “The above conditions imply that the locality is left open to occupation by the adversary.”