Rule 130. Transfer of Own Civilian Population into Occupied TerritoryRule 130. States may not deport or transfer parts of their own civilian population into a territory they occupy.
SummaryState practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in international armed conflicts.
International armed conflictsThe prohibition on deporting or transferring parts of a State’s own civilian population into the territory it occupies is set forth in the Fourth Geneva Convention. It is a grave breach of Additional Protocol I. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.
Many military manuals prohibit the deportation or transfer by a party to the conflict of parts of its civilian population into the territory it occupies. This rule is included in the legislation of numerous States. Official statements and reported practice also support the prohibition on transferring one’s own civilian population into occupied territory.
Attempts to alter the demographic composition of an occupied territory have been condemned by the UN Security Council. In 1992, it called for the cessation of attempts to change the ethnic composition of the population, anywhere in the former Yugoslavia. Similarly, the UN General Assembly and UN Commission on Human Rights have condemned settlement practices. According to the final report of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Dimensions of Population Transfer, including the Implantation of Settlers and Settlements, “the implantation of settlers” is unlawful and engages State responsibility and the criminal responsibility of individuals.
In 1981, the 24th International Conference of the Red Cross reaffirmed that “settlements in occupied territory are incompatible with article 27 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention”.
In the Case of the Major War Criminals in 1946, the International Military Tribunal at Nuremberg found two of the accused guilty of attempting the “Germanization” of occupied territories.