Rule 60. The use of the United Nations emblem and uniform is prohibited, except as authorized by the organization.
State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
The prohibition of unauthorized use of the United Nations emblem and uniform is included in Additional Protocol I.[1] Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, making improper, i.e., unauthorized, use of the flag or the military insignia or uniforms of the United Nations constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts when it results in death or serious personal injury.[2]
The prohibition of the unauthorized use of the United Nations emblem and uniform is recognized in many military manuals.[3] Violation of this rule is an offence under the legislation of numerous States.[4] This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I.[5]
This rule was included in the draft of Additional Protocol II by Committee III of the Diplomatic Conference leading to the adoption of the Additional Protocols but was deleted at the last moment as part of a package aimed at the adoption of a simplified text.[6] It is contained in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.[7]
The prohibition of the unauthorized use of the United Nations emblem and uniform is set forth in military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts.[8] Violation of this rule is an offence in any armed conflict under the legislation of numerous States.[9]
No official contrary practice was found with respect to either international or non-international armed conflicts. Alleged violations of this rule have generally been condemned, in particular in the context of the conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[10] No party to a conflict has denied the applicability of this rule or claimed that it would be lawful to use United Nations emblems and uniforms without being so authorized.
[1] Additional Protocol I, Article 38(2) (adopted by consensus) (cited in Vol. II, Ch. 18, § 465).
[2] ICC Statute, Article 8(2)(b)(vii) (ibid., § 468).
[3] See, e.g., the military manuals of Argentina (ibid., § 473), Australia (ibid., §§ 474–475), Belgium (ibid., § 476), Burkina Faso (ibid., § 477), Cameroon (ibid., §§ 478–479), Canada (ibid., § 480), Colombia (ibid., § 481), Congo (ibid., § 482), Ecuador (ibid., § 483), France (ibid., §§ 484–485), Germany (ibid., § 486), Italy (ibid., § 487), Mali (ibid., § 488), Morocco (ibid., § 489), Netherlands (ibid., § 490), New Zealand (ibid., § 491), Russian Federation (ibid., § 492), Senegal (ibid., § 493), Spain (ibid., § 494), Sweden (ibid., § 495), United States (ibid., §§ 496–497) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 498).
[4] See, e.g., the legislation of Algeria (ibid., § 499), Armenia (ibid., § 501), Australia (ibid., §§ 502–503), Azerbaijan (ibid., § 504), Belarus (ibid., § 505), Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid., § 506), Burkina Faso (ibid., § 507), Canada (ibid., § 509), Democratic Republic of the Congo (ibid., § 510), Congo (ibid., § 511), Côte d’Ivoire (ibid., § 512), Croatia (ibid., § 513), Czech Republic (ibid., § 514), Denmark (ibid., § 515), France (ibid., § 516), Georgia (ibid., § 517), Germany (ibid., § 518), Guinea (ibid., § 519), Ireland (ibid., § 520), Italy (ibid., § 521), Lithuania (ibid., § 522), Mali (ibid., §§ 523–524), Netherlands (ibid., § 525), New Zealand (ibid., § 526), Norway (ibid., §§ 527–528), Poland (ibid., § 529), Slovakia (ibid., § 530), Slovenia (ibid., § 531), Spain (ibid., § 532), Sweden (ibid., § 533), Switzerland (ibid., § 534), United Kingdom (ibid., § 536) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 537); see also the draft legislation of Argentina (ibid., § 500), Burundi (ibid., § 508) and Trinidad and Tobago (ibid., § 535).
[5] See the military manuals of Mali (ibid., § 488) and United States (ibid., § 497), the legislation of Azerbaijan (ibid., § 504), the statement of the United States (ibid., § 541), the practice of United Kingdom (ibid., § 540), and the reported practice of Indonesia (ibid., § 539)
[6] Draft Additional Protocol II, Article 23(2) (ibid., § 466).
[7] See, e.g., Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, § 6 (ibid., § 470); Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, § 2.5 (ibid., § 471).
[8] See, e.g., the military manuals of Australia (ibid., § 474), Colombia (ibid., § 481), Ecuador (ibid., § 483), Germany (ibid., § 486), Italy (ibid., § 487) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 498).
[9] See, e.g., the legislation of Armenia (ibid., § 501), Azerbaijan (ibid., § 504), Belarus (ibid., § 505), Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid., § 506), Democratic Republic of the Congo (ibid., § 510), Croatia (ibid., § 513), Germany (ibid., § 518), Guinea (ibid., § 519), Poland (ibid., § 529), Slovenia (ibid., § 531), Spain (ibid., § 532), Sweden (ibid., § 533) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 537); see also the legislation of Burkina Faso (ibid., § 507), Czech Republic (ibid., § 514), Italy (ibid., § 521) and Slovakia (ibid., § 530), the application of which is not excluded in time of non-international armed conflict, and the draft legislation of Argentina (ibid., § 500).
[10] See, e.g., UN Secretary-General, Report submitted pursuant to Security Council Resolution 1010 (1995) (ibid., § 543).