Rule 67. Inviolability of Parlementaires

Rule 67. Parlementaires are inviolable.
State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
This is a long-standing rule of customary international law already recognized in the Brussels Declaration and the Oxford Manual, and codified in the Hague Regulations.[1] The inviolability of parlementaires is restated in numerous military manuals.[2] Some of these manuals are applicable in, or have been applied in, non-international armed conflicts.[3] Several manuals consider that attacks against a parlementaire displaying the white flag of truce constitutes a war crime.[4] Breach of the inviolability of parlementaires is an offence under the legislation of many States.[5] This rule is also supported by other national practice.[6] This includes practice in the context of non-international armed conflicts.[7]
No official contrary practice was found. No party has claimed the right to breach the inviolability of parlementaires.
According to the Brussels Declaration, the Oxford Manual and the Hague Regulations, inviolability extends to the persons accompanying the parlementaire.[8] This point is also stated in many military manuals.[9] The UK Military Manual and LOAC Manual explain that the persons accompanying a parlementaire were traditionally a trumpeter, bugler or drummer, a flagbearer and an interpreter, but that these days a parlementaire may advance in an armoured vehicle flying a white flag, accompanied by a driver, wireless and loudspeaker operator and interpreter.[10]
Several military manuals stress that it is not required that there be a complete cease-fire in the entire sector in which the parlementaire arrives, but that the party advancing with the white flag may not be fired upon.[11] In addition, a number of military manuals emphasize that it is the duty of the parlementaire to choose a propitious moment to display the white flag of truce and to avoid dangerous zones.[12] Lastly, a number of military manuals specify that the inviolability of parlementaires and of the persons accompanying them lasts until they have safely returned to friendly territory.[13]
Practice indicates that a parlementaire bearing the white flag of truce has to advance towards the other party. The party with which the parlementaire wishes to communicate need not advance. This has also been discussed in relation to the particular circumstances of surrender in connection with an incident that took place during the war in the South Atlantic (see commentary to Rule 47).
[1] Brussels Declaration, Article 43 (cited in Vol. II, Ch. 19, § 156); Oxford Manual, Article 27 (ibid., § 157); Hague Regulations, Article 32 (ibid., § 155).
[2] See, e.g., the military manuals of Argentina (ibid., § 160), Australia (ibid., §§ 161–162), Belgium (ibid., §§ 163–164), Burkina Faso (ibid., § 165), Cameroon (ibid., § 166), Canada (ibid., § 167), Congo (ibid., § 168), Ecuador (ibid., § 169), France (ibid., §§ 170–171), Germany (ibid., § 172), Italy (ibid., § 173), Kenya (ibid., § 174), Republic of Korea (ibid., § 175), Mali (ibid., § 176), Netherlands (ibid., §§ 177–178), New Zealand (ibid., § 179), Nigeria (ibid., § 180), Philippines (ibid., §§ 181–182), Russian Federation (ibid., § 183), Senegal (ibid., § 184), South Africa (ibid., § 185), Spain (ibid., §§ 186–187), Switzerland (ibid., §§ 188–189), United Kingdom (ibid., §§ 190–191), United States (ibid., §§ 192–195) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 196).
[3] See, e.g., the military manuals of Australia (ibid., § 161), Ecuador (ibid., § 169), Germany (ibid., § 172), Italy (ibid., § 173), Kenya (ibid., § 174), Philippines (ibid., §§ 181–182), South Africa (ibid., § 185) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 196).
[4] See, e.g., the military manuals of Australia (ibid., §§ 161–162), Canada (ibid., § 167), Ecuador (ibid., § 169), Republic of Korea (ibid., § 175), New Zealand (ibid., § 179), Nigeria (ibid., § 180), South Africa (ibid., § 185), Switzerland (ibid., § 189), United Kingdom (ibid., § 190) and United States (ibid., §§ 192–195).
[5] See, e.g., the legislation of Argentina (ibid., § 197), Bosnia and Herzegovina (ibid., § 199), Chile (ibid., § 200), Croatia (ibid., § 201), Dominican Republic (ibid., § 202), Ecuador (ibid., § 203), El Salvador (ibid., § 204), Estonia (ibid., § 205), Ethiopia (ibid., § 206), Hungary (ibid., § 207), Italy (ibid., § 208), Mexico (ibid., §§ 209–210), Nicaragua (ibid., § 211), Peru (ibid., § 212), Slovenia (ibid., § 213), Spain (ibid., §§ 214–216), Switzerland (ibid., § 217), Venezuela (ibid., §§ 218–219) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 220); see also the draft legislation of Argentina (ibid., § 198).
[6] See, e.g., the practice of the United Kingdom (ibid., § 225) and the reported practice of China (ibid., § 222), Colombia (ibid., § 223), Philippines (ibid., § 224) and United States (ibid., § 227).
[7] See, e.g., the reported practice of China (ibid., § 222), Colombia (ibid., § 223) and Philippines (ibid., § 224).
[8] Brussels Declaration, Article 43 (ibid., § 156); Oxford Manual, Article 28 (ibid., § 157); Hague Regulations, Article 32 (ibid., § 155).
[9] See, e.g., the military manuals of Argentina (ibid., § 160), Belgium (ibid., § 163), Canada (ibid., § 167), Germany (ibid., § 172), Italy (ibid., § 173), Netherlands (ibid., §§ 177–178), New Zealand (ibid., § 179), Nigeria (ibid., § 180), Russian Federation (ibid., § 183), Spain (ibid., § 187), Switzerland (ibid., §§ 188–189), United Kingdom (ibid., §§ 190–191), United States (ibid., § 192) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 196).
[10] United Kingdom, Military Manual (ibid., § 190) and LOAC Manual (ibid., § 191).
[11] See, e.g., the military manuals of Canada (ibid., § 167), Germany (ibid., § 172), Italy (ibid., § 173), Netherlands (ibid., §§ 177–178), New Zealand (ibid., § 179), United Kingdom (ibid., § 190), United States (ibid., § 192) and Yugoslavia (ibid., § 196).
[12] See, e.g., the military manuals of New Zealand (ibid., § 179), Nigeria (ibid., § 180), United Kingdom (ibid., § 190) and United States (ibid., § 192).
[13] See, e.g., the military manuals of Canada (ibid., § 167), Germany (ibid., § 172), Italy (ibid., § 173), Kenya (ibid., § 174), New Zealand (ibid., § 179) and United Kingdom (ibid., §§ 190–191).