Practice Relating to Rule 53. Starvation as a Method of Warfare

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San Remo Manual
The 1994 San Remo Manual states:
102. The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival.
103. If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies. 
Louise Doswald-Beck (ed.), San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, Prepared by international lawyers and naval experts convened by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, §§ 102–103.
Australia
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) provides:
In so far as the purpose of a blockade is to deprive the enemy population of foodstuffs, so as to starve them in the hope that they would apply pressure to their government to seek peace, it would now appear to be illegal in accordance with Article 54(1) [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I]. 
Australia, Law of Armed Conflict, Commanders’ Guide, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 Supplement 1 – Interim Edition, 7 March 1994, § 850, footnote 5.
Australia
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states:
The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
a. it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects indispensable for its survival.
If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, §§ 665 and 666.
Australia
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
6.65 The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
• it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival;
6.66 If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, §§ 6.65–6.66.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) provides:
The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
a. it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival;
If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 8-9, §§ 67 and 68.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on naval warfare:
850. Circumstances in which a blockade is prohibited
1. The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
a. it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival; or
b. the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade.
851. Food and other objects essential to the survival of the civilian population
1. If the civilian population of the blockaded territory is inadequately provided with food and other objects essential for its survival, the blockading party must provide for free passage of such foodstuffs and other essential supplies, subject to:
a. the right to prescribe the technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted; and
b. the condition that the distribution of such supplies shall be made under the local supervision of a Protecting Power or a humanitarian organization which offers guarantees of impartiality, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, §§ 850 and 851.1.
In its glossary, the manual defines “blockade” as “the surrounding or blocking of a place such as a port to prevent entry and exit of supplies”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, Glossary, p. GL-2.
Ecuador
Ecuador’s Naval Manual (1989) states: “Neutral vessels and aircraft engaged in the carriage of qualifying relief supplies for the civilian population … should be authorized to pass through the blockade cordon.” 
Ecuador, Aspectos Importantes del Derecho Internacional Marítimo que Deben Tener Presente los Comandantes de los Buques, Academia de Guerra Naval, 1989, § 7.7.3.
France
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) states that when carrying out a blockade, there is an obligation “to allow free passage for relief indispensable to the survival of the civilian population”. 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 33.
Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992), in a section on blockades, states: “Starvation of the civilian population as a method of warfare is prohibited.” 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 1051.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states that blockade is not prohibited “even if it causes some collateral deprivation to the civilian population, so long as starvation is not the specific purpose”. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 504(2), footnote 9.
Peru
Peru’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
Blockade.
(10) The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
(a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival;
(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade. 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial Nº 1394-2004-DE/CCFFAA/CDIH-FFAA, Lima, 1 December 2004, § 134.a.(10).
Peru
Peru’s IHL and Human Rights Manual (2010) states:
a. Blockade.
(10) The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
(a) it has the sole purpose of starving the civilian population or denying it other objects essential for its survival;
(b) the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade. 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derechos Humanos para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial No. 049-2010/DE/VPD, Lima, 21 May 2010, § 125(a)(10), p. 317.
Sweden
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) states:
Certain states have maintained that the prohibition against starvation shall apply without exception which would also mean its application against blockade in naval warfare. Other states have claimed that this method of warfare is the province of the international law of naval warfare, which, according to Article 49:3, shall not be affected by the new rules of Additional Protocol I. There is thus no consensus that the prohibition of starvation shall be considered to include maritime blockade. 
Sweden, International Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict, with reference to the Swedish Total Defence System, Swedish Ministry of Defence, January 1991, Section 3.2.1.5, pp. 59 and 60.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
The declaration or establishment of a blockade is prohibited if:
a. it is intended to starve the civilian population or deny it objects essential for its survival; or
b. the damage to the civilian population is, or may be expected to be, excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the blockade. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 13.74.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states:
15.19. Starvation of civilians as a method of warfare is prohibited.
15.19.1. The right to life is a non-derogable human right. Violence to the life and person of civilians is prohibited, whatever method is adopted to achieve it. It follows that the destruction of crops, foodstuffs and water sources, to such an extent that starvation is likely to follow, is also prohibited. The same applies to sieges, blockades, embargoes, or the blocking of relief supplies with the intention of causing starvation. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 15.19–15.19.1.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states: “Neutral vessels and aircraft engaged in the carriage of qualifying relief supplies for the civilian population … should be authorized to pass through the blockade cordon.” 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-2.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Transportation, US Coast Guard, October 1995 (formerly NWP 9 (Rev. A)/FMFM 1-10, October 1989), § 7.7.3.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states that “neutral vessels and aircraft engaged in the carriage of qualifying relief supplies for the civilian population … should be authorized to pass through the blockade cordon”. 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-12.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, July 2007, § 7.7.3.
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Iraq
According to the Report on the Practice of Iraq, refraining from the use of embargoes on food and medicine as a weapon by one of the conflicting parties is a fixed and established principle which has been applied by the Iraqi armed forces in armed conflicts. 
Report on the Practice of Iraq, 1998, Chapter 4.1.
Malaysia
In 2010, during the consideration of the status of the 1977 Additional Protocols by the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, a statement of the delegation of Malaysia was summarized by the Committee in its records as follows:
8. [The delegate of Malaysia] said that …
10 … [t]he laws of naval warfare incorporated the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, including necessity and proportionality …
11. [and that]…[u]nder the established laws of naval blockade, a blockade was prohibited if its sole purpose was to starve the civilian population or to deny that population other objects essential for survival, if the damage was excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage. 
Malaysia, Statement by the delegation of Malaysia before the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly on the Status of the Protocols Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of armed conflict, 18 October 2010, as published in the summary record of the 13th meeting, 8 December 2010, UN Doc. A/C.6/65/SR.13, §§ 8, 10 and 11.
United States of America
In 1973, a Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State expressed the hope that
new rules can … be developed to reduce or eliminate the possibility that starvation will result from blockade, perhaps by requiring the passage of food supplies provided only that distribution is made solely to civilians and is supervised by the ICRC or some other appropriate external body. 
United States, Address by George H. Aldrich, Deputy Legal Adviser of the Department of State, 13 April 1973, reprinted in Arthur W. Rovine, Digest of United States Practice in International Law, 1973, Department of State Publication 8756, Washington, D.C., 1974, pp. 503–504.
UN Security Council
In 1996, in a statement by its President on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN Security Council declared that it was particularly concerned about “the blockade of [Kabul], which has prevented the delivery of foodstuffs, fuel and other humanitarian items to its population”. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1996/6, 15 February 1996, p. 1.
UN Security Council
In 1998, in a statement by its President on the situation in Afghanistan, the UN Security Council stated:
The Security Council is also concerned with the sharp deterioration of the humanitarian situation in several areas in Central and Northern Afghanistan, which is caused by the Taliban-imposed blockade of the Bamyan region remaining in place despite appeals by the United Nations and several of its Member States to lift it, as well as by the lack of supplies coming in from the northern route owing to insecurity and looting. 
UN Security Council, Statement by the President, UN Doc. S/PRST/1998/9, 6 April 1998, p. 2.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1994 on the situation of human rights in Iraq, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Further expresses its special alarm at all internal embargoes which permit essentially no exceptions for humanitarian needs and which prevent the equitable enjoyment of basic foodstuffs and medical supplies, and calls upon Iraq, which has sole responsibility in this regard, to remove them and to take such steps as to cooperate with international humanitarian agencies in the provision of relief to those in need throughout Iraq. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1994/74, 9 March 1994, § 9; voting record: 34-1-18
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1995 on the situation of human rights in Iraq, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
Again expresses its special alarm at all internal embargoes which permit essentially no exceptions for humanitarian needs and which prevent the equitable enjoyment of basic foodstuffs and medical supplies, and calls upon Iraq, which has sole responsibility in this regard, to remove them and to take steps to cooperate with international humanitarian agencies in the provision of relief to those in need throughout Iraq. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1995/76, 8 March 1995, § 10, voting record: 31-1-21.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 2005 on technical cooperation and advisory services in Nepal, the UN Commission on Human Rights:
4. Strongly condemns the repeated practices of members of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist), such as:
(c) Attempts to blockade Kathmandu and other urban areas with a view to cutting off supplies of food and other essential supplies to the civilian population. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 2005/78, 20 April 2005, § 4(c), adopted without a vote.
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1995 on the situation of human rights in Iraq, the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights expressed its concern about “the serious deterioration of the health and nutritional situation from which the majority of citizens with limited income suffer as victims of the international embargo”. The Sub-Commission was also deeply concerned by “the internal embargo maintained by the Government against the Kurdish population in the north of Iraq and the Arab Shiah population in the southern marshlands”. It called upon the government “to cease its internal embargo … and to re-establish the electricity supply to both regions”. 
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1995/3, 18 August 1995, preamble and § 6.
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights
In a resolution adopted in 1996 on the situation of human rights in Iraq, the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights expressed its concern about “the serious deterioration of the health and nutritional situation from which the majority of citizens with limited income suffer as victims of the international embargo”. The Sub-Commission further called upon the Iraqi Government “to cease its internal embargo against the north and the Shiah populations in the south, areas which are both still under siege, and to re-establish the electricity supply to both regions”. 
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1996/5, 19 August 1996, preamble and § 4.
UN Commission on Human Rights (Special Rapporteur)
In 1993, in a report on the situation of human rights in the territory of the former Yugoslavia, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights included in the recommendations that “blockades of cities and enclaves should be ended immediately and humanitarian corridors opened”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights in the Former Yugoslavia, Fifth periodic report, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1994/47, 17 November 1993, § 94(b).
UN Commission on Human Rights (Special Rapporteur)
In 1996, in a report on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur of the UN Commission on Human Rights included a section on violations of the right to life during armed conflicts. In the report, he expressed his alarm that “many thousands of people not participating in armed confrontations have lost their lives as direct victims of conflicts … or indirectly as a consequence of blocking of the flow of water, food and medical supplies”. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions, Report, UN Doc. E/CN.4/1997/60, 24 December 1996, § 40.
Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1994 on the humanitarian situation and needs of the displaced Iraqi Kurdish population, the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly called upon the Iraqi Government to “put an immediate end to … its embargo on the supplies to the region”. 
Council of Europe, Parliamentary Assembly, Res. 1022, 27 January 1994, § 6.
Economic Community of West African States
In 1990, ECOWAS sent a peacekeeping contingent, ECOMOG, to Liberia. The National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) fought against ECOMOG and controlled a considerable part of Liberia. In order to compel the NPFL to surrender, ECOWAS imposed a blockade on all parts of Liberia under the control of the NPFL. 
Kofi Oteng Kufuor, “Starvation as a method of warfare in the Liberian conflict”, NILR, Vol. 41, 1994, p. 317.
ECOWAS cut off food supplies to the NPFL, arguing that relief convoys were used by the NPFL to smuggle arms and ammunition into Liberia. 
ECOWAS, Comments reported in Africa Research Bulletin (Political Series), Vol. 30, No. 5, 1993, p. 11015.
Although this allegation was denied and the blockade was claimed to have caused considerable deprivation and hardship to the civilian population, ECOWAS maintained this siege until the Cotonou Agreement on Liberia was concluded in 1993. 
Kofi Oteng Kufuor, “Starvation as a method of warfare in the Liberian conflict”, NILR, Vol. 41, 1994, p. 317.
OIC Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs
In a resolution adopted in 1994 on the Palestinian cause and the Arab-Israeli conflict, the OIC Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs strongly condemned Israeli practices in the occupied territories. Among the practices condemned was the blockade of Al-Qods Al-Sharif. 
OIC, Conference of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Res. 1/7-P (IS), 13–15 December 1994.
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