Practice Relating to Rule 36. Demilitarized Zones
Section A. Establishment of demilitarized zones
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) states, with reference to Article 60 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, that demilitarized zones can be established by military commanders of the parties to the conflict.
The manual points out that demilitarized zones, as well as non-defended localities, may be established through specific reciprocal declarations and that a unilateral declaration is not sufficient to create them.
The conditions for the setting-up of a demilitarized zone are the same as for non-defended localities, namely: all combatants as well as mobile weapons and military equipment must be evacuated; no hostile use shall be made of fixed military installations or establishments; no acts of hostility shall be committed by the authorities or by the population; any activity in support of the military effort must cease; and the zone must be marked by distinctive signs.
Switzerland’s ABC of International Humanitarian Law (2009) states:
Neutral territory is the territory of a State that is not party to a conflict and has chosen to remain neutral, either permanently or in relation to a given conflict.
Neutral territories are to be distinguished from neutral zones (neutralised zones, hospital and safety zones, and demilitarised zones) set aside within the territory of one or more parties to the conflict, for example to receive Wounded and sick
as well as Civilians