Related Rule
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 65. Perfidy
The UK Military Manual (1958) states:
Good faith, as expressed in the observance of promises, is essential in war, for without it hostilities could not be terminated with any degree of safety short of the total destruction of one of the contending parties.
The borderline between legitimate ruses and forbidden treachery has varied at different times, and it is difficult to lay down hard and fast rules in the matter. Many of the doubtful cases, however, which arose at a time when, from the nature of their weapons, troops could only engage at close range, can now seldom or never occur. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, §§ 308 and 310.
The manual also notes, in connection with the requirements to be granted the status of combatant, that irregular troops “should have been warned against the employment of treachery”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 95.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states that treachery “means tricking an enemy into believing that he is entitled to, or required to give, protection under international law, with intent to betray that confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(a); see also Annex A, p. 46, § 4.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
Perfidy is defined as “acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.1.
In its chapter on maritime warfare, the manual states:
Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead it to believe that it is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, constitute perfidy. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 13.83.
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states:
The definition of perfidy in paragraph 5.9.1 [relating to international armed conflicts, quoted above] may also be used as guidance as to the meaning of “treachery” in internal armed conflicts. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 15.12.1.
A training video on IHL produced by the UK Ministry of Defence describes as “complicated” the difference between ruses and treachery. 
United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Training Video: The Geneva Conventions, 1986, Report on UK Practice, 1997, Chapter 2.4.
The UK Military Manual (1958) states: “It is expressly forbidden by the [1907 Hague Regulations] to kill or wound by treachery individuals belonging to the opposing State or army.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 311.
The manual also states:
Assassination, the killing or wounding of a selected individual behind the line of battle by enemy agents or partisans, and the killing or wounding by treachery of individuals belonging to the opposing nation or army, are not lawful acts of war. The perpetrator of such an act has to claim to be treated as a combatant, but should be put on trial as a war criminal. If prior information of an intended assassination or other act of treachery should reach the government on whose behalf the act is to be committed, that government should endeavour to prevent its being carried out.
It is not forbidden to send a detachment or individual members of the armed forces to kill, by sudden attack, members or a member of the enemy armed forces.
In view of the prohibition of assassination, the proscription or outlawing or the putting of a price on the head of an enemy individual or any offer for an enemy “dead or alive” is forbidden.
The prohibition extends to offers of rewards for the killing or wounding of all enemies, or of a class of enemy persons, e.g., officers … Offers of rewards for the capture unharmed of enemy personnel generally or of particular enemy personnel would seem to be lawful …
How far do the above rules apply to armed conflicts not of an international character occurring in the territory of a State, e.g., a civil war or large scale armed insurrection? The acts which are prohibited in such conflicts are those set out in common Art. 3 of the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions, see paras. 7 and 8. Para (1) (a) of that article forbids “murder of all kinds” in respect of persons who do not take an active part in the hostilities and those members of armed forces who have laid down their arms or who are hors de combat. If a government or military commander offers rewards for all or individual armed insurgents killed or wounded by the forces engaged in quelling the insurrection, such offers are open to the same objection as those set out above in respect of hostilities between belligerents and are probably unlawful. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 115, including footnote 2, and § 116, including footnote 1.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “It is forbidden … to kill or wound an enemy by treachery.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(a); see also Annex A, p. 46, § 4.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.
The manual further provides: “Persons who kill or wound by resort to perfidy commit war crimes and should be put on trial.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.4; see also § 13.83 (maritime warfare).
With regard to internal armed conflict, the manual states: “It is prohibited to kill or wound by resort to treachery.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 15.12.
In its chapter on enforcement of the law of armed conflict, the manual further states:
The Hague Regulations 1907 are now recognized as part of customary law. Those regulations provide that the following acts are “especially forbidden”:
b. to kill or wound treacherously individuals belonging to the hostile nation or army. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 16.27.
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xi) and (e)(ix) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
According to the UK Military Manual (1958), “it would be treachery for a soldier to sham wounded or dead and then to attack enemy soldiers who approached him without hostile intent”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 115, footnote 2; see also § 311, footnote 1.
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), “the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness” is an example of prohibited perfidy, “if done with intent to betray the enemy’s confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.2.
The UK Military Manual (1958), in connection with the requirements to be granted the status of combatant, notes in particular that irregular troops “should have been warned against the employment of treachery [and] improper conduct towards flags of truce”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 95.
The manual states: “It would be treachery for a soldier … to pretend that he had surrendered and afterwards to open fire upon or attack an enemy who was treating him as hors de combat or a prisoner.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 115, footnote 2.
The manual further states: “Surrender must not be feigned in order to take the enemy at a disadvantage when he advances to secure his prisoners.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 318.
The manual also stresses: “Abuse of a flag of truce constitutes gross perfidy and entitles the injured party to take reprisals or to try the offenders if captured.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 417.
Moreover, the manual states: “In addition to the ‘grave breaches’ of the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions, … the following are examples of punishable violations of the laws of war, or war crimes: … treacherous request for quarter.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 626(a).
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) gives “the feigning of an intent to surrender” as an example of treachery. 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(a).
The Pamphlet also states: “Abuse of the white flag is treachery.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Annex A, p. 46, § 5.
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), “the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of surrender” is an example of prohibited perfidy, “if done with intent to betray the enemy’s confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.2.
In its chapter on negotiations between belligerents, the manual further explains:
It is forbidden to make improper use of a flag of truce. Thus, a feigned intention to negotiate or surrender with the intention of using the white flag as cover for the collection of information might amount to the war crime of perfidy whatever the consequences. It would amount to a grave breach of Additional Protocol I if it resulted in death or serious injury. A parlementaire who abuses his position in this way can be taken as a prisoner of war and tried. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 10.5–10.5.2 and 10.10.1.
In its chapter on maritime warfare, the manual states that launching an attack while feigning surrender is an example of perfidy. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 13.83.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
At the Battle of Goose Green during the War in the South Atlantic, Argentine soldiers raised a white flag. As UK soldiers moved forward to accept the surrender, they were fired on and killed from a neighbouring position, probably in the confusion. 
Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle of the Falklands, W. W. Norton & Company, London, 1983, p. 247; Geoffrey Best, War and Law Since 1945, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1997, p. 292; Christopher Greenwood, Scope of Application of Humanitarian Law, in Dieter Fleck (ed.), The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1995, § 223; Martin Middlebrook, Task Force: The Falklands War, 1982, Penguin Books, 1988, pp. 269-270.
In 2003, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Defence stated:
Coalition commanders have expressed considerable concern about the practice – which we have seen on more than one occasion – of Iraqi soldiers apparently surrendering but then attacking the forces to whom they appeared to be surrendering. That is clearly a serious breach of the Geneva convention and one that we will continue to highlight when appropriate. 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Hansard, 26 March 2003, Vol. 402, Debates, col. 298.
The UK Military Manual (1958), in connection with the requirements for being granted the status of combatant, notes in particular that irregular troops “should have been warned against the employment of treachery [and] improper conduct towards flags of truce”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 95.
The manual considers it a legitimate ruse “to utilise an informal suspension of arms for the purpose of collecting wounded and dead … to execute movements unseen by the enemy”. For instance, it notes an incident during the Russo-Japanese War of 1905, in which a group of Russians under the protection of the white flag and the red cross emblem advanced towards the Japanese army and asked for a suspension of arms to collect the wounded and the dead. It then used the occasion to withdraw completely. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 319, including footnote 1.
The manual condemns as unlawful the use of a “white flag for the purpose of making the enemy believe that a parlementaire is about to be sent when there is no such intention, and to carry out operations under the protection granted by the enemy to the pretended flag of truce”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law , The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 416.
The manual states: “Abuse of a flag of truce constitutes gross perfidy and entitles the injured party to take reprisals or to try the offenders if captured.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 417.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) provides: “Abuse of the white flag is treachery.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Annex A, p. 46, § 5.
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
It is forbidden to make improper use of a flag of truce. Thus, a feigned intention to negotiate or surrender with the intention of using the white flag as cover for the collection of information might amount to the war crime of perfidy whatever the consequences. It would amount to a grave breach of Additional Protocol I if it resulted in death or serious injury. A parlementaire who abuses his position in this way can be taken as a prisoner of war and tried. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 10.10.1.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
A training video on IHL produced by the UK Ministry of Defence emphasizes that it constitutes treachery to fire under the cover of protection of the flag of truce. 
United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Training Video: The Geneva Conventions, 1986, Report on UK Practice, 1997, Chapter 2.2.
The UK Military Manual (1958) states: “Abuse of the distinctive sign for the purpose of offensive military action is a violation both of [the 1949 Geneva Convention I], and of the laws of war in general.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 379.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states that the “feigning of non-combatant status” is an example of treachery. 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(a).
The Pamphlet specifies that “medical personnel, chaplains and civilians accompanying the armed forces are non-combatants”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 3, p. 10, § 8(a).
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “The wrongful use of a distinctive emblem may constitute perfidy and thus a war crime.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 7.24.1.
In its chapter relating to the wounded and sick, the manual states: “The improper use of medical units to kill, injure or capture the enemy amounts to the war crime of perfidy.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 7.13.
In its chapter on enforcement of the law of armed conflict, the manual notes:
Additional Protocol I extends the definition of grave breaches to include the following:
b. any of the following acts, when committed wilfully, in violation of the relevant provisions of the protocol, and causing death or serious injury to body or health:
(6) the perfidious use of the distinctive emblem of the red cross, red crescent or of other protective signs recognized by the Conventions or the Protocol. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 16.25.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), “the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations” is an example of prohibited perfidy, “if done with intent to betray the enemy’s confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.2.
In its chapter on maritime warfare, the manual states that launching an attack while feigning protected United Nations status is an example of perfidy. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 13.83.
In its chapter on the application of the law of armed conflict during peace-support operations, the manual states:
The parties to an armed conflict are prohibited to make use of the emblem of the United Nations except as authorized by the United Nations. In addition, it is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by feigning protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations and to do so constitutes the war crime of perfidy. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 14.13.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states in its chapter on enforcement of the law of armed conflict:
Additional Protocol I extends the definition of grave breaches to include the following:
b. any of the following acts, when committed wilfully, in violation of the relevant provisions of the protocol, and causing death or serious injury to body or health:
(6) the perfidious use of the distinctive emblem of the red cross, red crescent or of other protective signs recognized by the Conventions or the Protocol. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 16.25.
The UK Military Manual (1958) describes as treacherous the use of false assurances followed by firing, noting that this “device is often accompanied by the use of enemy uniforms or civilian clothing”. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 311, footnote 1.
Furthermore, the manual states: “In addition to the ‘grave breaches’ of the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions, … the following are examples of punishable violations of the laws of war, or war crimes: … use of civilian clothing … by troops engaged in battle.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 626(f).
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states that the “feigning of non-combatant status” is an example of treachery. 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(a).
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), “the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status” is an example of prohibited perfidy, “if done with intent to betray the enemy’s confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.2.
In its chapter on air operations, the manual states: “Military and auxiliary aircraft are prohibited at all times from feigning exempt, civilian or neutral status.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 12.54–12.54.1.
In its chapter on maritime warfare, the manual states that launching an attack while feigning civilian status is an example of perfidy. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 13.83.
According to the UK LOAC Manual (2004), “the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of … neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict” is an example of prohibited perfidy “if done with intent to betray the enemy’s confidence”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.9.2.
In its chapter on air operations, the manual states:
Article 19 of the Hague Rules 1923 prohibited the use of false external marks on aircraft. Additional Protocol I now prohibits the use at any time by any party to a conflict of the flags, military emblems, insignia or uniforms of neutral or other states not party to the conflict. The use of flags, military emblems, insignia or uniforms of an adverse party is prohibited “while engaging in attacks or in order to shield, favour or impede military operations”. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 12.10.4.
The manual further states: “Military and auxiliary aircraft are prohibited at all times from feigning exempt, civilian or neutral status.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 12.54–12.54.1.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1995, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1995, Section 1(1).