Practice Relating to Rule 37. Open Towns and Non-Defended Localities
Section C. Attacks on open towns and non-defended localities
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) recalls: “The law of armed conflict forbids attack by any means of undefended places.”
The manual provides:
A locality which ceases to fulfil the conditions laid down for it to qualify as an undefended place, loses its status, but remains protected by the other rules of armed conflict relating to bombardment, attack, means and methods of combat, and the like.
The manual further states that “making non-defended localities … the object of attack” constitutes a grave breach of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
New Zealand’s Geneva Conventions Act (1958), as amended in 1987, provides:
Any person who in New Zealand or elsewhere commits, or aids or abets or procures the commission by another person of, a grave breach … of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] is guilty of an indictable offence.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crime defined in Article 8(2)(b)(v) of the 1998 ICC Statute.