Practice Relating to Rule 42. Works and Installations Containing Dangerous Forces
Section A. Attacks against works and installations containing dangerous forces and against military objectives located in their vicinity
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides:
1. Even though they may be military objectives, works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, are not to be attacked if the result of such an attack would be the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population. Any other military objective at or in the vicinity of such an installation is also immune from attack if the attack might cause the release of dangerous forces from the works or installations in question and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.
2. The protection afforded to such installations ceases in the case of dykes, dams and all such installations and nearby military objectives “only if they are used in regular, significant and direct support of military operations and if such attack is the only feasible way to terminate such support” and, in the case of dykes and dams, only if they are also being used for other than their normal function.
5. Although parties not accepting [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] are free to disregard this particular protective requirement, [the 1977 Additional Protocol I], confirming customary law, authorizes Parties to agree between themselves on the provision of any additional protection that they might wish to afford such works and installations.
The manual qualifies “launching an attack against works or installations containing dangerous forces in the knowledge that such attack will cause injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects” as a grave breach of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
With respect to non-international armed conflicts, the manual states:
Reflecting the new approach to technological advances and the dangers that may be inherent in them, it is forbidden to attack certain works or installations containing dangerous forces, namely dams, dykes and nuclear electrical generating stations, even if they may be regarded as military objectives, if such an attack might cause the release of dangerous forces and consequent severe losses among the civilian population.
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.