Practice Relating to Rule 59. Improper Use of the Distinctive Emblems of the Geneva Conventions
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides: “Improper use of protective symbols … is prohibited.”
The red cross, red crescent, red lion and sun and red shield of David are regarded as “protective symbols”.
The manual further states that “improperly using … the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions” is a war crime.
In the case of naval warfare, the manual states: “Flags or markings … of the Red Cross or Red Crescent may not be used as part of a ruse of war.”
The manual further provides that, in a non-international armed conflict, “the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross or Red Crescent … must not be used improperly”.
New Zealand’s Geneva Conventions Act (1958), as amended in 1987, provides that, “subject to the provisions of this section, it shall not be lawful for any person, without the authority of the Minister of Defence or a person authorised by him in writing to give consent under this section, to use for any purpose whatsoever” the emblems of the red cross, red crescent and red lion and sun on a white ground, the heraldic emblem of Switzerland, the designations “Red Cross”, “Geneva Cross”, “Red Crescent” and “Red Lion and Sun”, as well as any design or wording so nearly resembling any of those emblems or designations as to be capable of being mistaken for, or, as the case may be, understood as referring to, one of those emblems or designations.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(b)(vii) of the 1998 ICC Statute.