Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Section B. Orders and instructions to ensure respect for international humanitarian law
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
In their service activities commanding officers shall be guided by generally accepted principles and rules of international humanitarian law that oblige them:
a) in peace time:
- to organize and be personally involved in the dissemination of international humanitarian law amongst the subordinated personnel; to ensure that it is studied within the process of training and education of servicemen drawing their attention to the fact that the legislation of the Russian Federation provides for criminal responsibility for some breaches of international humanitarian law;
- to constantly maintain law and order and stern military discipline thus ensuring that the subordinates strictly observe the rules of international humanitarian law in the event of armed conflict;
- to invite the commander’s assistant on legal matters acting as the legal advisor in the event of armed conflict to take part in organizing combat training;
- to supervise the training of medical personnel and legal service officers related to studying and carrying out the rules of international humanitarian law;
b) in the event of armed conflict:
- to set an example in the respect of international humanitarian law rules;
- to ensure knowledge and strict respect of international humanitarian law by the subordinated personnel;
- to repress violations of international humanitarian law by the subordinated personnel, if any, call to account the offenders and report to the superior commander.
The Russian Federation’s Combat Manual (2005) states:
When carrying out an assigned mission, every commander, within the framework of his responsibilities, must take into account the norms of international humanitarian law, and when making a decision, must ensure that they are respected by his subordinates.
The Internal Service Regulations of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (2007) provides:
General Obligations of Commanders (Superiors)
77. … In the course of carrying out combat missions by a military unit, the commander (superior) guided by requirements of field manuals, must take measures aimed at respecting IHL rules and bring to disciplinary responsibility those guilty of breaching them. In the event of discovering constituent elements of criminal offence in the actions (omissions) of his subordinates, the commander of the unit shall institute criminal proceedings, in accordance with the legislation of the Russian Federation.
83. A commander (superior) must improve his personal professional level of training and methods of management of a unit:
- know the normative legal acts of the Russian Federation within the limits of the legal minimum and IHL rules and act in strict compliance therewith, and to demand that his subordinates respect them.
In its Order on the Publication of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols (1990), the Russian Ministry of Defence required “the implementation of the instructions concerning the application of the rules of international humanitarian law by the armed forces of the USSR” annexed to the said order, i.e. the Russian Federation’s Military Manual.