Practice Relating to Rule 40. Respect for Cultural Property
In 1998, an ICRC publication entitled “Spared from the Spear” recorded traditional Somali practice in warfare as follows:
[I]n any war, places of worship and religious study e.g. mosques, Koranic schools, saints’ shrines etc., were not violated. … Also, the destruction or looting of mosques and other religious places was something that had never taken place prior to the current civil war.
In 2011, in its comments on the concluding observations of the Human Rights Council concerning Somalia’s report, the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia referred to “Spared from the Spear” as its “own Geneva Conventions”:
In times of hostilities, the Biri-Ma-Geydo
(Spared from the Spear), i.e. Somalia’s own “Geneva Conventions”[,] which existed long before the adoption of the Hague and Geneva Conventions, mitigated and regulated the conduct of clan hostilities and the treatment of immune groups.