Related Rule
United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 147. Reprisals against Protected Objects
The US Field Manual (1956), referring to Article 13 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III and Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, states: “Reprisals against the persons or property of prisoners of war, including the wounded and sick, and protected civilians are forbidden.” 
United States, Field Manual 27-10, The Law of Land Warfare, US Department of the Army, 18 July 1956, as modified by Change No. 1, 15 July 1976, § 497(c).
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976), referring to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, provides:
No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. Reprisals against protected persons and their property are prohibited. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 10-7(b)(1).
The Pamphlet further provides:
Reprisals are forbidden, under all circumstances, against the persons or objects referenced above in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. At least some, and possibly all, of these prohibitions are regarded as customary law and are binding regardless of whether the adversary is a party to the Geneva Conventions. For definitions as to persons or objects protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, applicable articles of those documents must be consulted. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 10-7(b)(2).
The US Air Force Commander’s Handbook (1980), under the heading “Persons and Things Not Subject to Reprisals”, lists a number of persons and objects protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions against whom reprisals are prohibited. It adds, however:
A Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions would expand this list to include all civilians and civilian property on land … The United States signed this Protocol in 1977, but has not yet ratified it. Consult the Staff Judge Advocate for further guidance. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-34, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Armed Conflict, Judge Advocate General, US Department of the Air Force, 25 July 1980, § 8-4(c).
The US Soldier’s Manual (1984), in the part which deals with the treatment of civilians and private property, states: “The Geneva Conventions forbid retaliating against civilians for the actions of enemy soldiers.” 
United States, Your Conduct in Combat under the Law of War, Publication No. FM 27-2, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, November 1984, p. 23.
The US Operational Law Handbook (1993) provides:
The following measures are expressly prohibited by the law of war and are not excusable on the basis of military necessity:
m. Reprisals against persons or property protected by the Geneva Conventions, to include the wounded, sick, or shipwrecked, prisoners of war, detained personnel, civilians [and] their property. 
United States, Operational Law Handbook, JA 422, Center for Law and Military Operations and International Law Division, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1781, 1993, p. Q-182.
The US Naval Handbook (1995) provides: “Reprisals may be taken against enemy armed forces, enemy civilians other than those in occupied territory, and enemy property.” It states, however: “Reprisals are forbidden to be taken against: 1. … interned civilians … 3. Civilians in occupied territory.” 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-2.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Transportation, US Coast Guard, October 1995 (formerly NWP 9 (Rev. A)/FMFM 1-10, October 1989, § 6.2.3.
The Annotated Supplement to the US Naval Handbook (1997), referring to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, states: “Also immune from reprisals under the Geneva Conventions are the property of such inhabitants [i.e. of occupied territory], enemy civilians in a belligerent’s own territory, and the property of such civilians.” 
United States, Annotated Supplement to the Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, prepared by the Oceans Law and Policy Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, November 1997, § 6.2.3.1, footnote 43.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Reprisals may be taken against … enemy property.” 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-12.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, July 2007, § 6.2.4.
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State affirmed that the United States did not support “the prohibition on reprisals in article 51 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and subsequent articles” and did not consider it part of customary law. 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 426.
According to an army lawyer who participated in the review of the 1977 Additional Protocol I by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff:
Article 51, paragraph 6, and article 52, paragraph 1, of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] prohibit reprisals against the civilian population or civilian objects of en enemy nation, respectively. These provisions are not a codification of customary international law, but, in fact, a reversal of that law. The military review considered whether surrender of these rights would advance the law of war, or threaten the continued respect for the rule of law in war. It was concluded that removal of this legal right placed any further respect for the rule of law by certain nations in jeopardy …
The American review recognized the historic pattern for abuse of U.S. and allied prisoners of war by their enemies, and concluded that a broad reservation to the prohibition of reprisals contained in articles 51 and 52 of [the 1977 Additional Protocol I] was essential as a legitimate enforcement mechanism in order to ensure respect for the law of war. 
W. Hays Parks, Air War and the Law of War, Air Force Law Review, Vol. 32, No. 1, 1990, pp. 94 and 97.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States stated:
Various provisions of Additional Protocol I contain prohibitions on reprisals against specific types of persons or objects, including … civilian objects (Article 52(1)) … These are among the new rules established by the Protocol that … do not apply to nuclear weapons. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976), referring to Article 46 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I and Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention III, provides:
Reprisals against the … buildings or equipment protected by [the 1949 Geneva Convention I] are prohibited … Reprisals against … the vessels or the equipment protected by [the 1949 Geneva Convention II] are prohibited. No protected person may be punished for an offence he or she has not personally committed. Collective penalties and likewise all measures of intimidation or of terrorism are prohibited. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 10-7(b)(1).
The Pamphlet further states:
Reprisals are forbidden, under all circumstances, against the persons or objects referenced above in accordance with the 1949 Geneva Conventions. At least some, and possibly all, of these prohibitions are regarded as customary law and are binding regardless of whether the adversary is a party to the Geneva Conventions. For definitions as to persons or objects protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, applicable articles of those documents must be consulted. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 10-7(b)(2).
The US Air Force Commander’s Handbook (1980), under the heading “Persons and Things Not Subject to Reprisals”, states: “Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, reprisals may not be directed against hospitals.” 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-34, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Armed Conflict, Judge Advocate General, US Department of the Air Force, 25 July 1980, § 8-4(c).
The US Operational Law Handbook (1993) provides: “The following measures are expressly prohibited by the law of war and are not excusable on the basis of military necessity: … m. Reprisals against persons or property protected by the Geneva Conventions.” 
United States, Operational Law Handbook, JA 422, Center for Law and Military Operations and International Law Division, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1781, 1993, p. Q-182.
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states: “Reprisals are forbidden to be taken against: … 4. Hospitals and medical facilities … and equipment, including hospital ships, medical aircraft, and medical vehicles.” 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-2.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Transportation, US Coast Guard, October 1995 (formerly NWP 9 (Rev. A)/FMFM 1-10, October 1989), § 6.2.3.2.
The Annotated Supplement to the US Naval Handbook (1997), referring to Article 46 of the 1949 Geneva Convention I and Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention II, states: “Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the medical service, hospital ships, coastal rescue craft and their installations, medical transports, and medical aircraft are immune from reprisal.” 
United States, Annotated Supplement to the Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, prepared by the Oceans Law and Policy Department, Center for Naval Warfare Studies, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, November 1997, § 6.2.3.2, footnote 50.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Reprisals are forbidden to be taken against: … 4. Hospitals and medical facilities … and equipment, including hospital ships, medical aircraft, and medical vehicles.” 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-12.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, July 2007, § 6.2.4.2.
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, referring to Articles 12–20 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, affirmed:
We … support the principle that medical units, including properly authorized civilian medical units, be respected and protected at all times and not be the object of attacks or reprisals … Further, we support the principle that the relevant provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions be applied to all properly authorized medical vehicles, hospital ships, and other medical ships and craft, regardless of the identity of the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked that they serve. This is, in effect, a distillation of much of what appears in articles 18 through 23 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I]. 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 423.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States noted that it considered that the provisions of the 1977 Additional Protocol I regarding reprisals were “new rules”. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) provides: “Reprisals against protected cultural property are not taken because of their questionable legality.” 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 10-7(b)(2).
The US Air Force Commander’s Handbook (1980), under the heading “Persons and Things Not Subject to Reprisals”, lists a number of persons and objects protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions against whom reprisals are prohibited. It adds, however:
A Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions would expand this list to include … cultural property … The United States signed this Protocol in 1977, but has not yet ratified it. Consult the Staff Judge Advocate for further guidance. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-34, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Armed Conflict, Judge Advocate General, US Department of the Air Force, 25 July 1980, § 8-4(c).
The US Operational Law Handbook (1993) provides:
The following measures are expressly prohibited by the law of war and are not excusable on the basis of military necessity:
m. Reprisals against … religious or cultural edifices. 
United States, Operational Law Handbook, JA 422, Center for Law and Military Operations and International Law Division, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1781, 1993, p. Q-182.
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State stated that the United States did not support “the prohibition on reprisals in article 51 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] and subsequent articles” and did not consider it part of customary law.  
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 426.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States stated:
Various provisions of Additional Protocol I contain prohibitions on reprisals against specific types of persons or objects, including … cultural objects and places of worship (Article 53(c)) … These are among the new rules established by the Protocol that … do not apply to nuclear weapons. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.
The US Operational Law Handbook (1993) provides:
The following measures are expressly prohibited by the law of war and are not excusable on the basis of military necessity:
m. Reprisals against … items such as food stuffs and livestock essential to the survival of the civilian population. 
United States, Operational Law Handbook, JA 422, Center for Law and Military Operations and International Law Division, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903-1781, 1993, p. Q-182.
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State stated that the United States did not support “the prohibition on reprisals in article 51 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and subsequent articles” and did not consider it part of customary law. 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 426.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States stated:
Various provisions of Additional Protocol I contain prohibitions on reprisals against specific types of persons or objects, including … objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population (Article 54(4)) … These are among the new rules established by the Protocol that … do not apply to nuclear weapons. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.
The US Air Force Commander’s Handbook (1980), under the heading “Persons and Things Not Subject to Reprisals”, lists a number of persons and objects protected under the 1949 Geneva Conventions against whom reprisals are prohibited. It adds, however: “A Protocol to the 1949 Geneva Conventions would expand this list to include … the natural environment. The United States signed this Protocol in 1977, but has not yet ratified it. Consult the Staff Judge Advocate for further guidance.” 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-34, Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Armed Conflict, Judge Advocate General, US Department of the Air Force, 25 July 1980, § 8-4(c).
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State stated that the United States did not support “the prohibition on reprisals in article 51 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] and subsequent articles” and did not consider it part of customary law. 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 426.
In 1992, prior to the adoption of a UN General Assembly resolution on the protection of the environment in times of armed conflict, Jordan and the United States submitted a memorandum entitled “International Law Providing Protection to the Environment in Times of Armed Conflict” which provided, inter alia:
For States parties the following principles of international law, as applicable, provide additional protection for the environment in times of armed conflict: Article 55(2) of Additional Protocol I prohibits States parties from attacking the natural environment by way of reprisals. 
Jordan and United States, International Law Providing Protection to the Environment in Times of Armed Conflict, annexed to Letter dated 28 September 1992 to the Chairman of the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/C.6/47/3, 28 September 1992, § 2(d).
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States stated:
Various provisions of Additional Protocol I contain prohibitions on reprisals against specific types of persons or objects, including … the natural environment (Article 55(2)) … These are among the new rules established by the Protocol that … do not apply to nuclear weapons. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.
In 1987, in submitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, the US President announced his decision not to ratify the 1977 Additional Protocol I, stating, inter alia, that the Additional Protocol I “fails to improve substantially the compliance and verification mechanisms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and eliminates an important sanction against violations of those Conventions”. 
United States, Message from the US President transmitting the 1977 Additional Protocol II to the US Senate for advice and consent to ratification, Treaty Doc. 100-2, 29 January 1987.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State stated that the United States did not support “the prohibition on reprisals in article 51 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] and subsequent articles” and did not consider it part of customary law. He added that it did not support Article 56 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I and that the United States did not consider it to be customary law. 
United States, Remarks of Michael J. Matheson, Deputy Legal Adviser, US Department of State, The Sixth Annual American Red Cross-Washington College of Law Conference on International Humanitarian Law: A Workshop on Customary International Law and the 1977 Protocols Additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, American Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, pp. 426 and 427.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United States stated:
Various provisions of Additional Protocol I contain prohibitions on reprisals against specific types of persons or objects, including … works and installations containing dangerous forces (Article 56(4)). These are among the new rules established by the Protocol that … do not apply to nuclear weapons. 
United States, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 20 June 1995, p. 31.