Related Rule
United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 97. Human Shields
The US Air Force Commander’s Handbook (1980) states: “Civilians should never be deliberately used to shield military operations or to protect objectives from attack.” 
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, § 3-1(4).
The US Instructor’s Guide (1985) states: “In addition to the grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions, the following acts are further examples of war crimes: … using an enemy prisoner of war as point man on patrol”. 
United States, Instructor’s Guide – The Law of War, Headquarters Department of the Army, Washington, April 1985, p. 13.
The US Naval Handbook (1995) prohibits the “deliberate use of non combatants to shield military objectives from enemy attacks”. 
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), § 11-2.
The US Manual for Military Commissions (2007), Part IV, Crimes and Elements, includes in the list of crimes triable by military commissions:
USING PROTECTED PERSONS AS A SHIELD.
a. Text. “Any person subject to this chapter who positions, or otherwise takes advantage of, a protected person with the intent to shield a military objective from attack, or to shield, favor, or impede military operations, shall be punished, if death results to one or more of the victims, by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct, and, if death does not result to any of the victims, by such punishment, other than death, as a military commission under this chapter may direct.”
b. Elements.
(1) The accused positioned or took advantage of the location of a protected person;
(2) The accused did so with the intent to shield a military objective from attack or to shield, favor, or impede military operations; and
(3) The act took place in the context of and was associated with armed conflict.
c. Maximum punishment. Death, if the death of any person occurs as a result of the use of a protected person as a shield. Otherwise, confinement for life. 
United States, Manual for Military Commissions, published in implementation of the Military Commissions Act of 2006, 10 U.S.C. §§ 948a, et seq., 18 January 2007, Part IV, § 6(9), pp. IV-7 and IV-8.
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Deliberate use of civilians to shield military objectives from enemy attack is prohibited.” 
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, § 8.3.2.
The US Manual for Military Commissions (2010), Part IV, Crimes and Elements, includes in the list of crimes triable by military commissions:
USING PROTECTED PERSONS AS A SHIELD.
a. Text. “Any person subject to this chapter who positions, or otherwise takes advantage of, a protected person with the intent to shield a military objective from attack, or to shield, favor, or impede military operations, shall be punished, if death results to one or more of the victims, by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct, and, if death does not result to any of the victims, by such punishment, other than death, as a military commission under this chapter may direct.”
b. Elements.
(1) The accused positioned or took advantage of the location of a protected person;
(2) The accused did so with the intent to shield a military objective from attack or to shield, favor, or impede military operations; and
(3) The act took place in the context of and was associated with hostilities.
c. Maximum punishment. Death, if the death of any person occurs as a result of the use of a protected person as a shield. Otherwise, confinement for life. 
United States, Manual for Military Commissions, published in implementation of Chapter 47A of Title 10, United States Code, as amended by the Military Commissions Act of 2009, 10 U.S.C, §§ 948a, et seq., 27 April 2010, § 5(9), p. IV-8.
The US Military Commissions Act (2006), passed by Congress following the Supreme Court’s decision in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld in 2006, amends Title 10 of the United States Code as follows:
§ 950v. Crimes triable by military commissions
“ …
“(b) OFFENSES.—The following offenses shall be triable by military commission under this chapter at any time without limitation:
“ …
“(9) USING PROTECTED PERSONS AS A SHIELD.—Any person subject to this chapter who positions, or otherwise takes advantage of, a protected person with the intent to shield a military objective from attack, or to shield, favor, or impede military operations, shall be punished, if death results to one or more of the victims, by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct, and, if death does not result to any of the victims, by such punishment, other than death, as a military commission under this chapter may direct. 
United States, Military Commissions Act, 2006, Public Law 109-366, Chapter 47A of Title 10 of the United States Code, 17 October 2006, p. 120 Stat. 2626, § 950v(b)(9).
The US Military Commissions Act (2009) amends Chapter 47A of Title 10 of the United States Code as follows:
§ 950t. Crimes triable by military commission
“The following offenses shall be triable by military commission under this chapter at any time without limitation:
“ …
“(9) USING PROTECTED PERSONS AS A SHIELD.—Any person subject to this chapter who positions, or otherwise takes advantage of, a protected person with the intent to shield a military objective from attack, or to shield, favor, or impede military operations, shall be punished, if death results to one or more of the victims, by death or such other punishment as a military commission under this chapter may direct, and, if death does not result to any of the victims, by such punishment, other than death, as a military commission under this chapter may direct. 
United States, Military Commissions Act, 2009, § 950t(9).
In its judgment in the Von Leeb case (The German High Command Trial) in 1948, the US Military Tribunal at Nuremberg held that “to use prisoners of war as a shield for the troops is contrary to international law”. 
United States, Military Tribunal at Nuremberg, Von Leeb case (The German High Command Trial), Judgment, 28 October 1948.
In 1950 and 1966, during the Korean and Vietnam wars respectively, the United States protested against the use of civilians as human shields. 
United States, Statement by the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, 6 September 1950, reprinted in Marjorie Whiteman, Digest of International Law, Vol. 10, Department of State Publication 8367, Washington, D.C., 1968, pp. 139–141; Statement by the Secretary of Defence, Robert McNamara, 2 February 1966, reprinted in Marjorie Whiteman, Digest of International Law, Vol. 10, Department of State Publication 8367, Washington, D.C., 1968, pp. 426–428.
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State affirmed: “We also support the principle that the civilian population not be used to shield military objectives or operations from attack.” 
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 1990, during a debate in the UN Security Council concerning the crisis in the Gulf, the United States stated: “It is contrary to international law and to all the norms of Arab hospitality to use guests as military shields.” 
United States, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.2937, 18 August 1990, p. 12.
In 1991, in response to an ICRC Memorandum on the Applicability of IHL in the Gulf Region, the United States emphasized the duty of a force which has control over a civilian population to ensure it is located in a safe place. It also stated: “In no case may a combatant force utilize individual civilians or the civilian population to shield a military objective from attack.”  
United States, Message from the Department of the Army to the legal adviser of the US Army forces deployed in the Gulf, 11 January 1991, Report on US Practice, 1997, Chapter 1.4.
In 1991, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council concerning operations in the Gulf War, the United States protested against “the announcement of the intention of the Government of Iraq … to use [prisoners of war] as human shields in flagrant violation of the Third Geneva Convention of 1949”. 
United States, Letter dated 21 January 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22122, 21 January 1991.
In 1991, in a diplomatic note to Iraq concerning operations in the Gulf War, the United States stated:
Baghdad radio has reported that the Government of Iraq intends to locate United States and other coalition POWs [prisoners of war] in Iraq at likely strategic targets of coalition forces. The United States strongly protests the Government of Iraq’s threat to so endanger POWs.
If the Government of Iraq places coalition POWs at military targets in Iraq, then the Government of Iraq will be in violation of the Third Geneva Convention, and Iraqi officials … will have committed a serious war crime. 
United States, Department of State, Diplomatic Note to Iraq, Washington, 21 January 1991, annexed to Letter dated 22 January 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/2213022, January 1991, p. 4.
In January 1991, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the United States stated: “Baghdad radio has subsequently reported that the Government of Iraq intends to locate United States and other coalition POWs [prisoners of war] at strategic sites that may be subject to attack. This is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.” 
United States, Letter dated 22 January 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22130, 22 January 1991, p. 2.
In January 1991, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the United States stated:
Iraqi authorities … have reportedly used United States and other allied POWs [prisoners of war] as “human shields” in direct violation of the Third Geneva Convention … Such treatment is outrageous and Iraq must understand that such actions constitute war crimes. 
United States, Letter dated 30 January 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22173, 30 January 1991, p. 2.
In January 1991, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the United States denounced Iraq’s disregard for the norms of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including the deliberate exposure of prisoners of war to the dangers of combat. 
United States, Letter dated 8 February 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22216, 13 February 1991.
In March 1991, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the United States listed some of the practices by which the Iraqi Government put civilians at risk by “moving significant amounts of military weapons and equipment into civilian areas with the deliberate purpose of using innocent civilians and their homes as shields against attacks on legitimate military targets”. 
United States, Letter dated 5 March 1991 to the President of the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/22341, 8 March 1991.
In 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defense stated: “US and other hostages in Iraq, including civilians forcibly deported from Kuwait, were placed in or around military targets as ‘human shields’, in violation of Articles 28 and 38(4) [of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV].” 
United States, Department of Defense, Final Report to Congress on the Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, 10 April 1992, Appendix O, The Role of the Law of War, ILM, Vol. 31, 10 April 1992, pp. 618 and 634.
The report further noted some specific Iraqi war crimes including “using POWs [prisoners of war] as a shield to render certain points immune from military operations, in violation of Article 23 [of the 1949 Geneva Convention III]”. 
United States, Department of Defense, Final Report to Congress on the Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, 10 April 1992, Appendix O, The Role of the Law of War, ILM, Vol. 31, 10 April 1992, p. 635.
In 1993, in its report on the protection of natural and cultural resources during times of war, the US Department of Defense stated:
In conflicts such as the Korean and Vietnam War, as well as the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the armed forces of the United States have faced opponents who have elected to use their civilian populations and civilian objects to shield military objectives from attack. 
United States, Department of Defense, Report to Congress on International Policies and Procedures regarding the Protection of Natural and Cultural Resources during Times of War, 19 January 1993, p. 203.
In 2000, the US Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues stated:
Articles 51 and 58 of [the 1977 Additional] Protocol I quite properly articulate the principle that a party on the defensive cannot intentionally use civilian noncombatants or civilian property to shield military targets. In one sense, this is simply a refinement of the protected status that civilians and their property enjoy under the laws of armed conflict. The law has now been clear that the failure of one party to abide by the full range of the law of armed conflict does not relieve the other party of its legal obligations. 
United States, David J. Scheffer, Ambassador at Large for War Crimes Issues, Address to I Corps Soldiers and Commanders Fort Lewis entitled “Ambassadors for Freedom”, Washington, 4 May 2000, pp. 5–6.