Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
South Africa’s LOAC Manual (1996) states that “attacking clearly recognised historic monuments, works of art or places of worship and causing extensive damage where these objects have not been used in support of the military effort” constitutes a grave breach of IHL.
South Africa’s Revised Civic Education Manual (2004) states: “Protected places include … buildings dedicated to religion [and] cultural objects such as historical monuments. Misuse of protected places for military purposes may make them the subject of an armed attack”.
The manual also provides that “[a]ny unlawful attack on a clearly recognised protected object” is a grave breach of the law of armed conflict and a war crime.
South Africa’s ICC Act (2002) reproduces the war crimes listed in the 1998 ICC Statute, including in both international and non-international armed conflicts: “intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to religion, education, art, science or charitable purposes, [or] historic monuments… provided they are not military objectives”.