Practice Relating to Rule 48. Attacks against Persons Parachuting from an Aircraft in Distress

Additional Protocol I
Article 42 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides:
1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent.
2. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.
3. Airborne troops are not protected by this Article. 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 42. Article 42 was adopted by 71 votes in favour, 12 against and 11 abstentions. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.39, 25 May 1977, p. 110.
Additional Protocol I (draft)
Article 39(1) of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 42) submitted by the ICRC to the CDDH provided: “The occupants of aircraft in distress shall never be attacked when they are obviously hors de combat, whether or not they have abandoned the aircraft in distress.” 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. I, Part Three, Draft Additional Protocols, June 1973, p. 13.
At the CDDH, an amendment submitted by 16 Arab States aimed at inserting at the end of Article 39(1) of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 42) the proviso: “… unless it is apparent that he will land in territory controlled by the Party to which he belongs or by an ally of that Party”. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. III, CDDH/414, 24 May 1977, p. 173 (amendment proposed by Democratic Yemen, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syrian, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen).
The disagreements on Article 39 of the draft Additional Protocol I arose because some representatives considered that parachutists landing on territory controlled by their own party could not be considered hors de combat, while others believed that airmen should be immune from attacks in all circumstances. 
Yves Sandoz et al. (eds.), Commentary on the Additional Protocols, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 1636.
For example, the Egyptian representative stated:
As far as military interests were concerned, a pilot was of great value and worth hundreds of ordinary combatants; in many cases of combat, the number of pilots would determine the outcome of hostilities. A combatant of such military value was therefore, in terms of law, a legitimate target of attack, the only exception being if he had been disabled by wounds or sickness or was in a position to surrender as a prisoner of war. 
Egypt, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. XV, CDDH/III/SR.48, 1 June 1976, p. 104, § 13.
In the plenary, the ICRC made a statement calling for the rejection of the draft amendment. It declared, inter alia:
Whether an airman landed in friendly or hostile territory, whether he rejoined his unit or was taken prisoner, should remain secondary considerations …
If there had been occasions when, in exceptional circumstances, airmen in distress had been fired on, such was not the rule which prevailed in international practice. All national manuals on the conduct of hostilities said that airmen parachuting from an aircraft to save their lives were not to be fired on. The ICRC would be dismayed to see a provision making it lawful to kill an unarmed enemy who was not himself in a position to kill introduced into law which had hitherto been purely humanitarian. 
ICRC, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.39, 25 May 1977, p. 107, §§ 89–90.
The ICRC statement was supported by Austria, Belgium, Canada, Federal Republic of Germany, German Democratic Republic, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States, while Iraq, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and the Syrian Arab Republic voiced opposing views. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.39, 25 May 1977, pp. 108 and 109, § 98 (Austria), p. 109, § 99 (Belgium), p. 109, § 102 (Canada), p. 108, § 92 (Federal Republic of Germany), p. 107, § 91 (German Democratic Republic ), p. 108, §§ 96 and 97 (Iraq), p. 109, § 103 (Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) p. 108, § 93 (Sweden), p. 109, § 104 (Switzerland), p. 106, § 82 (Syrian Arab Republic), p. 108, § 94 (United Kingdom) and p. 108, § 95 (United States).
The draft amendment was eventually rejected in the plenary by 47 votes in favour, 23 against and 26 abstentions. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.39, 25 May 1977, p. 110.
Hague Rules of Air Warfare
Article 20 of the 1923 Hague Rules of Air Warfare provides: “In the event of an aircraft being disabled, the persons trying to escape by means of parachutes must not be attacked during their descent.” 
Rules concerning the Control of Wireless Telegraphy in Time of War and Air Warfare, Part II, drafted by a Commission of Jurists, The Hague, December 1922–February 1923, Article 20.
Argentina
Argentina’s Law of War Manual (1969) provides:
It is prohibited to open fire at persons who descend by parachute from aircraft in technical emergency. This prohibition, however, does not apply to members of airborne units and to any other parachutist descending on enemy territory on hostile mission. 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, RC-46-1, Público, II Edición 1969, Ejército Argentino, Edición original aprobado por el Comandante en Jefe del Ejército, 9 May 1967, § 1.009.
Argentina
Argentina’s Law of War Manual (1989) states:
It is prohibited … to attack persons bailing out with parachutes from an aircraft in distress … When reaching the ground, they must be offered the opportunity to surrender before being attacked, unless they commit hostile acts. This rule does not apply to airborne troops. 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, PC-08-01, Público, Edición 1989, Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, aprobado por Resolución No. 489/89 del Ministerio de Defensa, 23 April 1990, § 1.06(6).
Australia
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) provides:
Parachutists are defined as those who abandon a disabled aircraft. Parachutists are not legitimate military targets … It is appreciated that it may be difficult to distinguish a parachutist from a paratrooper, especially while in the air. 
Australia, Law of Armed Conflict, Commanders’ Guide, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 Supplement 1 – Interim Edition, 7 March 1994, § 412.
The Guide also states:
Aircrew who have baled out of a damaged aircraft are to be considered as hors de combat and should not be attacked during their descent. However, should the parachutist land in enemy territory he must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack unless it is apparent that he is engaged in a hostile act. If he lands within territory occupied by his own national authority, he is liable to be attacked by the enemy, like any other combatant, unless wounded and, therefore, protected by LOAC.
The ban on shooting down those descending by parachute does not extend to the dropping of agents or paratroops.  
Australia, Law of Armed Conflict, Commanders’ Guide, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 Supplement 1 – Interim Edition, 7 March 1994, §§ 964 and 965 (land warfare); see also §§ 412, 621, 705 and 1033 (air warfare).
Australia
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states:
Aircrew descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft are immune from attack. If such personnel land in enemy territory they must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack, unless it is apparent that they are engaging in some hostile act. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, § 847; see also § 708.
The manual adds:
849. If the crew of a disabled aircraft lands by parachute in territory occupied by their own forces or under the control of their own national authority, they may be attacked in the same way as any other combatant, unless wounded, in which case they are protected. If in a raft or similar craft at sea after parachuting, they are to be treated as if shipwrecked and may not be attacked.
850. Paratroopers and other airborne troops may be attacked, even during their descent. If the carrying aircraft has been disabled it may be difficult to distinguish between members of the crew abandoning such aircraft who are immune from attack, and the airborne troops who are not so protected. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, §§ 849–850.
Australia
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
8.43 … [A]ircraft may not fire upon shipwrecked personnel, including those who may have parachuted into the sea or otherwise come from downed aircraft, so long as the personnel have not been picked up. These rules do not alter the fact that any attempt by the enemy to recover downed crew may be opposed.
8.51 Aircrew descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft are immune from attack. If such personnel land in enemy territory they must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack, unless it is apparent that they are engaging in some hostile act.
8.52 If personnel from a disabled aircraft do not surrender on being called upon to do so, they may be attacked in the same way as any other combatant. …
8.53 If the crew of a disabled aircraft lands by parachute in territory occupied by their own forces or under the control of their own national authority, they may be attacked in the same way as any other combatant, unless wounded, in which case they are protected. If in a raft or similar craft at sea after parachuting, they are to be treated as if shipwrecked and may not be attacked.
8.54 Paratroopers and other airborne troops may be attacked, even during their descent. If the carrying aircraft has been disabled it may be difficult to distinguish between members of the crew abandoning such aircraft who are immune from attack, and the airborne troops who are not so protected. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, §§ 8.43 and 8.51–8.54; see also § 7.9.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Belgium
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Officers (1994) provides:
No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of an attack during the descent by parachute.
While landing, he shall have the opportunity to indicate his intention to surrender. However, if he attempts to escape or commits a hostile act, he may be attacked. Airborne troops are never protected, even if the aircraft is in distress. 
Belgium, Droit de la Guerre, Manuel d’Instruction pour Officiers, Etat-Major Général, Division Opérations, 1994, Part I, Title II, p. 35.
Belgium
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers provides:
Pilots and aircrew who parachute from an aircraft in distress … are not to be attacked during their descent … They may be attacked during their descent and/or once they have reached the ground only if they themselves open fire or attempt to escape. Airborne troops, however, constitute a combatant unit as soon as they get out of the aircraft and may be made the object of an attack during their descent by parachute as well as on the ground. 
Belgium, Droit de la Guerre, Dossier d’Instruction pour Soldat, à l’attention des officiers instructeurs, JS3, Etat-Major Général, Forces Armées belges, undated, p. 16.
Benin
Benin’s Military Manual (1995) provides: “A person parachuting from an aircraft in distress and who does not commit hostile acts shall not be attacked. … However, the members of enemy paratroops descending by parachute are legitimate military targets.” 
Benin, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Forces Armées du Bénin, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1995, Fascicule II, p. 9.
Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso’s Disciplinary Regulations (1994) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Burkina Faso, Règlement de Discipline Générale dans les Forces Armées, Décret No. 94-159/IPRES/DEF, Ministère de la Défense, 1994, Article 35(2).
Burundi
Burundi’s Regulations on International Humanitarian Law (2007) states: “A parachutist descending from an aircraft in distress must be granted the possibility of surrendering before being attacked, unless he behaves in a hostile way.” 
Burundi, Règlement n° 98 sur le droit international humanitaire, Ministère de la Défense Nationale et des Anciens Combattants, Projet “Moralisation” (BDI/B-05), August 2007, Part I bis, p. 10; see also Part I, p. 15 and Part I bis, p. 83.
The Regulations also states:
The pilots and crew parachuting form an aircraft in distress … may not be attacked during the descent. Once they are on the ground, they must be taken prisoners of war.
However, they may be attacked during their descent or after their landing if they open fire or if they attempt to flee.
Nonetheless, parachutists descending from an aircraft, who constitute airborne troops, remain military objectives, even during their descent. 
Burundi, Règlement n° 98 sur le droit international humanitaire, Ministère de la Défense Nationale et des Anciens Combattants, Projet “Moralisation” (BDI/B-05), August 2007, Part I bis, p. 10; see also Part I bis, p. 56.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Cameroon, Règlement de discipline dans les Forces Armées, Décret No. 75/700, 6 November 1975, Article 32.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) provides that the crew of an aircraft in distress shall not be attacked during their descent by parachute or on the ground, unless they commit hostile acts. 
Cameroon, Droit international humanitaire et droit de la guerre, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les Forces Armées, Présidence de la République, Ministère de la Défense, Etat-major des Armées, Troisième Division, Edition 1992, p. 32, § 24 and p. 63, § 233; see also p. 149, § 531.
The manual adds, however: “Airborne troops in combat formation may be attacked during their descent.” 
Cameroon, Droit international humanitaire et droit de la guerre, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les Forces Armées, Présidence de la République, Ministère de la Défense, Etat-major des Armées, Troisième Division, Edition 1992, p. 32, § 24; see also p. 63, § 233.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states: “The crew and passengers parachuting from an aircraft in distress must not be attacked during descent, except if they engage in hostile acts.” 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 59, § 251; see also p. 85, § 341.
The manual also states under the heading “The Particular Case of Aircraft in Distress”:
The crew of aircrafts in distress must not be attacked except in case of manifest hostility (such as operational parachutists).
Nevertheless, airborne troops in combat formation may be attacked during their descent. 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 105, § 372; see also p. 149, § 432, p. 183, § 493.A and p. 256, § 612.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (2007) states:
Article 32: Prohibitions
It is prohibited to soldiers in combat:
- to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation. 
Cameroon, Règlement de discipline générale dans les forces de défense, Décret N° 2007/199, Président de la République, 7 July 2007, Article 32.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) affirms that aircraft may not “fire upon shipwrecked personnel, including those who may have parachuted into the sea or otherwise come from downed aircraft, unless they carry out acts inconsistent with their status as ‘hors de combat’”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 7-3, § 24.
The manual also states:
34. Aircrew descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft are immune from attack. If such personnel land in enemy territory they must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack, unless it is apparent that they are engaging in some hostile act.
35. If personnel from a disabled aircraft do not surrender on being called upon to do so, they may be attacked in the same way as any other combatant. If a member of the crew of a disabled aircraft lands by parachute in the territory occupied by his own forces or under the control of his own national authority, he may be attacked by the enemy in the same way as any other combatant, unless he is hors de combat (out of combat), in which case he is protected.
36. Paratroops and other airborne troops may be attacked even during their descent. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 7-4, §§ 34–36.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on targeting:
1. No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during descent.
2. Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that that person is engaging in a hostile act.
3. Airborne troops are not entitled to this protection and may be attacked during their descent by parachute. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 437.
With regard to airborne troops, the manual clarifies: “Airborne troops are combatants and therefore legitimate targets. They may be attacked during their descent by parachute from aircraft.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 409.
In its chapter on air warfare, the manual further states: “Aircraft may not … fire upon shipwrecked personnel, including those who may have parachuted into the sea or otherwise come from downed aircraft, unless they carry out acts inconsistent with their status as ‘hors de combat’.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 707.6.
In the same chapter, the manual states:
1. Aircrew descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft are immune from attack. If such personnel land in enemy territory they must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack, unless it is apparent that they are engaging in some hostile act.
2. If personnel from a disabled aircraft do not surrender on being called upon to do so, they may be attacked in the same way as any other combatant. If a member of the crew of a disabled aircraft lands by parachute in territory occupied by his own forces or under the control of his own national authority, he may be attacked by the enemy in the same way as any other combatant, unless he is hors de combat (out of combat), in which case he is protected.
3. Paratroops and other airborne troops may be attacked even during their descent. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 712.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Instructor’s Manual (1999) states in Volume 2 (Instruction for group and patrol leaders): “Any person who is or should be acknowledged as no longer fit to take part in combat must not be attacked (for example any person … parachuting from an aircraft in distress).” 
Central African Republic, Le Droit de la Guerre, Fascicule No. 2: Formation pour l’obtention du certificat technique No. 2 (Chef de Groupe), du certificat Inter-Armé (CIA), du certificat d’aptitude de Chef de Patrouille (CACP), Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Centrafricaines, 1999, Chapter II, Section III, § 3.1.
Also in Volume 2, the manual states: “A person parachuting from an aircraft in distress and who does not commit hostile acts shall not be attacked. However, the members of enemy paratroops descending by parachute are legitimate military targets.” 
Central African Republic, Le Droit de la Guerre, Fascicule No. 2: Formation pour l’obtention du certificat technique No. 2 (Chef de Groupe), du certificat Inter-Armé (CIA), du certificat d’aptitude de Chef de Patrouille (CACP), Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Centrafricaines, 1999, Chapter II, Section III, § 3.1.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Disciplinary Regulations (2009) states: “During combat, it is also prohibited for servicemen to … fire upon the crew and passengers of civil or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they are participating in an air operation”. 
Central African Republic, Décret 09.411 portant règlement de discipline générale dans les Armées, Ministre de la Défense Nationale, des Anciens Combattants, des Victimes de Guerre, du Désarmement et de la Restructuration de l’Armée, 10 December 2009, Article 12(11).
Chad
Chad’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states: “Pilots and crews parachuting from an aircraft in distress … may not be attacked as they descend. Once on the ground, they are [to be] taken prisoner.” 
Chad, Droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces armées et de sécurité, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 87.
The manual also states that “attacking people parachuting from an aircraft as they descend” is a war crime. 
Chad, Droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces armées et de sécurité, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 78.
Congo
The Congo’s Disciplinary Regulations (1986) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Congo, Décret No. 86/057 du 14 janvier 1986 portant Règlement du Service dans l’Armée Populaire Nationale, 1986, Article 32(2).
Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in book I (basic instruction):
I.3.1. Parachutists from aircraft in distress
No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent. …
Upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse Party, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act. …
Airborne troops are not entitled to this protection and can be attacked during their descent by parachute.  
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre IV: Instruction du chef de section et du commandant de compagnie, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 34.
Croatia
Croatia’s Commanders’ Manual (1992) states: “A combatant who is recognized (or should be recognized) as being out of combat (… descending by parachute in distress) may not be attacked.” 
Croatia, Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflicts – Commanders’ Manual, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Defence, 1992, § 72.
Djibouti
Djibouti’s Disciplinary Regulations (1982) states: “It is prohibited for combatants to … fire on crew and passengers parachuting from a civilian or military aircraft in distress, except when they are participating in an airborne operation”. 
Djibouti, Décret no. 82-028/PR/DEF du 5 mai 1982 portant règlement de la discipline générale dans les Forces armées, Article 30(3).
Dominican Republic
The Dominican Republic’s Military Manual (1980) provides:
Individuals parachuting from a burning or disabled aircraft are considered helpless until they reach the ground. You should not fire on them while they are in the air. If they use their weapons or do not surrender upon landing, they must be considered combatants.
On the other hand, paratroopers who are jumping from an airplane to fight against you are targets and you may fire at them while they are still in the air. 
Dominican Republic, La Conducta en Combate según las Leyes de la Guerra, Escuela Superior de las FF. AA. “General de Brigada Pablo Duarte”, Secretaría de Estado de las Fuerzas Armadas, May 1980, p. 5.
Ecuador
Ecuador’s Naval Manual (1989) states:
Parachutists descending from aircraft hors de combat may not be attacked while in the air and, unless they land in a territory controlled by their own forces or launch an attack during their descent, they must be provided an opportunity to surrender upon reaching the ground. Airborne troops, special warfare infiltrators, and intelligence agents parachuting into combat areas or behind enemy lines are not so protected and may be attacked in the air as well as on the ground. Such personnel may not be attacked, however, if they clearly indicate in a timely manner their intention to surrender. 
Ecuador, Aspectos Importantes del Derecho Internacional Marítimo que Deben Tener Presente los Comandantes de los Buques, Academia de Guerra Naval, 1989, § 11.7.
Ethiopia
According to Ethiopia’s Standing Rules of Engagement (2007), enemy soldiers parachuting from an aircraft in distress do not constitute military objectives before reaching the ground and, if they refrain from hostile acts, thereafter. 
Ethiopia, Standing Rules of Engagement, National Defense Force, Addis Ababa, 2007, § 8.4.7.
France
France’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975), as amended, states that, under international conventions, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
France, Règlement de Discipline Générale dans les Armées, Decree No. 75-675 of 28 July 1975, replacing Decree No. 66-749, completed by Decree of 11 October 1978, implemented by Instruction No. 52000/DEF/C/5 of 10 December 1979, and modified by Decree of 12 July 1982, Ministère de la Défense, Etat-Major de l’Armée de Terre, Bureau Emploi, Article 9 bis (2).
France
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) states:
It is prohibited to fire at a person parachuting after having evacuated an aircraft in distress until he lands, unless he uses his weapon. It is, however, allowed to fire at airborne troops still in the air or at all combatants who use their parachute as a means of combat. 
France, Fiche didactique relative au droit des conflits armés, Directive of the Ministry of Defence, 4 January 2000, annexed to the Directive No. 147 of the Ministry of Defence of 4 January 2000, p. 3.
France
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides: “It is … prohibited to attack a person parachuting from an aircraft in distress … This provision, however, does not apply to airborne troops when they parachute.” 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 104; see also p. 105.
The manual adds that a person parachuting from an aircraft in distress, “when reaching the ground, … may be captured or surrender and thus benefits from the status of prisoner of war. However, if [the person] resumes combat, he does not benefit from any particular protection, and the enemy may again use arms against him.” 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 105.
Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides that the armed forces are military objectives, “including paratroops in descent but not crew members parachuting from an aircraft in distress”. 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 442.
Greece
The Hellenic Territorial Army’s Internal Service Code (1984), as amended, provides:
It is forbidden for members of the armed forces:
j)To attack the crew and passengers of civil or military aircrafts, when they fall to the ground using parachutes, from an aircraft which is in danger, with the exception of the case of commando-raid operations. 
Greece, Hellenic Territorial Army Regulation of Internal Service Code, Presidential Decree 130/1984 (Military Regulation 20-1), as amended, Article 15(j).
Indonesia
Indonesia’s Military Manual (1982) states:
Persons who are parachuting in distress should not be attacked. Unless he/she enters into combat, once he/she has landed, he/she should be given the opportunity to surrender. However, during combat, parachuting troops are lawful targets, though they are still in the process of parachuting. 
Indonesia, The Basics of International Humanitarian Law, Legal Division of the Indonesian Armed Forces, 1982, § 106.
Israel
With reference to Israel’s Law of War Booklet (1986), the Report on the Practice of Israel states: “IDF [Israel Defense Forces] internal regulations and practice prohibit firing upon enemy airmen parachuting from their aircraft in distress (as opposed to offensive para-drop operations).” 
Report on the Practice of Israel, 1997, Chapter 2.1, referring to Conduct in the Battlefield in Accordance with the Law of War, Israel Defense Forces, 1986, p. 10.
Israel
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) states: “It is allowed to fire upon paratrooper forces even when they are still in mid-air.” 
Israel, Laws of War in the Battlefield, Manual, Military Advocate General Headquarters, Military School, 1998, p. 43.
Israel
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
Parachutists in mid-air may be shot! Paratroopers jumping in operational activity are combatants in the full sense of the word, and may indeed be shot. The myth originates from the (genuine) prohibition applicable to targeting an air crew that is baling out. That is because air crew, as distinct from a paratrooper, becomes hors de combat by abandoning its plane. By contrast, the paratrooper’s military advantage lies specifically in the act of jumping, and granting immunity to that act makes no sense. 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 50.
[emphasis in original]
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
Italy
Italy’s IHL Manual (1991) prohibits firing at the crew of an aircraft in distress. 
Italy, Manuale di diritto umanitario, Introduzione e Volume I, Usi e convenzioni di Guerra, SMD-G-014, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, Vol. I, § 8(3).
It adds that, in other cases, “it is lawful to open fire at enemy soldiers who … descend by parachute, isolated or in a group”. 
Italy, Manuale di diritto umanitario, Introduzione e Volume I, Usi e convenzioni di Guerra, SMD-G-014, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, Vol. I, § 10.
The manual also defines intentional homicide and mistreatment of persons parachuting in distress as a war crime. 
Italy, Manuale di diritto umanitario, Introduzione e Volume I, Usi e convenzioni di Guerra, SMD-G-014, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, Vol. I, § 84.
Italy
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) states: “A combatant who is recognized (or should be recognized) as being out of combat may not be attacked (… descending by parachute in distress).” 
Italy, Regole elementari di diritto di guerra, SMD-G-012, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, § 72.
Kenya
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) provides:
A person having parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall [be] given an opportunity to surrender before being attacked, unless he engages himself in a hostile act. This rule prohibits shooting at persons who are escaping from disabled aircraft. On the other hand, members of hostile airborne forces descending by parachute are legitimate military targets. 
Kenya, Law of Armed Conflict, Military Basic Course (ORS), 4 Précis, The School of Military Police, 1997, Précis No. 3, pp. 6–7; see also Précis No. 2, p. 15.
Italy
Italy’s Combatant’s Manual (1998) states:
IT IS NOT PERMITTED to open fire on a pilot/crewmember who has parachuted out of a plane that has been hit, or on a shipwrecked person from a ship that has been hit or sunk. Moreover, it is permissible to attack, apart from the above cases (airplane that has been hit/sunk), those combatants who are parachuting or who are using boats to conduct combat actions. 
Italy, Manuale del Combattente, SME 1000/A/2, Stato Maggiore Esercito/Reparto Impiego delle Forze, Ufficio Dottrina, Addestramento e Regolamenti, 1998, § 250.
[emphasis in original]
Lebanon
Lebanon’s Army Regulations (1971) and Field Manual (1996) provide that it is prohibited to fire at those who parachute in emergency, unless they participate in ongoing operations. 
Lebanon, Règlement Général de l’Armée, No. 1/400, Ministère de la Défense, Commandement de l’Armée, 14 January 1971, § 17; Manuel de Service du Terrain dans l’Armée Libanaise, Arrêt No. 3188/A.A./Q, Département de l’Armée pour la Planification, Direction des Etudes Générales, 23 October 1996, § 7.
Madagascar
Madagascar’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “A combatant who is recognized (or should be recognized) to be hors de combat shall not be attacked (… person descending in distress by parachute).” 
Madagascar, Le Droit des Conflits Armés, Ministère des Forces Armées, August 1994, Fiche No. 7-O, § 17.
Mali
Mali’s Army Regulations (1979) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Mali, Règlement du Service dans l’Armée, 1ère Partie: Discipline Générale, Ministère de la Défense Nationale, 1979, Article 36.
Morocco
Morocco’s Disciplinary Regulations (1974) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Morocco, Règlement de Discipline Général dans les Forces Armées Royales, Dahir No. 1-74-383 du 15 rejeb 1394, 5 August 1974, Article 25(2).
Netherlands
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides:
No person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent. Upon reaching the ground, a person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of attack. An opportunity to surrender must not be given if it is apparent that he is engaging in a hostile act.
Airborne troops are obviously not protected this way. 
Netherlands, Toepassing Humanitair Oorlogsrecht, Voorschift No. 27-412/1, Koninklijke Landmacht, Ministerie van Defensie, 1993, p. IV-4.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Section 4 - Ban on attacks on persons parachuting from aircraft in distress
0411. Persons who parachute from an aircraft in distress may not be shot at during their descent. Once they reach the ground, they must be allowed an opportunity to surrender before fire is opened.
0412. The opportunity of surrender need not be given if they are clearly carrying out hostile actions. Airborne landing troops are not entitled to such protection, unless it is clear that they are jumping from an aircraft in distress and refrain from hostile acts. In the latter case they, too, must be allowed the opportunity to surrender.
Sometimes it is unclear whether airborne landing troops are jumping from an aircraft for operational reasons or because the aircraft is in distress. The assessment of this depends on the actual circumstances of fact and the behaviour of the airborne landing troops. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 0411–0412.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states:
It is generally considered to be a rule of customary law that aircrew who have bailed out of a damaged aircraft are to be considered as hors de combat and immune from attack. By [the 1977 Additional Protocol I Art. 42], this is made part of treaty law so that such persons are protected during their descent. Should such a person land in the territory of an adverse Party, he must be given an opportunity to surrender before being made the object of an attack, unless it is apparent that he is engaged in a hostile act. If he lands within his own lines or in territory occupied by his own national authority, he is liable to immediate attack like any other combatant, unless he is wounded and so protected by the [1949 Geneva Convention I].
The ban on shooting down those descending by parachute does not extend to the dropping of agents or parachute troops. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 522.
The manual adds: “Airmen abandoning aircraft in distress may not be attacked during their descent. Any such attack would, therefore, be a war crime.” 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 1704(2)(c), footnote 34.
Nigeria
Under Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War, “shooting at survivors of an enemy aircraft that has been hit” is an “illegitimate tactic”, while “shooting at enemy paratroopers” is a “legitimate tactic”. 
Nigeria, The Laws of War, by Lt. Col. L. Ode PSC, Nigerian Army, Lagos, undated, § 14.
Peru
Peru’s IHL Manual (2004) states: “In the event of an aircraft being disabled, the persons trying to escape by means of parachutes must not be attacked during their descent.” 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial Nº 1394-2004-DE/CCFFAA/CDIH-FFAA, Lima, 1 December 2004, § 171.c.
Peru
Peru’s IHL and Human Rights Manual (2010) states: “When an aircraft is in distress, the persons trying to escape by means of parachutes must not be attacked during their descent.”  
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derechos Humanos para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial No. 049-2010/DE/VPD, Lima, 21 May 2010, § 100(d), p. 297.
Philippines
The Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (2006) notes in its glossary:
Enemy “hors de combat” – enemy who is out of combat. A person who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, is no longer able to participate in combat, shall not be attacked (e.g. surrendering, wounded, dead, shipwrecked in water, descending by parachute from an aircraft in distress). 
Philippines, Philippine Army Soldier’s Handbook on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, A Practical Guide for Internal Security Operations, 2006, p. 68, Glossary.
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) lists “the attack of … persons parachuting from an aircraft in distress (with the exception of paratroopers)” as a prohibited method of warfare. 
Russian Federation, Instructions on the Application of the Rules of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the USSR, Appendix to Order of the USSR Defence Minister No. 75, 1990, § 5(i).
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states:
The prohibited methods of warfare include … attacking persons parachuting from an aircraft in distress and refraining from any acts of hostility in the course of their descent and upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse party before being given an opportunity to surrender (except for the parachuting personnel of airborne troops and in other cases when landing with the help of a parachute is used to carry out a mission). 
Russian Federation, Regulations on the Application of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 8 August 2001, § 7.
Senegal
Senegal’s Disciplinary Regulations (1990) states that, under the laws and customs of war, it is prohibited “to fire at the crew and passengers of civilian or military aircraft parachuting from an aircraft in distress, except when they participate in an airborne operation”. 
Senegal, Règlement de Discipline dans les Forces Armées, Décret 90-1159, 12 October 1990, Article 34(2).
South Africa
South Africa’s LOAC Manual (1996) states:
Parachutists are presumed to be on military mission and may therefore be targeted during descent. An exception to this presumption is where the parachutists are the crew of a disabled aircraft; they are presumed to be out of combat and may not be targeted unless they show an intent to resist. 
South Africa, Presentation on the South African Approach to International Humanitarian Law, Appendix A, Chapter 4: International Humanitarian Law (The Law of Armed Conflict), National Defence Force, 1996, § 33.
South Africa
South Africa’s Revised Civic Education Manual (2004) states:
Parachutists are presumed to be on a military mission and may therefore be targeted during descent. An exception to this presumption is where the parachutists are the crew of a disabled aircraft; they are presumed to be out of combat and may not be targeted unless they show an intent to resist. 
South Africa, Revised Civic Education Manual, South African National Defence Force, 2004, Chapter 4, § 55.
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) provides that persons baling out of an aircraft in distress by parachute may not be attacked during their descent. Furthermore, such persons, “when reaching the ground, shall have the opportunity to surrender before being attacked, unless it is apparent that they are engaged in a hostile act”. 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Publicación OR7-004, 2 Tomos, aprobado por el Estado Mayor del Ejército, Division de Operaciones, 18 March 1996, Vol. I, § 4.5.b.(1)b); see also § 10.8.f.(1).
The manual adds: “It is lawful to attack paratroops during their descent.” 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Publicación OR7-004, 2 Tomos, aprobado por el Estado Mayor del Ejército, Division de Operaciones, 18 March 1996, Vol. I, § 7.3.a.(6).
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states that it is prohibited to attack: “Combatants parachuting from an aircraft in distress during their descent. Upon reaching the ground, they must be given an opportunity to surrender before being attacked, unless it is apparent that they are engaging in a hostile act.” 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Tomo 1, Publicación OR7–004, (Edición Segunda), Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina, Dirección de Doctrina, Orgánica y Materiales, 2 November 2007, § 4.5.a.(1).(b).
The manual notes, however, that it is permitted to attack “airborne troops during their descent”. 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Tomo 1, Publicación OR7–004, (Edición Segunda), Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina, Dirección de Doctrina, Orgánica y Materiales, 2 November 2007, § 4.5.a.(1).(a); see also § 7.3.a.(6).
Sweden
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) notes:
Proposals were presented at the [CDDH] to the effect that it should be permitted to employ armed force against a distressed airman expected to land in territory controlled by the enemy. Apart from the practical difficulties in determining whether a distressed parachutist will land on one side of the combat area or on the other, a rule with this content would have highly inhuman effects. These considerations resulted in the proposal being rejected.
During the negotiations [on the 1977 Additional Protocol I] it was pointed out that persons seeking to save themselves by parachuting are incapable of any use of weapons during their descent: their sole interest is probably in saving their lives. The situation can of course change when they have reached the ground. This is the background against which Article 42 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] provides protection for distressed persons leaving aircraft in emergency situations. If after landing the person chooses to continue his military resistance, it again becomes permissible to attack him. To avoid the possibility of abuse, it is particularly stated that airborne troops are not protected by the … rule. 
Sweden, International Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict, with reference to the Swedish Total Defence System, Swedish Ministry of Defence, January 1991, Section 3.2.1.2, pp. 33–34.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) states:
If the occupants of an aircraft in distress bale out by parachute to save their lives, it is not legitimate to attack them from the ground or from an aircraft during their descent. As soon as those persons reach the ground, they may be captured. If they resist or show hostile intent, they may be placed hors de combat.
Paratroopers may be placed hors de combat even before they reach the ground, whether they parachute alone or in massive groups. 
Switzerland, Lois et coutumes de la guerre (Extrait et commentaire), Règlement 51.7/II f, Armée Suisse, 1987, Articles 49 and 50.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states:
183 As long as they do not defend themselves, pilots and crew members who parachute from an enemy aircraft in distress to save their own lives may neither be attacked from the air nor from the ground. Once landed, they are treated as prisoners of war. If they do not surrender or resist capture they are considered combatants and may be rendered hors de combat. 
Switzerland, Bases légales du comportement à l’engagement (BCE), Règlement 51.007/IVf, Swiss Army, issued based on Article 10 of the Ordinance on the Organization of the Federal Department for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports of 7 March 2003, entry into force on 1 July 2005, § 183; see also § 172.
Togo
Togo’s Military Manual (1996) provides: “A person parachuting from an aircraft in distress and who does not commit hostile acts shall not be attacked. … However, the members of enemy paratroops descending by parachute are legitimate military targets.” 
Togo, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Etat-major Général des Forces Armées Togolaises, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1996, Fascicule II, p. 9.
Ukraine
Ukraine’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
The following methods of warfare shall be prohibited:
- attacks against persons who … are parachuting from an aircraft in distress and are not performing hostile actions (except for the persons who are landing being a part of the airborne troops). 
Ukraine, Manual on the Application of IHL Rules, Ministry of Defence, 11 September 2004, § 1.3.2.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK Military Manual (1958) specifies:
It is lawful to fire on airborne troops and others engaged, or who appear to be engaged, on hostile missions whilst such persons are descending from aircraft, in particular over territory in control of the opposing forces, whether or not that aircraft has been disabled. It is, on the other hand, unlawful to fire at other persons descending by parachute from disabled aircraft. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 119, footnote 1(b).
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states that the duty to give quarter “prohibits shooting at persons who are escaping from disabled aircraft. On the other hand, members of hostile airborne forces descending by parachute are legitimate military targets.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 4, p. 12, § 2(b).
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
Parachutists
12.67. No “person parachuting from an aircraft in distress shall be made the object of attack during his descent”. A person who has parachuted from an aircraft in distress must, upon reaching the ground in territory controlled by an adverse belligerent, be given an opportunity to surrender before being attacked unless it is apparent that he is engaged in a hostile act. Airborne troops do not fall under this protection.
12.67.1. The destruction or an attempt at destruction of the aircraft, any part of its equipment or related documents would constitute a hostile act.
Airmen in Enemy-held Territory
Downed airmen
12.68. On land, a “downed” airman from an aircraft in distress must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to surrender before the attack upon him is resumed. Clearly if the “downed” airman is incapacitated he is hors de combat and the general rule will apply. The attack may be resumed immediately if he offers violence, attempts to escape or if, suffering no incapacity, he is in territory controlled by his own forces. The pilot who has crash-landed his aircraft and is attempting to complete its destruction or the destruction of any part of his or its equipment is committing a hostile act and may be attacked immediately.
Combat rescue of downed aircrew on land
12.69. The use of, for example, military assets to rescue aircrew who have been “downed” on territory under the control of the enemy is a combat activity. It is therefore legitimate for an enemy in such circumstances to attack the rescuers or by some other means to impede or prevent the rescue activity. However, that would not apply in the case of medical personnel, units or transports collecting the sick or wounded, see chapter 7.
12.69.1. The mere fact that a rescue service saves enemy personnel as well as its own does not entitle it to immunity from attack. Once taken prisoner, such enemy personnel should be accorded all the rights of a prisoner of war, at least until their status has been determined. Arguably, any communication by downed aircrew with their national authorities constitutes a hostile act, which would at that point justify an attack upon that aircrew. Such justification may also arise from other conduct indicating that the downed individual is seeking to continue the fight.
Combat rescue at sea
12.70. A “downed” airm[a]n at sea falls within the definition of “shipwrecked” so that he must not be attacked if he refrains from hostile acts.
12.70.1. Although it can be argued that search and rescue by aircraft used exclusively for rescuing airmen “downed” at sea in areas either not controlled by friendly forces or not occupied by enemy forces should be regarded as a protected activity under the provisions of Geneva Convention II 1949, it has been the general practice not to afford such protection. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 12.67–12.70.1.
United States of America
The US Field Manual (1956) provides:
The law of war does not prohibit firing upon paratroops or other persons who are or appear to be bound upon hostile missions while such persons are descending by parachute. Persons other than those mentioned in the preceding sentence who are descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft may not be fired upon. 
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, § 30.
United States of America
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) states:
When an aircraft is disabled and the occupants escape by parachutes, they should not be attacked in their descent … However, persons descending from an aircraft for hostile purposes, such as paratroops or those who appear to be bound upon hostile missions, are not protected. Any person descending from a disabled aircraft who continues to resist may be attacked. Downed enemy airmen from aircraft in distress are subject to immediate capture and can be attacked if they continue to resist or escape or are behind their own lines. Otherwise they should be afforded a reasonable opportunity to surrender.
If downed in their own territory, they remain lawful targets, as combatants, unless rendered hors de combat by sickness, wounds or other causes … If downed in the attacker’s territory and subject to capture, the advantages of capture outweigh any minimal advantage secured by attack. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 4-2(e), including footnote 14.
United States of America
The US Soldier’s Manual (1984) provides:
Individuals parachuting from a burning or disabled aircraft are considered helpless until they reach the ground. You should not fire on them while they are in the air. If they use their weapons or do not surrender upon landing, they must be considered combatants. Paratroopers, on the other hand, are jumping from an airplane to fight. They are targets and you may fire at them while they are still in the air. 
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. 6.
United States of America
The US Rules of Engagement for Operation Desert Storm (1991) instruct: “Do not engage anyone who … is an aircrew member descending by parachute from a disabled aircraft.” 
United States, Desert Storm – Rules of Engagement, Pocket Card, US Central Command, January 1991, reprinted in Operational Law Handbook, International and Operational Law Department, The Judge Advocate General’s School, United States Army, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1995, pp. 8-7 and 8-8, § A.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states:
Parachutists descending from disabled aircraft may not be attacked while in the air unless they engage in combatant acts while descending. Upon reaching the ground, such parachutists must be provided an opportunity to surrender. Airborne troops, special warfare infiltrators, and intelligence agents parachuting into combat areas or behind enemy lines are not so protected and may be attacked in the air as well as on the ground. Such personnel may not be attacked, however, if they clearly indicate in a timely manner their intention to surrender. 
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), § 11.6.
United States of America
The Annotated Supplement to the US Naval Handbook (1997) states that Article 42(1) and (2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I codifies the customary rule set out in Article 20 of Part II of the 1923 Hague Rules of Air Warfare. It adds:
Firing a weapon is clearly a combatant act.
A downed airman, who aware of the presence of enemy armed forces, attempts to evade capture, will probably be considered as engaging in a hostile act and, therefore, subject to attack from the ground or from the air. However, mere movement in the direction of one’s own lines does not, by itself, constitute an act of hostilities. 
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, § 11.6, footnotes 39 and 40.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states:
Parachutists descending from disabled aircraft may not be attacked while in the air unless they engage in combatant acts while descending. Upon reaching the ground, such parachutists must be provided an opportunity to surrender. Airborne troops, special warfare infiltrators, and intelligence agents parachuting into combat areas or behind enemy lines are not so protected and may be attacked in the air as well as on the ground. Such personnel may not be attacked, however, if they clearly indicate in a timely manner their intention to surrender. 
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, § 8.2.3.1.
Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Military Manual (1988) prohibits attacking persons parachuting from an enemy aircraft in distress and refraining from hostile acts, but specifies that this prohibition “does not apply to airborne invasion, not even when some of the aircraft are damaged before reaching the target area of invasion”. 
Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic, Propisi o Primeri Pravila Medjunarodnog Ratnog Prava u Oruzanim Snagama SFRJ, PrU-2, Savezni Sekretarijat za Narodnu Odbranu (Pravna Uprava), 1988, § 69.
Denmark
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (1973), as amended in 1978, provides:
Any person who uses war instruments or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or the general rules of international law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. a fine, lenient imprisonment or up to 12 years’ imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 1973, as amended in 1978, § 25(1).
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (2005) provides:
Any person who deliberately uses war means [“krigsmiddel”] or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or international customary law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. imprisonment up to life imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 2005, § 36(2).
Ireland
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 42, is a punishable offence. 
Ireland, Geneva Conventions Act, 1962, as amended in 1998, Section 4(1) and (4).
Italy
Italy’s Law of War Decree (1938), as amended in 1992, prohibits firing at the crew of an aircraft in distress. 
Italy, Law of War Decree, 1938, as amended in 1992, Article 35(3).
The Decree further provides that, in other cases, “it is lawful to open fire at enemy soldiers who … descend by parachute, isolated or in a group”. 
Italy, Law of War Decree, 1938, as amended in 1992, 1938, Article 38.
Norway
Norway’s Military Penal Code (1902), as amended in 1981, provides:
Anyone who contravenes or is accessory to the contravention of provisions relating to the protection of persons or property laid down in … the two additional protocols to [the 1949 Geneva] Conventions … is liable to imprisonment. 
Norway, Military Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 1981, 1902, § 108(b).
United States of America
In the Dostler case before the US Military Commission at Rome in 1945, the accused, the commander of a German army corps, was found guilty of having ordered the shooting of 15 American prisoners of war in violation of the 1907 Hague Regulations and of long-established laws and customs of war. The accused relied on the defence of superior orders based, inter alia, on the Führer’s order of 18 October 1942. This order provided that enemy soldiers participating in commando operations should be given no quarter, but added that these provisions did not apply to aviators who had baled out to save their lives during aerial combat. 
United States, Military Commission at Rome, Dostler case, Judgment, 12 October 1945.
Egypt
According to the Report on the Practice of Egypt, it is the traditional practice of Egypt to spare persons parachuting in distress. The report notably cites military communiqués issued during the 1973 Middle East War. 
Report on the Practice of Egypt, 1997, Chapter 5.1, referring to Military Communiqué No. 34, 13 October 1973 and Military Communiqué No. 46, 18 October 1973.
However, during the debates at the CDDH, the Egyptian delegation stated that an “airman who attempted to escape capture should not be protected”. 
Egypt, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. XV, CDDH/III/SR.47, 31 May 1976, p. 87, § 12.
Iraq
According to the Report on the Practice of Iraq, during the Iran–Iraq War, Iraq issued several military communiqués in which it held the Islamic Republic of Iran responsible for sparing the lives and ensuring the safety of Iraqi pilots parachuting from aircraft in distress. 
Report on the Practice of Iraq, 1998, Chapter 5.1, referring to Military Communiqué No. 541, 3 December 1981, Military Communiqué No. 683, 1982, Military Communiqué No. 996, 1 February 1983 and Military Communiqué No. 1383, 2 January 1984.
On the basis of the reply by the Ministry of Defence to a questionnaire, the report also notes that, during the Iran–Iraq War, members of the opposing forces who were hors de combat, including pilots parachuting from aircraft in distress, were well treated, without distinction based on military rank or category. 
Report on the Practice of Iraq, 1998, Reply by the Ministry of Defence to a questionnaire, July 1997, Chapter 2.1.
Islamic Republic of Iran
The Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran cites an Iranian military communiqué of 1980 in which the Islamic Republic of Iran denied allegations by Iraq that “angry mobs ha[d] killed parachuting Iraqis”. It asserted that pilots were under the control of the army and well treated. 
Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1997, Chapter 2.1, referring to Military Communiqué, 29 September 1980.
Pakistan
The Report on the Practice of Pakistan notes that Indian pilots who parachuted in distress were taken as prisoners of war in the 1965 and 1971 conflicts. 
Report on the Practice of Pakistan, 1998, Chapter 2.1.
United States of America
In 1987, the Deputy Legal Adviser of the US Department of State, referring to Article 42 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, affirmed: “We support the principle that persons, other than airborne troops, parachuting from an aircraft in distress, not be made the object of 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 University Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 2, 1987, p. 425.
United States of America
In 1991, in response to an ICRC memorandum on the applicability of IHL in the Gulf region, the United States pointed out that its practice was consistent with the prohibition to attack a pilot parachuting from an aircraft in distress and that the protection applied to all air crew rather than to the pilot only. 
United States, Letter from the Department of the Army to the legal adviser of the US armed forces deployed in the Gulf region, 11 January 1991, § 8(J), Report on US Practice, 1997, Chapter 2.8.
No data.
No data.
Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts
The Rapporteur of Committee III of the CDDH commented:
The Committee decided not to try to define what constituted a hostile act, but there was considerable support for the view that an airman who was aware of the presence of enemy armed forces and tried to escape was engaging in a hostile act. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. XV, CDDH/236/Rev.1, 21 April–11 June 1976, p. 386, § 30.
No data.
ICRC
The ICRC Commentary on the Additional Protocols states:
This article [42 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] is entirely new. The Hague Regulations of 1907, produced at a time when air warfare did not exist, was obviously not concerned with this problem. However, military manuals already contained prohibitions on firing on airmen in distress, in this way confirming its customary law character. 
Yves Sandoz et al. (eds.), Commentary on the Additional Protocols, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 1637.
The Commentary also states that Article 42(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I
goes further than Article 41 (Safeguard of an enemy hors de combat), viz., with regard to the question of surrender. The intent to surrender is assumed to exist in an airman whose aircraft has been brought down, and any attack should be suspended until the person concerned has had an opportunity of making this intention known.
A priori, fire must therefore not be opened on the ground against persons who have parachuted from an aircraft in distress, whether they land in or behind the enemy lines. These airmen are presumed to have the intention of surrendering, and all possible measures should be taken to enable this surrender to take place under appropriate conditions. 
Yves Sandoz et al. (eds.), Commentary on the Additional Protocols, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, §§ 1644 and 1648.
ICRC
To fulfil its task of disseminating IHL, the ICRC has delegates around the world teaching armed and security forces that:
A person who is recognized or who, in the circumstances, should be recognized as being no longer able to participate in combat, shall not be attacked (e.g. … descending by parachute from an aircraft in distress).
A person having parachuted from an aircraft in distress shall be given an opportunity to surrender before being attacked, unless he appears to engage in a hostile act. 
Frédéric de Mulinen, Handbook on the Law of War for Armed Forces, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, §§ 487 and 489.
ICRC
In a report submitted to the 21st International Conference of the Red Cross in 1969, the ICRC stated that an “airman in distress, cut off, and not employing any weapon should be respected” and that upon landing, the parachutist should be treated as a prisoner of war. 
ICRC, Report on the Reaffirmation and Development of Laws and Customs Applicable in Armed Conflicts, May 1969, submitted to the 21st International Conference of the Red Cross, Istanbul, 6–13 September 1969, p. 77.
ICRC
Article 36 of the draft Additional Protocol I submitted by the ICRC at the Conference of Government Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts in 1972 provided: “The occupants of aircraft in distress who parachute to save their lives, or who are compelled to make a forced landing, shall not be attacked during their descent or landing unless their attitude is hostile.” 
ICRC, Draft Instruments submitted to the Second Session of the Conference of Government Experts, 3 May–3 June 1972, Report on the Work of the Conference, Vol. II, Geneva, July 1972, p. 6.
The ICRC Commentary on Article 36 of the draft Additional Protocol I stated:
This article is entirely new. In the era of The Hague, there was no “vertical” dimension to military operations. Consequently, a proposal, which reflects the customs which have grown up since the appearance of air warfare, was formally submitted to the first session of the Conference of Government Experts and at which the situation of airmen in distress was compared to that of the shipwrecked. 
ICRC, Commentary on draft Article 36 submitted to the Second Session of the Conference of Government Experts, 3 May–3 June 1972, Commentary, Vol. II, Part One, Geneva, January 1972, p. 70.
Bothe, Partsch and Solf
In their commentary on the 1977 Additional Protocols, Bothe, Partsch and Solf state:
Article 42 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] codifies a custom which began among some fighter pilots during World War I who considered it to be unchivalrous and inhumane to attack an adversary while he is parachuting to earth from a disabled observation balloon. The custom was further developed during World War II when the use of parachutes by aviators in fixed wing aircraft became routine. The principle of this custom extended to aircraft, was expressed in Art. 20 of the Hague Air Warfare Rules of 1922/1923, which never went into force. It was also expressed in several military law of war manuals and by important publicists. 
Michael Bothe, Karl Joseph Partsch, Waldemar A. Solf (eds.), New Rules for Victims of Armed Conflicts, Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1982, p. 226.