Yugoslavia, Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
The Report on the Practice of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia describes the armed conflict in Croatia as being characterized by the mass destruction of cultural, historical and religious objects and by violations of existing norms by both sides. According to the report, the Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) insisted that attacks on cultural and other protected property such as churches and historical monuments were prohibited. Furthermore, the report asserts the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s view that Article 16 of the 1977 Additional Protocol II already enjoys customary law status. It maintains that, for this reason, the parties to the conflict between the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia did not deal with the question of cultural property in their agreements on the application of IHL as they deemed it to be superfluous.
In the Legality of Use of Force cases in 1999, the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia initiated proceedings before the ICJ against ten NATO member States (Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, United Kingdom and United States) on the ground, inter alia, that:
by taking part in destroying or damaging monasteries, monuments of culture, [the respective States had] acted against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in breach of [their] obligation not to commit any act of hostility directed against historical monuments, works of art or places of worship which constitute cultural or spiritual heritage of people.