Practice Relating to Rule 53. Starvation as a Method of Warfare
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers):
II.2.5. Protection of goods indispensable for the survival of the population
It is prohibited to use starvation as a method of warfare against the civilian population, i.e. to resort to the former concept of siege. It is therefore prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.
In Book IV (Instruction of heads of division and company commanders), the Teaching Manual provides:
I.2.9. Recourse to the starvation of the civilian population
Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited. Consequently, it is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, whatever the motive.
Under Côte d’Ivoire’s Penal Code (1981), as amended in 1998, organizing, ordering or carrying out, in time of war or occupation, the “intentional reduction to starvation, destitution or ruination” of the civilian population constitutes a “crime against the civilian population”.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Penal Code (1981), as amended in 2015, states:
Whoever commits a war crime is punished with life imprisonment.
War crimes are:
2 - other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
- intentionally using starvation of civilians as a method of warfare by depriving them of objects indispensable to their survival, including wilfully impeding relief supplies as provided for under the Geneva Conventions[.]
In 1990, in the UN Sanctions Committee on Iraq, Côte d’Ivoire stated that “no one wanted a famine in the area. Citizens should not be made to pay for the misdeeds of their Governments.”