Practice Relating to Rule 50. Destruction and Seizure of Property of an Adversary
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides: “The destruction or seizure of enemy property, whether it belongs to private individuals or to the State, is forbidden unless the damage or seizure is imperatively demanded by the necessities of war.”
The manual further states that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly,” is a grave breach of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and a war crime.
The manual also states that “destroying or seizing enemy property, unless imperatively demanded by the necessities of war” constitutes a war crime.
In addition, in the case of occupied territory, the manual states:
Destruction of property may be partial or total. Property of any type of ownership may be damaged, when this is necessary to, or results from, military operations either during or preparatory to combat. Destruction is forbidden except where there is some reasonable connection between the destruction of the property and the overcoming of the enemy forces.
New Zealand’s Geneva Conventions Act (1958), as amended in 1987, provides: “Any person who in New Zealand or elsewhere commits, or aids or abets or procures the commission by another person of, a grave breach of any of the [1949 Geneva] Conventions … is guilty of an indictable offence.”
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(a)(iv), (b)(xiii) and (e)(xii) of the 1998 ICC Statute.