Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states:
The rules of the law of war must be respected. They must be respected in all circumstances … States parties to law of war treaties must take all necessary measures to ensure respect for their obligations under these treaties.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states that “each individual soldier is bound to apply the rules of the humanitarian law of war in an armed conflict, under all circumstances”.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
1004. … [T]he parties should always obey the rules of the humanitarian law of war which are applicable to internal armed conflicts. Members of the Dutch armed forces are always bound to consider this legal system in all applicable situations.
1074. … [C]ompliance should take place at all times. No one may be ordered to break these rules. Such an order is unlawful and must not be obeyed. The commanding officer is responsible for the behaviour of the unit(s) under his orders. A commanding officer (and any other senior military officer) is bound to prevent planned and actual violations and to take measures where necessary, and where they may be expected of him, to prevent repetition and/or make punishment possible. A commanding officer, like those who break these rules, may be punished if he does not properly fulfil his duty as a commanding officer.
In its chapter on the prevention and punishment of war crimes, the manual states: “The rules of the humanitarian law of war must be applied in an armed conflict under all circumstances.”
In its chapter on peace operations, under the heading “Code of Conduct for the Armed Forces”, the manual states: “Members of the armed forces must scrupulously obey the rules of national and international law.”
In this chapter, the manual further states:
1231. Applicability of humanitarian law of war in UN peace operations
Although the United Nations as such is not a party to the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols, it is now generally accepted that UN troops are bound by international customary law when implementing peace operations. The four Geneva Conventions and parts of the Additional Protocols are viewed as international customary law. Naturally, the various countries participating in such an operation under the UN flag are bound by the customary law, treaties and conventions which they have signed and ratified.
1232. UN instructions on operations under UN command (with UN Guidelines)
To ensure that UN troops under UN command and control correctly apply the principles of the humanitarian law of war, the Secretary-General has issued Guidelines [Observance by United Nations Forces of International Humanitarian Law, Secretary-General’s Bulletin, UN Secretariat, UN Doc. ST/SGB/1999/13, 6 August 1999]. These instructions are applicable if UN troops are involved in an armed conflict, a peace enforcement operation or if they have to act in self-defence during a peacekeeping operation.
[emphasis in original]