Practice relating to Rule 66. Non-Hostile Contacts between the Parties to the Conflict

Note: For practice concerning the carrying of the white flag of truce by a parlementaire, see the definition of a parlementaire in Rule 66, Section C. For practice concerning the use of the white flag of truce as an indication of a wish to surrender, see also Rule 47. For practice concerning the abuse, misuse or improper use of the white flag of truce, see Rule 58. For practice concerning the perfidious use of the white flag of truce, see Rule 65, Sections D and E.
No data.
No data.
Australia
Australia’s Commanders’ Guide (1994) states: “It is important to note that a white flag represents an expression of a desire to negotiate; it is not necessarily an indication of intent to surrender or enter into a cease-fire.” 
Australia, Law of Armed Conflict, Commanders’ Guide, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 Supplement 1 – Interim Edition, 7 March 1994, § 505.
Australia
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) notes:
Customary international law recognises the white flag as symbolising a request to cease-fire, negotiate, or surrender. An adversary displaying a white flag should be permitted the opportunity to surrender, or to communicate a request for cease-fire or negotiation. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, § 910.
Australia
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
International law recognises the white flag as symbolising a request to cease-fire, negotiate, or surrender. An adversary displaying a white flag should be permitted the opportunity to communicate a willingness to surrender, or to communicate a request for cease-fire or negotiation. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 9.10.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Belgium
Belgium’s Law of War Manual (1983) expressly recognizes the white flag as the flag of parlementaires. 
Belgium, Droit Pénal et Disciplinaire Militaire et Droit de la Guerre, Deuxième Partie, Droit de la Guerre, Ecole Royale Militaire, par J. Maes, Chargé de cours, Avocat-général près la Cour Militaire, D/1983/1187/029, 1983, Annex 2, No. 6.
Belgium
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers recognizes “the white flag of parlementaires (used for negotiation or surrender)”. 
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. 9, see also p. 10.
The manual states: “This flag is actually recognized as the signal of a request for suspension of operations to enter into negotiations or to surrender.” 
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. 15.
Benin
Benin’s Military Manual (1995) recognizes the “white flag (flag of parlementaires used for negotiations and surrender)”. 
Benin, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Forces Armées du Bénin, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1995, Fascicule I, p. 15.
Burundi
Burundi’s Regulations on International Humanitarian Law (2007) states that “the white flag of truce … is utilized to negotiate”. 
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. 22; see also Part I bis, p. 38 and Part I, p. 13.
The Regulations also states that “the white flag of truce … [is used] by parlementaires or envoys who head towards the adversary in order to announce their intention to negotiate”. 
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. 7; see also Part I bis, p. 60.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) mentions “the flag of parlementaires or white flag for temporary suspension of combat”. 
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. 37, § 144.2 and p. 61, § 232.2.
The white flag is defined in the manual as the flag of parlementaires and the flag of surrendering combatants. 
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, pp. 38, 62 and 146.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states that during naval operations, “bombardment must cease if there is a manifest intention of the adversary … to negotiate. This will be the case if the latter raises the white flag.” 
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. 258, § 613.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (2007) states:
Article 32: Prohibitions
It is prohibited to soldiers in combat:
- to use improperly the flag of parlementaires, the national flag of the enemy, as well as the distinctive insignia recognized by international conventions. 
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) notes: “Personnel bearing a white flag are indicating a desire to negotiate or surrender.” 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 4-5, § 45.
Canada
Canada’s Code of Conduct (2001) stresses:
The showing of a white flag is not necessarily an expression of an intent to surrender. Furthermore, it is not necessarily applicable to all opposing forces in an area. The white flag can also mean that opposing forces wish to temporarily cease hostilities to talk or negotiate. 
Canada, Code of Conduct for CF Personnel, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 4 June 2001, Rule 5, § 3.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001), in its chapter on targeting, states: “Personnel bearing a white flag are indicating a desire to negotiate or surrender. They should not be attacked but should be dealt with cautiously”. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 434.
In its chapter entitled “Communications and contact between opposing forces”, the manual states:
1. Negotiations between belligerent commanders may be conducted by intermediaries known as parlementaires. The wish to negotiate by parlementaires is frequently indicated by the raising of a white flag, but any other method of communication such as radios may be employed.
2. Parlementaires normally operate under a white flag of truce. A parlementaire may be accompanied by other personnel agreed upon by the commanders involved …
4. To fire intentionally upon the white flag carried by a parlementaire is a war crime. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 1402.1–2 and 4.
Canada
Canada’s Code of Conduct (2005) states:
[T]he showing of a white flag is not necessarily an expression of an intent to surrender. Furthermore it is not necessarily applicable to all opposing forces in an area. The white flag can also mean that opposing forces wish to temporarily cease hostilities to talk or negotiate. 
Canada, Code of Conduct for CF Personnel, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 2005, Rule 5, § 3.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Instructor’s Manual (1999) states in Volume 1 (Basic and team leader instruction): “The white flag (flag of parlementaires) [is] used to signal a request for negotiation or surrender).” 
Central African Republic, Le Droit de la Guerre, Fascicule No. 1: Formation élémentaire toutes armés (FETA), formation commune de base (FCB), certificat d’aptitude technique No. 1 (Chef d’équipe), Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Centrafricaines, 1999, Chapter II, Section II, § 2.
Colombia
Colombia’s Soldiers’ Manual (1999) recognizes “the white flag, which means surrender, parlementaire, negotiation and spirit of conciliation”. 
Colombia, Derechos Humanos & Derecho Internacional Humanitario – Guía de Conducta para el Soldado e Infante de Marina, Ministerio de Defensa Nacional, Oficina de Derechos Humanos, Fuerzas Militares de Colombia, Santafé de Bogotá, 1999, p. 28.
Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers):
Chapter 3. Identification
III.4. The white flag (or flag of truce)
The white flag is a customary element of war, and remains widely in use until this day. The white flag is used to indicate the intention to negotiate and to protect the persons who negotiate. It does not necessarily indicate – as it is often believed – an intention to surrender. The negotiation with an enemy can have concrete military motives: organization of a ceasefire in order to collect the dead and injured, or in order to exchange prisoners …
Chapter 4. Behaviour in action
II.4. The white flag (the flag of truce)
We have already spoken of this element of customary law; let us now see how it can be used during operations.
The white flag signifies “I want to enter into communication or negotiate with you”, and not necessarily “I want to surrender”. How does one use the white flag? The party which uses the white flag must cease firing. As soon as it has done so, the other side must do the same. Enemy forces then can in certain cases show their surrender in an evident manner, by throwing away their weapons and raising their arms. 
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 1: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 1ère année, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, pp. 27, 33–34, 39 and 42–43; see also Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre III, Tome 2: Instruction de l’élève officier d’active de 2ème année, Manuel de l’instructeur, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, pp. 32–33; 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, pp. 46–47.
Dominican Republic
Under the Dominican Republic’s Military Manual (1980), displaying a white flag is, inter alia, a manner of expressing a wish to surrender. 
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. 6.
Ecuador
Ecuador’s Naval Manual (1989) states: “Customary international law recognizes the white flag as symbolizing a request to cease-fire, negotiate, or surrender.” 
Ecuador, Aspectos Importantes del Derecho Internacional Marítimo que Deben Tener Presente los Comandantes de los Buques, Academia de Guerra Naval, 1989, § 11.10.4.
France
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) recognizes the “white flag or flag of parlementaires”. 
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. 61.
Germany
Germany’s Soldiers’ Manual (1991) recognizes the white flag as the flag of parlementaires and the flag of surrendering combatants. 
Germany, Taschenkarte, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Grundsätze, Bearbeitet nach ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, Zentrum Innere Führung, June 1991, p. 6.
Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states that parlementaires “make themselves known by a white flag”. 
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 KonfliktenHandbuch, August 1992, § 223, see also Appendix 1/2.
Germany
Germany’s IHL Manual (1996) recognizes the white flag as the flag of parlementaires. 
Germany, ZDv 15/1, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Grundsätze, DSK VV230120023, Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, June 1996, Appendix 1/2, No. 11.
Germany
Germany’s Soldiers’ Manual (2006) recognizes the white flag as the flag of parlementaires and the flag of surrendering combatants. 
Germany, Druckschrift Einsatz Nr. 03, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten - Grundsätze, Erarbeitet nach ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten - Handbuch, DSK SF009320187, Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, R II 3, August 2006, p. 6.
Italy
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) recognizes the “white flag (flag of parlementaires used for negotiations and surrender)”. 
Italy, Regole elementari di diritto di guerra, SMD-G-012, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, p. 29.
Italy
Italy’s Combatant’s Manual (1998) states:
Parlementaires, i.e. those who request to meet with the Commanding Officer of the enemy unit to discuss a ceasefire or to surrender, are protected by the “White flag”.
IT IS PROHIBITED to deceive the enemy by raising a white flag and then opening fire.
IT IS PROHIBITED to carry out any act of violence against Parlementaires and their escort, unless they carry out a hostile act first. 
Italy, Manuale del Combattente, SME 1000/A/2, Stato Maggiore Esercito/Reparto Impiego delle Forze, Ufficio Dottrina, Addestramento e Regolamenti, 1998, § 247.
[emphasis in original]
Kenya
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) states: “The white flag or flag of truce indicates no more than an intention to enter into negotiations with the enemy. It does not necessarily mean a wish to surrender.” 
Kenya, Law of Armed Conflict, Military Basic Course (ORS), 4 Précis, The School of Military Police, 1997, Précis No. 4, p. 4.
Madagascar
Madagascar’s Military Manual (1994) states that the white flag is a means of contacting the enemy. 
Madagascar, Le Droit des Conflits Armés, Ministère des Forces Armées, August 1994, Fiche No. 9-SO, § C.
Mexico
Mexico’s Army and Air Force Manual (2009), in a section on “Distinctive signs”, states that the “white flag … [is] used for negotiation”. 
Mexico, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para el Ejército y la Fuerza Área Mexicanos, Ministry of National Defence, June 2009, p. 143.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that the white flag “indicates that the party who displays the flag wants to negotiate … In addition, the white flag is also accepted as a usual indication of surrender.” 
Netherlands, Toepassing Humanitair Oorlogsrecht, Voorschift No. 27-412/1, Koninklijke Landmacht, Ministerie van Defensie, 1993, p. IV-4.
Netherlands
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands states: “Displaying the white flag means that one wants to negotiate with the adverse party (for example about a cease-fire) or that one wants to surrender.” 
Netherlands, Handboek Militair, Ministerie van Defensie, 1995, p. 7-40; see also p. 7-37.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
The white flag indicates that the party flying the flag wishes to parley. This party must cease firing. The bearer of the white flag, and those accompanying this person, have a right to physical inviolability. The receiving party need not cease fire over the whole sector. The white flag is also accepted as the customary indication of a wish to surrender. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0418.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides: “The wish to negotiate by parlementaires is frequently indicated by the raising of a white flag … Parlementaires normally operate under a flag of truce.” 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 406(1) and (2).
The manual adds that the white flag is deployed:
1. When a person is authorised by one Party to enter into communications with the adverse Party; if used, the white flag should be carried by the parlementaire or an accompanying individual so as to be clearly visible.
2. If an element of the armed forces wishes to surrender to an adverse Party a white flag, when held so as to be clearly visible, may be utilized to facilitate a peaceful surrender. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, Annex B, § B44.
Nigeria
Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War notes:
The hoisting of a white flag means that a belligerent wishes to communicate with the enemy, either for the purpose of surrender or for some other purposes. Hoisting the white flag by a small number of soldiers usually [expresses] the wish to surrender; in the case of a large unit it is usually the expression of a wish to conduct negotiations. 
Nigeria, The Laws of War, by Lt. Col. L. Ode PSC, Nigerian Army, Lagos, undated, § 24.
Philippines
The Code of Ethics (1991) of the Philippines stresses that the white flag of truce is a “worldwide custom used to signal the temporary cessation of hostilities between warring parties”. 
Philippines, Armed Forces of the Philippines Code of Ethics, 1991, Article 5, Section 2(4.5).
Republic of Korea
The Republic of Korea’s Operational Law Manual (1996) states that it is the expression of surrender for a soldier or a unit to display a white flag. It is also generally used for initiating negotiations. 
Republic of Korea, Operational Law Manual, 1996, p. 179.
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states: “The white flag signifies the intention of those who have flown it to enter into negotiations with the opposite party and does not necessarily mean surrender.” 
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, § 67.
South Africa
South Africa’s LOAC Manual (1996) provides: “A white flag designates a truce, a request to negotiate or an indication of surrender.” 
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, § 23; see also § 37(d).
South Africa
South Africa’s LOAC Teaching Manual (2008) states:
Handling of War Victims
- When combatants surrender, they must clearly indicate this intention, eg by raising their arms and discarding their weapons. Remember, a white flag is NOT only a sign of surrender, but also a sign of a wish to negotiate. 
South Africa, Advanced Law of Armed Conflict Teaching Manual, School of Military Justice, 1 April 2008, as amended to 25 October 2013, Learning Unit 3, p. 192.
[emphasis in original]
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states: “The white flag is the distinctive sign of parlementaires.” 
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, § 5.2.d.(1).
The manual also states: “The usual and generally accepted way of expressing an intention to negotiate is to wave a white flag.” 
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, § 7.5.c.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Aide-Memoire on the Ten Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflict (2005) states:
Rule 8
I remain fair:
- I shall use the … white flag … in accordance with the rules (cf. Rule 10).These also protect my comrades and me;
Rule 10
I am familiar with the international protective signs and their meaning.  
Switzerland, The Ten Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflict, Aide-memoire 51.007/IIIe, Swiss Army, issued based on Article 10 of the Ordinance for Organization of the Federal Department for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports dated 7 March 2003, entry into force on 1 July 2005, Rules 5 and 8.
The Aide-Memoire further states with regard to the white flag:
Correct behaviour
- The White Flag clearly indicates willingness to negotiate, sometimes even willingness to surrender;
- Respect bearers of the White Flag. They are not allowed to be attacked.
Prohibited is/are:
- Attacks against bearers of the White Flag;
- Improper use of the White Flag in order to achieve a military advantage. 
Switzerland, The Ten Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflict, Aide-memoire 51.007/IIIe, Swiss Army, issued based on Article 10 of the Ordinance for Organization of the Federal Department for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports dated 7 March 2003, entry into force on 1 July 2005, Chart of Protective Signs.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states: “The white flag indicates that the enemy wants to negotiate. It can also indicate that the enemy wishes to surrender. Persons, buildings and vehicles marked with the white flag must not be attacked.” 
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, § 186.
Togo
Togo’s Military Manual (1996) recognizes the “white flag (flag of parlementaires used for negotiations and surrender)”. 
Togo, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Etat-major Général des Forces Armées Togolaises, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1996, Fascicule I, p. 16.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK Military Manual (1958) states:
From time immemorial a white flag has been used as a signal by an armed force which wishes to open communications with the enemy. This is the only meaning which the flag possesses in international law. The hoisting of a white flag, therefore, means in itself nothing else than one party is asked whether it will receive a communication from the other. It may indicate merely that the party which hoists it wishes to make an arrangement for the suspension of arms for some purpose; but it may also mean that the party wishes to negotiate for surrender. Everything depends on the circumstances and conditions of the particular case. For instance, in practice, the white flag has come to indicate surrender if hoisted by individual soldiers or a small party in the course of an action. Great vigilance is always necessary, for the question in every case is whether the hoisting of the white flag was authorised by the commander. 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, § 394.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states: “The white flag, or flag of truce, indicates no more than an intention to enter into negotiations with the enemy. It does not necessarily mean a wish to surrender.” 
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. 16, § 10.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
10.5. From time immemorial, a white flag has been used as a signal of a desire to open communications with the enemy. This is the only meaning that the white flag possesses in the law of armed conflict. Wilful abuse of a white flag that results in death or serious injury is a grave breach of Additional Protocol I.
10.5.1. The display of a white flag means only that one party is asked whether it will receive a communication from the other. In some cases it may also mean that the party that displays it wishes to make an arrangement for a temporary suspension of hostilities for a purpose, such as the evacuation of the wounded, but in other cases it may mean that the party wishes to negotiate for surrender. Everything depends on the circumstances and conditions of the particular case. For instance, in practice, the white flag has come to indicate surrender if displayed by individual soldiers or a small party in the course of an action.
10.5.2. Those who display a white flag should cease firing until the invitation has been answered. Any abuse of a white flag is likely to be a war crime. Great vigilance must, however, always be displayed in dealing with enemy forces that have displayed a white flag, because other enemy soldiers in the vicinity may be unaware of the display of the white flag and continue firing. This is especially likely where the decision to display a white flag was taken not by the enemy commander on behalf of the entire force under his command but by individual soldiers. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 10.5–10.5.2.
United States of America
The US Field Manual (1956) notes:
In the past, the normal means of initiating negotiations between belligerents has been the display of a white flag …
The white flag, when used by troops, indicates a desire to communicate with the enemy. The hoisting of a white flag has no other signification in international law. It may indicate that the party hoisting it desires to open communication with a view to an armistice or a surrender. If hoisted in action by an individual soldier or a small party, it may signify merely the surrender of that soldier or party. It is essential, therefore, to determine with reasonable certainty that the flag is shown by actual authority of the enemy commander before basing important action upon that assumption. 
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, § 458.
United States of America
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) states:
The white flag has traditionally indicated a desire to communicate with the enemy and may indicate more particularly, depending upon the situation, a willingness to surrender. It raises expectations that the particular struggle is at an end or close to an end since the only proper use of the flag of truce or white flag is to communicate to the enemy a desire to negotiate. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 8-6a.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states: “Customary international law recognizes the white flag as symbolizing a request to cease-fire, negotiate, or 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), § 11.9.5.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Customary international law recognizes the white flag as symbolizing a request to cease-fire, negotiate, or 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, § 8.5.1.5.
The Handbook also states: “Once an enemy warship has clearly indicated a readiness to surrender, such as by … hoisting a white flag … the attack must be discontinued.” 
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, § 8.6.1.
Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Military Manual (1988) states: “The white flag is the sign of a parlementaire and indicates the wish of a party to the conflict to enter into contact with the other side through the intermediary of the person carrying such flag.” 
Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of, Propisi o Primeri Pravila Medjunarodnog Ratnog Prava u Oruzanim Snagama SFRJ, PrU-2, Savezni Sekretarijat za Narodnu Odbranu (Pravna Uprava), 1988, § 119, commentary.
Venezuela
Venezuela’s Penal Code (2005) states:
The following shall be punished with military arrest or political prison for one to four years:
1. Venezuelan or foreign nationals who, during a war between Venezuela and another nation, violate the … principles observed by civilized peoples during war such as respect for … the flag of truce … , without prejudice to military laws which shall be specially applicable to these matters. 
Venezuela, Penal Code, 2005, Article 155(1).
No data.
Botswana
The Report on the Practice of Botswana considers the flag of truce as a traditional method to communicate with the enemy. 
Report on the Practice of Botswana, 1998, Chapter 2.2.
China
The Report on the Practice of China states: “As far as communication with the enemy is concerned, China follows the traditional way of raising white flags.” 
Report on the Practice of China, 1997, Chapter 2.2.
Malaysia
The Report on the Practice of Malaysia states: “The use of white flag is acknowledged as a sign of ceasing hostilities.” 
Report on the Practice of Malaysia, 1997, Answers to additional questions on Chapter 2.2.
Rwanda
On the basis of replies by army officers to a questionnaire, the Report on the Practice of Rwanda states that the flag of truce may be used to negotiate with the enemy on the battlefield. 
Report on the Practice of Rwanda, 1997, Replies by army officers to a questionnaire, Chapter 2.2.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s ABC of International Humanitarian Law (2009) states: “Other emblems with a protective function include the white flag for Combatants who wish to parley or surrender … . Improper use of these emblems is prohibited by law.” 
Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, ABC of International Humanitarian Law, 2009, p. 19.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
A training video produced by the UK Ministry of Defence emphasizes that the white flag is protective and that it only indicates a wish to negotiate, not to surrender. 
United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Training Video: The Geneva Conventions, 1986, Report on UK Practice, 1997, Chapter 2.2.
No data.
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ICRC
To fulfil its task of disseminating IHL, the ICRC has delegates around the world teaching armed and security forces that: “[The] white flag (flag of truce) [is] used for negotiations and surrender.” 
Frédéric de Mulinen, Handbook on the Law of War for Armed Forces, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 963.
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