Yugoslavia, Socialist Federal Republic of
Practice Relating to Rule 38. Attacks against Cultural Property
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Military Manual (1988) prohibits the exposure of cultural property to combat actions and hostile acts which could destroy or damage the cultural property and obliges officers to assist in the preservation of cultural property on the basis of information received from the enemy. It permits attacks on cultural property “in case of military need”, but places this exemption under the limitation that the “authority to make such a decision rests with high officers, division commanders and higher ranks”. It further states that cultural property used for military purposes is deprived of its immunity, regardless of proper marking, as long as such a situation lasts.
The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s Penal Code (1976), as amended in 2001, punishes anyone who “in violation of international law applicable to war or armed conflict, destroys cultural or historic monuments and buildings, or scientific, art, educational or humanitarian institutions” and provides a heavier penalty “if a clearly discernible object from paragraph 1 of this article is destroyed and it represents the cultural and spiritual heritage of that people under special protection of international law”.
In Order No. 579 issued in 1991, the Chief of General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) stated:
Any attack on cultural and other protected objects (churches, historical monuments, …) is strictly prohibited, except when these objects are used to launch attacks on YPA units. In such cases, the commanding officer in charge shall, before opening fire, warn the opposing side in an appropriate manner to stop fire and vacate the objects in question.
In 1992, during the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia denounced the destruction of churches, icons and religious books by Croatia.
In 1992, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia qualified the destruction of “historical monuments representing the landmarks of Serbian civilization” in Bosnia and Herzegovina as “flagrant violations of human rights and breaches of humanitarian law”.
In 1993, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia strongly opposed “the shelling of cities, especially Sarajevo, and the destruction of villages, infrastructure, churches and cultural monuments”.