Practice Relating to Rule 145. Reprisals
Section A. Definition and purpose of reprisals
Ecuador’s Naval Manual (1989) states:
A reprisal is an enforcement measure under the law of armed conflict consisting of an act which would otherwise be unlawful but which is justified as a response to the unlawful acts of an enemy. The sole purpose of a reprisal is to induce the enemy to cease its illegal activity and to comply with the law of armed conflict.
The manual further states:
To be valid, a reprisal action must conform to the following criteria:
2. It must respond to illegal acts of warfare committed by an adversary government, its military commanders, or combatants for which the adversary is responsible. Anticipatory reprisal is not authorized.
4. Its purpose must be to cause the enemy to cease its unlawful activity. Therefore, acts taken in reprisal should be brought to the attention of the enemy in order to achieve maximum effectiveness. Reprisal must never be taken for revenge.