Practice Relating to Rule 50. Destruction and Seizure of Property of an Adversary
France’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975), as amended in 1982, states that, under international conventions, “any wanton destruction” is prohibited.
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) provides: “Destructions not required by the mission … are forbidden.”
The Summary Note adds that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessities and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” are grave breaches of the law of war and war crimes.
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) provides: “Destruction not required by the mission is forbidden.”
The Teaching Note further states that “extensive destruction and appropriation of property not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” are grave breaches of the law of armed conflict and war crimes.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) states that “extensive destruction or appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity, and carried out unlawfully and wantonly” is a war crime for which there is no statute of limitation under the 1998 ICC Statute.
In the Holstein case
before a French Military Tribunal in 1947, some of the accused, members of various German units, were found guilty of war crimes for having destroyed by arson inhabited buildings. The Tribunal found that there was no necessity to set the houses on fire, as required by Article 23(g) of the 1907 Hague Regulations. The acts of arson committed were thus not justified by the laws and customs of war.