Practice Relating to Rule 46. Orders or Threats That No Quarter Will Be Given
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states: “It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors, to threaten an adversary therewith or to conduct hostilities on this basis.”
With respect to non-international armed conflicts, the manual also states: “It is prohibited to order that there shall be no survivors.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
The individual is entitled to respect for his life, physical, mental and moral integrity and whatever is inseparable from his personality.
- The life of an enemy who surrenders must be spared.
The manual further states:
0408. Quarter means that an opponent must be given the opportunity to surrender and thereby survive. It is thus forbidden to order that no one shall survive, to threaten an opponent with this, or to wage war on this basis.
0709. Granting quarter (see also points 0408 ff.)
An adversary should be given the opportunity to surrender, even if there is doubt whether the person concerned is a combatant. Moreover, in the particular situation where combatants are taken as prisoners of war under battle conditions, when evacuation is not practicable, they should be released, and the necessary precautions taken to ensure their safety. One example might be a small reconnaissance unit which has ventured far into enemy territory.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
It is prohibited at all times
to refuse quarter to the sick, wounded and shipwrecked no longer participating in the combat, or to persons who have laid down their arms and wish to surrender. It is also prohibited to give or carry out an order in this sense.
[emphasis in original]
The Definition of War Crimes Decree (1946) of the Netherlands includes “directions to give no quarter” in its list of war crimes.
Under the International Crimes Act (2003) of the Netherlands, “declaring that no quarter will be given” constitutes a crime, whether in time of international or non-international armed conflict.