Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states:
1. The first step to ensuring observance of the law is to make the law known to those whose conduct it is intended to regulate. With this in view, the various Conventions relating to the law of armed conflict impose an obligation upon their parties to disseminate the particular Convention among their armed forces.
2. The manner in which dissemination is effected is left to the various States, but is normally carried out by means of instruction courses or through the medium of commentaries upon particular Conventions or manuals devoted to the law of armed conflict.
The manual further states that in the armed forces, in addition to courses conducted at various rank levels, “the publications of the International Committee of the Red Cross are available for reference”.
In 1999, during a debate in the UN Security Council, New Zealand noted that “the dissemination of international humanitarian law needs our fullest support, so that the knowledge of the basic rules governing armed conflict … spreads to all those who bear arms” and stressed that this was of “fundamental importance”.
In 2008, in its combined third and fourth periodic reports to the Committee on the Rights of the Child, New Zealand stated: “Army recruits … receive information on the Law on Armed Conflict and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict.”
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1995) states:
It is incumbent upon a commanding officer to ensure that the forces under his command behave in a manner consistent with the laws and customs of war … and it is part of his responsibility to ensure that the troops under his command are aware of their obligations.