Practice Relating to Rule 147. Reprisals against Protected Objects
Section A. Civilian objects in general
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991), referring to Article 52 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, states:
The basic rule in Article 52 is that civilian objects and civilian property may not constitute objectives for attack or be subjected to reprisals. The article does not represent any new thinking: but is, rather, a clarification of humanitarian principles established in older conventions.
While noting that the Swedish IHL Committee strongly discourages even this possibility in view of its manifestly inhuman effect, the manual states:
Under Additional Protocol I, reprisals are permitted only against military personnel. A state acceding to Additional Protocol I thereby accepts a limitation of its freedom to employ reprisals. The [Swedish International Humanitarian Law] Committee believes that this involves a considerable humanitarian advance.
Referring to Article 33 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV, the manual further states:
Protected persons may not be punished for actions they have not themselves performed. Collective punishment of a whole group is also prohibited. Also, the occupying power may not … destroy civilian property in reprisal for some action directed against the occupying power.
At the CDDH, Sweden, with respect to amendments made by other States concerning the prohibition of attacks against civilian objects by way of reprisals, stated that it was “in favour of such a ban”.