Practice Relating to Rule 36. Demilitarized Zones
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) notes that demilitarized zones are areas established by an agreement between the belligerents and designed to protect especially vulnerable sectors of the population from the effects of war. The manual refers to Article 60 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states that the zones in which military operations are not permitted include demilitarized zones.
The manual further states:
It is in the mutual interest of the parties to the conflict to establish protected areas where particularly vulnerable sectors of the population can be kept safe from the effects of war. In addition to those specifically provided for in the law of armed conflict, which are listed below, other protected areas can be organized through special agreements.
1.3.e.(2). Demilitarized zones
These are areas where military operations cannot be carried out and are accorded this status by express agreement of the parties to the conflict.
According to Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996), demilitarized zones are areas in which military operations may not be carried out and against which attacks are prohibited. The manual refers to Article 60 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
The manual further states that “launching an attack against demilitarized zones” constitutes a war crime.
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states:
It is prohibited to extend military operations to zones on which the parties to the conflict have conferred by agreement the status of demilitarized zone, if such extension is contrary to the terms of the agreement.
If one of the parties commits an act of hostility in any such area or uses it for purposes relating to military operations, the other party is released from its obligations in this regard.
Spain’s Penal Code (1995) provides for the punishment of “anyone who, in the event of armed conflict, should … knowingly violate the protection due to … demilitarized zones … which are duly identified with signs or the appropriate distinctive signals”.
Spain’s Penal Code (1995), as amended in 2003, states:
Anyone who [commits any of the following acts] during armed conflict shall be punished with three to seven years’ imprisonment:
1. Knowingly violating the protection owed to … demilitarized zones which are marked by the appropriate distinctive signs.