Practice Relating to Rule 29. Medical Transports
Section A. Respect for and protection of medical transports
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states: “Medical transport and medical means of transportation (vehicles, ships and aircraft) must be respected and protected.”
The manual repeats this rule with respect to non-international armed conflicts.
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands provides: “Medical transports may not be attacked … Medical transports, whether on water, on land or in the air, must also be respected. Such transport may not, however, be used as normal military transport.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Section 6 - Medical transport
0624. Medical transport and medical means of transport (vehicles, vessels and aircraft) must be respected and protected. Medical means of transport form part of the equipment of medical units …
0625. A number of terms are important in this connection:
- medical transport covers the conveyance by land, water or air of the wounded, sick, medical personnel, religious personnel, medical equipment or medical supplies;
- medical transport means any means of transportation, whether military or civilian, permanent or temporary, assigned exclusively to medical purposes;
- medical vehicle means any medical transport by land;
- medical ships and boats mean any medical transports by water;
- medical aircraft means any medical transports by air.
0626. Medical transports should generally be permanently destined for medical purposes. It is also possible to allocate means of transport temporarily to medical transportation. In case of temporary allocation, clear instructions are required to prevent misuse of medical protection. In any case, the purpose of vehicles, ships and boats and aircraft must not change during an operation. In the course of an armed conflict, however, a change of purpose is possible.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
Medical units and means of transport must be respected and protected. They may not be attacked. Their protection ends only when they are used to carry out hostile acts outside the scope of their humanitarian task. Even then, a warning must first be given.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states: “Attacks on medical facilities or transports are strictly prohibited.”