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15 Reprisals

From: The Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions in Context

Annyssa Bellal, Stuart Casey-Maslen

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 10 December 2023

Armed conflict, international — War crimes — Geneva Conventions 1949 — Customary international law — Reprisals

This chapter looks into reprisals, which had been the primary means of enforcing respect for the laws of war despite being inherently barbaric and unjust for the victims. It starts with the international humanitarian law (IHL) outlawing reprisals, but a comprehensive prohibition has not been incorporated in treaty law or custom law. However, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) insisted that reprisals remain lawfully subjected to stringent conditions. The chapter then explicates the interpretation and application of the rules governing reprisals within the Geneva Conventions, 1977 Additional Protocols, rules of customary law, international criminal law, and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. It covers the concept of a belligerent reprisal and its conditions for lawful exercise under general international law.

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