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Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law [MPEPIL]

Non-Defended Towns

Jean-Marie Henckaerts

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2015. All Rights Reserved.date: 26 May 2019

Subject(s):
Necessity — Armed forces — Weapons — Armed conflict — Occupation — Belligerence — Geneva Conventions 1949

Published under the auspices of the Max Planck Foundation for International Peace and the Rule of Law under the direction of Rüdiger Wolfrum.

1 The concept of non-defended, or undefended, towns is rooted in the traditional concept of an ‘open town’. Generally speaking, an open town is a locality which a party to the conflict unilaterally declares to be open for occupation ( Occupation, Belligerent ), ie which is not defended, and therefore may not be attacked. 2 The reason for this rule is that there is no military necessity to attack a place that is not being defended. It can simply be occupied without resistance, or bypassed. Enemy troops are likely to have withdrawn. Any remaining troops can be taken...
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