of an International Declaration concerning the Laws and Customs of War.
Brussels, 27 August 1874.
6, 7 and 8 address the types of property that may be seized or must be
Forum of adoption Brussels Conference
On the initiative of Czar Alexander II
of Russia the delegates of 15 European States met in Brussels on 27
July 1874 to examine the draft of an international agreement concerning
the laws and customs of war submitted to them by the Russian Government.
The Conference adopted the draft with minor alterations. However,
since not all the governments were willing to accept it as a binding
convention it was not ratified. The project nevertheless formed an
important step in the movement for the codification of the laws of
war. In the year in which it was adopted, the Institute of International
Law, at its session in Geneva, appointed a committee to study the
Brussels Declaration and to submit to the Institute its opinion and
supplementary proposals on the subject. The efforts of the Institute
led to the adoption of the Manual of the Laws and Customs of War at
Oxford in 1880. Both the Brussels Declaration and the Oxford Manual
formed the basis of the two Hague Conventions on land warfare and
the Regulations annexed to them, adopted in 1899 and 1907. Many of
provisions of the two Hague Conventions
can easily be traced back to the Brussels Declaration and the Oxford
Meetings of forum 27.08.1874,
Dade of adoption
Number of articles
D.Schindler and J.Toman, The Laws of Armed Conflicts, Martinus
Nihjoff Publisher, 1988, pp.22-34.
Project of an International Declaration
concerning the Laws and Customs of War. Brussels, 27 August 1874.
On military authority over hostile
Article 1. Territory is considered
occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile
The occupation extends only to the
territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.
Art. 2. The authority of the legitimate
Power being suspended and having in fact passed into the hands of
the occupants, the latter shall take all the measures in his power
to restore and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety.
Art. 3. With this object he shall
maintain the laws which were in force in the country in time of peace,
and shall not modify, suspend or replace them unless necessary.
Art. 4. The functionaries and employees
of every class who consent, on his invitation, to continue their functions,
shall enjoy his protection. They shall not be dismissed or subjected
to disciplinary punishment unless they fall in fulfilling the obligations
undertaken by them, and they shall not be prosecuted unless they betray
Art. 5. The army of occupation shall
only collect the taxes, dues, duties, and tolls imposed for the benefit
of the State, or their equivalent, if it is impossible to collect
them, and, as far as is possible, in accordance with the existing
forms and practice. It shall devote them to defraying the expenses
of the administration of the country to the same extent as the legitimate
Government was so obligated.
Art. 6. An army of occupation
can only take possession of cash, funds, and realizable securities
which are strictly the property of the State, depots of arms, means
of transport, stores and supplies, and generally, all movable property
belonging to the State which may be used for the operations of the
Railway plant, land telegraphs, steamers
and other ships, apart from cases governed by maritime law, as well
as depots of arms and, generally, all kinds of war material, even
if belonging to companies or to private persons, are likewise material
which may serve for military operations and which cannot be left by
the army of occupation at the disposal of the enemy. Railway plant,
land telegraphs, as well as steamers and other ships above mentioned
shall be restored and compensation fixed when peace is made.
Art. 7. The occupying State shall
be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings,
real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile
State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the
capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with
the rules of usufruct.
Art. 8. The property of municipalities,
that of institutions dedicated to religion, charity and education,
the arts and sciences even when State property, shall be treated as
All seizure or destruction of, or
wilful damage to, institutions of this character, historic monuments,
works of art and science should be made the subject of legal proceedings
by the competent authorities.
Who should be recognized as belligerents
combatants and non-combatants
Art. 9. The laws, rights, and duties
of war apply not only to armies, but also to militia and volunteer
fulfilling the following conditions:
1. That they be commanded by a person
responsible for his subordinates;
2. That they have a fixed distinctive
emblem recognizable at a distance;
3. That they carry arms openly; and
4. That they conduct their operations
in accordance with the laws and customs of war.
In countries where militia constitute
the army, or form part of it, they are included under the denomination
' army '.
Art. 10. The population of a territory
which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously
take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time
to organize themselves in accordance with Article 9, shall be regarded
as belligerents if they respect the laws and customs of war.
Art 11. The armed forces of the belligerent
parties may consist of combatants and non-combatants. In case of capture
by the enemy, both shall enjoy the rights of prisoners of war.
Means of injuring the enemy
Art. 12. The laws of war do not recognize
in belligerents an unlimited power in the adoption of means of injuring
Art. 13. According to this principle
are especially ' forbidden ':
(a) Employment of poison or poisoned
(b) Murder by treachery of individuals
belonging to the hostile nation or army;
(c) Murder of an enemy who, having
laid down his arms or having no longer means of defense, has surrendered
(d) The declaration that no quarter
will be given;
(e) The employment of arms, projectiles
or material calculated to cause unnecessary suffering, as well as
the use of projectiles prohibited by the Declaration of St. Petersburg
(f) Making improper use of a flag
of truce, of the national flag or of the military insignia and uniform
of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention;
(g) Any destruction or seizure of
the enemy's property that is not imperatively demanded by the necessity
Art. 14. Ruses of war and the employment
of measures necessary for obtaining information about the enemy and
the country (excepting the provisions of Article 36) are considered
Sieges and bombardments
Art. 15. Fortified places are alone
liable to be besieged. Open towns, agglomerations of dwellings, or
villages which are not defended can neither be attacked nor bombarded.
Art. 16. But if a town or fortress,
agglomeration of dwellings, or village, is defended, the officer in
command of an attacking force must, before commencing a bombardment,
except in assault, do all in his power to warn the authorities.
Art. 17. In such cases all necessary
steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated
to art, science, or charitable purposes, hospitals, and places where
the sick and wounded are collected provided they are not being used
at the time for military purposes.
It is the duty of the besieged to
indicate the presence of such buildings by distinctive and visible
signs to be communicated to the enemy beforehand
Art. 18. A town taken by assault
ought not to be given over to pillage by the victorious troops.
Art. 19. A person can only be considered
a spy when acting clandestinely or on false pretenses he obtains or
endeavours to obtain information in the districts occupied by the
enemy, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party.
Art. 20. A spy taken in the act shall
be tried and treated according to the laws in force in the army which
Art. 21. A spy who rejoins the army
to which he belongs and who is subsequently captured by the enemy
is treated as a prisoner of war and incurs no responsibility for his
Art. 22. Soldiers not wearing a disguise
who have penetrated into the zone of operations of the hostile army,
for the purpose of obtaining information, are not considered spies.
Similarly, the following should not
spies, if they are captured by the
enemy: soldiers (and also civilians, carrying out their mission openly)
entrusted with the delivery of dispatches intended either for their
own army or for the enemy's army.
To this class belong likewise, if
they are captured, persons sent in balloons for the purpose of carrying
dispatches and, generally, of maintaining communications between the
different parts of an army or a territory.
Prisoners of war
Art. 23. Prisoners of war are lawful
and disarmed enemies.
They are in the power of the hostile
Government, but not in that of the individuals or corps who captured
They must be humanely treated.
Any act of insubordination justifies
the adoption of such measures of severity as may be necessary. All
their personal belongings except arms shall remain their property.
Art. 24. Prisoners of war may be
interned in a town, fortress, camp, or other place, under obligation
not to go beyond certain fixed limits; but they can only be placed
in confinement as an indispensable measure of safety.
Art. 25. Prisoners of war may be
employed on certain public works which have no direct connection with
the operations in the theatre of war and which are not excessive or
humiliating to their military rank, if they belong to the army, or
to their official or social position, if they do not belong to it.
They may also, subject to such regulations
as may be drawn up by the military authorities, undertake private
Their wages shall go towards improving
their position or shall be paid to them on their release. In this
case the cost of maintenance may be deducted from said wages.
Art. 26. Prisoners of war cannot
be compelled in any way to take any part whatever in carrying on the
operations of the war.
Art. 27. The Government into whose
hands prisoners of war have fallen charges itself with their maintenance.
The conditions of such maintenance
may be settled by a reciprocal agreement between the belligerent parties.
In the absence of this agreement,
and as a general principle, prisoners of war shall be treated as regards
food and clothing, on the same footing as the troops of the Government
which captured them.
Art. 28. Prisoners of war are subject
to the laws and regulations in force in the army in whose power they
Arms may be used, after summoning,
against a prisoner of war attempting to escape. If recaptured he is
liable to disciplinary punishment or subject to a stricter surveillance.
If, after succeeding in escaping,
he is again taken prisoner, he is not liable to punishment for his
Art. 29. Every prisoner of war is
bound to give, if questioned on the subject, his true name and rank,
and if he infringes this rule, he is liable to a curtailment of the
advantages accorded to the prisoners of war of his class.
Art. 30. The exchange of prisoners
of war is regulated by a mutual understanding between the belligerent
Art. 31. Prisoners of war may be
set at liberty on parole if the laws of their country allow it, and,
in such cases, they are bound, on their personal honour, scrupulously
to fulfill, both towards their own Government and the Government by
which they were made prisoners, the engagements they have contracted.
In such cases their own Government
ought neither to require of nor accept from them any service incompatible
with the parole given.
Art. 32. A prisoner of war cannot
be compelled to accept his liberty on parole; similarly the hostile
Government is not obliged to accede to the request of the prisoner
to be set at liberty on parole.
Art. 33. Any prisoner of war liberated
on parole and recaptured bearing arms against the Government to which
he had pledged his honour may be deprived of the rights accorded to
prisoners of war and brought before the courts.
Art. 34. Individuals in the vicinity
of armies but not directly forming part of them, such as correspondents,
newspaper reporters, sutlers, contractors, etc., can also be made
prisoners. These prisoners should however be in possession of a permit
issued by the competent authority and of a certificate of identity.
The sick and wounded
Art. 35. The obligations of belligerents
with respect to the service of the sick and wounded are governed by
the Geneva Convention of 22 August 1864, save such modifications as
the latter may undergo.
On the military power with respect
to private persons
Art. 36. The population of occupied
territory cannot be forced to take part in military operations against
its own country.
Art. 37. The population of occupied
territory cannot be compelled to swear allegiance to the hostile Power.
Art. 38. Family honour and rights,
and the lives and property of persons, as well as their religious
convictions and their practice, must be respected.
Private property cannot be confiscated.
Art. 39. Pillage is formally forbidden.
On taxes and requisitions
Art. 40. As private property should
be respected, the enemy will demand from communes or inhabitants only
such payments and services as are connected with the generally recognized
necessities of war, in proportion to the resources of the country,
and not implying, with regard to the inhabitants, the obligation of
taking part in operations of war against their country.
Art. 41. The enemy in levying contributions,
whether as an equivalent for taxes (see Article 5) or for payments
that should be made in kind, or as fines, shall proceed, so far as
possible, only in accordance with the rules for incidence and assessment
in force in the territory occupied.
The civil authorities of the legitimate
Government shall lend it their assistance if they have remained at
Contributions shall be imposed only
on the order and on the responsibility of the commander in chief or
the superior civil authority established by the enemy in the occupied
For every contribution, a receipt
shall be given to the person furnishing it.
Art. 42. Requisitions shall be made
only with the authorization of the commander in the territory occupied.
For every requisition indemnity shall
be granted or a receipt delivered.
Art. 43. A person is regarded as
a parlementaire who has been authorized by one of the belligerents
to enter into communication with the other, and who advances bearing
a white flag, accompanied by a trumpeter (bugler or drummer) or also
by a flag-bearer. He shall have a right to inviolability as well as
the trumpeter (bugler or drummer) and the flag-bearer who accompany
Art. 44. The commander to whom a
parlementaire is sent is not in all cases and under all conditions
obliged to receive him.
It is lawful for him to take all
the necessary steps to prevent the parlementaire taking advantage
of his stay within the radius of the enemy's position to the prejudice
of the latter, and if the parlementaire has rendered himself guilty
of such an abuse of confidence, he has the right to detain him temporarily.
He may likewise declare beforehand
that he will not receive parlementaires during a certain period. Parlementaires
presenting themselves after such a notification, from the side to
which it has been given, forfeit the right of inviolability.
Art. 45. The parlementaire loses
his rights of inviolability if it is proved in a clear and incontestable
manner that he has taken advantage of his privileged position to provoke
or commit an act of treason.
Art. 46. The conditions of capitulations
are discussed between the Contracting Parties. They must not be contrary
to military honour. Once settled by a convention, they must be scrupulously
observed by both parties.
Art. 47. An armistice suspends military
operations by mutual agreement, between the belligerent parties. If
its duration is not defined, the belligerent parties may resume operations
at any time, provided always that the enemy is warned within the time
agreed upon, in accordance with the terms of the armistice.
Art. 48. The armistice may be general
or local. The first suspends the military operations of the belligerent
States everywhere; the second only between certain fractions of the
belligerent armies and within a fixed radius.
Art. 49. An armistice must be officially
and without delay notified to the competent authorities and to the
troops. Hostilities are suspended immediately after the notification.
Art. 50. It rests with the Contracting
Parties to settle, in the terms of the armistice, what communications
may be held between the populations.
Art. 51. The violation of the armistice
by one of the parties gives the other party the right of denouncing
Art. 52. A violation of the terms
of the armistice by individuals acting on their own initiative only
entitles the injured party to demand the punishment of the offenders
or, if necessary, compensation for the losses sustained.
Interned belligerents and wounded
cared for by neutrals
Art. 53. A neutral State which receives
on its territory troops belonging to the belligerent armies shall
intern them, as far as possible, at a distance from the theatre of
It may keep them in camps and even
confine them in fortresses or in places set apart for this purpose.
It shall decide whether officers
can be left at liberty on giving their parole not to leave the neutral
territory without permission.
Art. 54. In the absence of a special
convention, the neutral State shall supply the interned with the food,
clothing and relief required by humanity.
At the conclusion of peace the expenses
caused by the internment shall be made good.
Art. 55. A neutral State may authorize
the passage through its territory of the wounded or sick belonging
to the belligerent armies, on condition that the trains bringing them
shall carry neither personnel nor material of war.
In such a case, the neutral State
is bound to take whatever measures of safety and control are necessary
for the purpose.
Art. 56. The Geneva Convention applies
to sick and wounded interned in neutral territory.