History UsefulNotes / TheLawsAndCustomsOfWar

16th Mar '18 4:29:26 PM GMantis
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After the war the Poles and Soviets attempted to have the German commanders in Anglo-American custody who had enforced these orders tried for war crimes. They were partially successful in that some of the actions of some figures, even a few of the ones [[UsefulNotes/WeAreNotTheWehrmacht important to the rearmament of West Germany]] including [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Guderian#Later_life_and_death Heinz Guderian]], were eventually investigated by US and British commissions. Ultimately a full thirteen of these people (including Marshalls Kesselring and Manstein, who had been in British custody) were convicted of War Crimes and served up to five years in jail before their early release for reasons of 'good behaviour' and poor health.

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After the war the Poles and Soviets attempted to have the German commanders in Anglo-American custody who had enforced these orders tried for war crimes. They were partially successful in that some of the actions of some figures, even a few of the ones [[UsefulNotes/WeAreNotTheWehrmacht important to the rearmament of West Germany]] including [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Guderian#Later_life_and_death Heinz Guderian]], were eventually investigated by US and British commissions. Ultimately a full thirteen of these people (including Marshalls Kesselring and Manstein, who had been in British custody) were convicted of War Crimes and served up to five years in jail before their early release for reasons of 'good behaviour' and poor health.'poor health'.
16th Mar '18 4:27:05 PM GMantis
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Wounding or killing combatants is not a war crime. '''Combatants''' are people who fight (e.g. infantry) or directly assist those fighting (e.g. logistics personnel). Wounding or killing '''noncombatants''', i.e. civilians, is a war crime. That means, for example, a computer programmer or network technician setting up a military network is a legitimate military target, but a programmer or tech setting up a computer network for a news bureau, even though they are filming in a war zone, is not. This is why anyone who works in a combat or combat logistics position wears a uniform while on duty ''even if they are not in a combat area'', so that combatants and civilians are clearly distinguished. Wounding or killing combatants who have surrendered, [[SinkTheLifeBoats are leaving damaged vehicles]], or become '[[KickThemWhileTheyAreDown hors de combat]]' ("outside the fight," i.e. incapable of fighting) all constitute war crimes. It is a war crime for a combatant to disguise themselves as a civilian with the intent to attack, but disguising themselves for any other reason, including desertion and escape, is perfectly legal.

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Wounding or killing combatants is not a war crime. '''Combatants''' are people who fight (e.g. infantry) or directly assist those fighting (e.g. logistics personnel). Wounding or killing '''noncombatants''', i.e. civilians, is a war crime. That means, for example, a computer programmer or network technician setting up a military network is a legitimate military target, but a programmer or tech setting up a computer network for a news bureau, even though they are filming in a war zone, is not. This is why anyone who works in a combat or combat logistics position wears a uniform while on duty ''even if they are not in a combat area'', so that combatants and civilians are clearly distinguished. Wounding or killing combatants who have surrendered, [[SinkTheLifeBoats are leaving damaged vehicles]], vehicles]] (except tank crews leaving damaged tanks), or become '[[KickThemWhileTheyAreDown hors de combat]]' ("outside the fight," i.e. incapable of fighting) all constitute war crimes. It is a war crime for a combatant to disguise themselves as a civilian with the intent to attack, but disguising themselves for any other reason, including desertion and escape, is perfectly legal.
16th Mar '18 4:25:28 PM GMantis
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Once taken to a camp (these have to be designated in a way that aircraft can see them and should be well away from the front line), prisoners are to be well treated. ([[SarcasmMode How well they were treated made headlines when the fate of Vietnam War prisoners became common knowledge]], but the Vietnamese could just point out [[CrapsackWorld their own civilian population endured similar misery in their everyday life back then]].) They are allowed to write letters home and receive them--although the captors are allowed to censor these communications, so long as it is done reasonably quickly--UsefulNotes/TheRedCross can send them parcels with food and religious freedom is allowed. You also are allowed pay in line with your rank.

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Once taken to a camp (these have to be designated in a way that aircraft can see them and should be well away from the front line), prisoners are to be well treated. ([[SarcasmMode How well they were treated made headlines when the fate of Vietnam War prisoners became common knowledge]], but the Vietnamese could just point out [[CrapsackWorld their own civilian population endured similar misery in their everyday life back then]].then and North Vietnamese prisoners were treated even worse]].) They are allowed to write letters home and receive them--although the captors are allowed to censor these communications, so long as it is done reasonably quickly--UsefulNotes/TheRedCross can send them parcels with food and religious freedom is allowed. You also are allowed pay in line with your rank.
16th Mar '18 4:22:36 PM GMantis
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Under Article 42 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977), aircrews parachuting from disabled aircraft are not to be fired upon, as they are already out of the fight and now completely helpless to defend themselves. In the European Theatre during World War II, any pilot who intentionally fired at parachuting aircrews in sight of the enemy effectively [[BerserkButton signed their own death warrant]]. Any enemy fighter pilots in the area would ditch all other priorities just to take the son of a bitch down.

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Under Article 42 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977), aircrews parachuting from disabled aircraft are not to be fired upon, as they are already out of the fight and now completely helpless to defend themselves. In the European Theatre during World War II, any pilot who intentionally fired at parachuting aircrews in sight of the enemy effectively [[BerserkButton signed their own death warrant]].warrant]] (except on the Eastern Front, where the Germans deliberately refused to follow the laws of war and the Soviets retaliated in kind). Any enemy fighter pilots in the area would ditch all other priorities just to take the son of a bitch down.
13th Feb '18 2:15:09 AM Cryoclaste
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There was a distinct difference in the interpretation of this order in 'the east' and in 'the west'. In countries with racially acceptable populations which were to become German puppets after Germany won, it was often interpreted to mean 'the deportation of the male population for slave labour'. In countries with racially undesirable populations which were to be largely or totally eliminated to make room for German settlement, it was understood as 'death for 100 civilians for every member of the military killed by partisan action.' [[AnOfficerAndAGentleman More understanding local commanders would consult with local leaders and attempt to fulfill their quotas using 'inessential' members of communities]] such as Jews or Romani ([[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust before they were deported in 1942]]), disabled or mentally ill people, gays, the elderly, or children. In roughly that order.

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There was a distinct difference in the interpretation of this order in 'the east' and in 'the west'. In countries with racially acceptable populations which were to become German puppets after Germany won, it was often interpreted to mean 'the deportation of the male population for slave labour'. In countries with racially undesirable populations which were to be largely or totally eliminated to make room for German settlement, it was understood as 'death for 100 civilians for every member of the military killed by partisan action.' [[AnOfficerAndAGentleman [[OfficerAndAGentleman More understanding local commanders would consult with local leaders and attempt to fulfill their quotas using 'inessential' members of communities]] such as Jews or Romani ([[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust before they were deported in 1942]]), disabled or mentally ill people, gays, the elderly, or children. In roughly that order.
31st Jan '18 7:43:47 PM infernape612
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A ceasefire simply means a temporary cessation of hostilities, whether in one sector (for allowing prisoner exchanges, collecting of the wounded)or theatre-wide (usually as prelude to the cessation of the conflict as a whole) , while an armistice is the wartime equivalent of the end of the fighting stage before the final resolution, it means in essence that sides are recalling their Generals and sending in the diplomats.

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A ceasefire simply means a temporary cessation of hostilities, whether in one sector (for allowing prisoner exchanges, collecting of the wounded)or wounded) or theatre-wide (usually as prelude to the cessation of the conflict as a whole) , while an armistice is the wartime equivalent of the end of the fighting stage before the final resolution, it means in essence that sides are recalling their Generals and sending in the diplomats.
31st Jan '18 7:17:20 PM infernape612
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[[RapePillageandBurn Deliberately wounding or killing civilians]] is a war crime, as is issuing or obeying orders to wound or kill civilians. This is subject to some fine distinctions, however; if civilians are in or near a legitimate military target, it is not generally considered a war crime to destroy the target in the absence of other options. This is how it was not considered a war crime for the various belligerents during World War II to go around bombing each others' factories--the factories were generally producing either war materiel or other items necessary or useful to the war effort, and thus the fact that the workers were civilians was considered less important than the military character of the goods they produced. More contentious was the RAF and US Army Air Force's 1944-45 attempts to more efficiently destroy factories and rail hubs by creating firestorms in the urban areas around them, and the ''Luftwaffe'' and RAF's attempts to create firestorms in urban areas with no industrial plant or rail infrastructure in order to 'demoralize' enemy populations unarguably constituted war crimes.

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[[RapePillageandBurn [[RapePillageAndBurn Deliberately wounding or killing civilians]] is a war crime, as is issuing or obeying orders to wound or kill civilians. This is subject to some fine distinctions, however; if civilians are in or near a legitimate military target, it is not generally considered a war crime to destroy the target in the absence of other options. This is how it was not considered a war crime for the various belligerents during World War II to go around bombing each others' factories--the factories were generally producing either war materiel or other items necessary or useful to the war effort, and thus the fact that the workers were civilians was considered less important than the military character of the goods they produced. More contentious was the RAF and US Army Air Force's 1944-45 attempts to more efficiently destroy factories and rail hubs by creating firestorms in the urban areas around them, and the ''Luftwaffe'' and RAF's attempts to create firestorms in urban areas with no industrial plant or rail infrastructure in order to 'demoralize' enemy populations unarguably constituted war crimes.
6th Jan '18 12:38:12 PM angie710
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Technically not illegal, but strongly discouraged for fear of reprisal with deadly chemical weapons. Oddly enough, use of tear gas is banned in normal warfare but legal for use by civilian law enforcement. It's also legal to tear gas your own troops as part of their training. Citing how common UrbanWarfare is in the modern [[TheWarOnTerror War on Terror]], many U.S. service members have begun to criticize the arbitrary ban on tear gas, as it would actually save lives lost on both sides in deadly house-to-house fighting by forcing the occupants out into the open where they can be sorted out non-lethally.

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Technically not illegal, but strongly discouraged for fear of reprisal with deadly chemical weapons. [[FridgeLogic Oddly enough, use of tear gas is banned in normal warfare but legal for use by civilian law enforcement.enforcement]]. It's also legal to tear gas your own troops as part of their training. Citing how common UrbanWarfare is in the modern [[TheWarOnTerror War on Terror]], many U.S. service members have begun to criticize the arbitrary ban on tear gas, as it would actually save lives lost on both sides in deadly house-to-house fighting by forcing the occupants out into the open where they can be sorted out non-lethally.
3rd Jan '18 5:54:53 AM Matchstick
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There was a distinct difference in the interpretation of this order in 'the east' and in 'the west'. In countries with racially acceptable populations which were to become German puppets after Germany won, it was often interpreted to mean 'the deportation of the male population for slave labour'. In countries with racially undesirable populations which were to be largely or totally eliminated to make room for German settlement, it was understood as 'death for 100 civilians for every member of the military killed by partisan action." [[AnOfficerAndAGentleman More understanding local commanders would consult with local leaders and attempt to fulfill their quotas using 'inessential' members of communities]] such as Jews or Romani ([[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust before they were deported in 1942]]), disabled or mentally ill people, gays, the elderly, or children. In roughly that order.

to:

There was a distinct difference in the interpretation of this order in 'the east' and in 'the west'. In countries with racially acceptable populations which were to become German puppets after Germany won, it was often interpreted to mean 'the deportation of the male population for slave labour'. In countries with racially undesirable populations which were to be largely or totally eliminated to make room for German settlement, it was understood as 'death for 100 civilians for every member of the military killed by partisan action." ' [[AnOfficerAndAGentleman More understanding local commanders would consult with local leaders and attempt to fulfill their quotas using 'inessential' members of communities]] such as Jews or Romani ([[UsefulNotes/TheHolocaust before they were deported in 1942]]), disabled or mentally ill people, gays, the elderly, or children. In roughly that order.



Mercenaries, even if they are uniformed regular units conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war, are still specifically not covered by the Geneva Conventions as specified by Article 47 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977). Terrorists are ''not'' covered by the Geneva Conventions--they fail eligibility under Geneva III because of their failure to meet the standards listed above[[note]]There is no universally agreed upon definition of what a "terrorist" is, so by some definitions of the term, some terrorists may be eligible to be [=POWs=][[/note]], and they are not covered as civilians under Geneva IV because Geneva IV does not apply to individuals taking a direct part in ongoing hostilities, only to noncombatants and similar personnel. In addition, the usual ''tactics'' of terrorists, most especially random attacks against noncombatants, are themselves acts specifically proscribed by Geneva IV. However, article 75 of the First Additional Protocol establishes certain very basic minimum protections that apply to ''everyone'' regardless of whatever categories of eligibility they may or may not qualify for, including terrorists/unlawful combatants.

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Mercenaries, even if they are uniformed regular units conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war, are still specifically not covered by the Geneva Conventions as specified by Article 47 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977). Terrorists are ''not'' covered by the Geneva Conventions--they fail eligibility under Geneva III because of their failure to meet the standards listed above[[note]]There is no universally agreed upon definition of what a "terrorist" is, so by some definitions of the term, some terrorists may be eligible to be [=POWs=][[/note]], and they are not covered as civilians under Geneva IV because Geneva IV does not apply to individuals taking a direct part in ongoing hostilities, hostilities; only to noncombatants and similar personnel.similar. In addition, the usual ''tactics'' of terrorists, most especially random attacks against noncombatants, are themselves acts specifically proscribed by Geneva IV. However, article 75 of the First Additional Protocol establishes certain very basic minimum protections that apply to ''everyone'' regardless of whatever categories of eligibility they may or may not qualify for, including terrorists/unlawful combatants.
3rd Jan '18 5:03:05 AM Matchstick
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* The Hague Convention (1899) (and the second Hague Convention (1907)) that led to rules of declaring and conducting warfare.

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* The Hague Convention (1899) (and [and the second Hague Convention (1907)) (1907)] that led to rules of declaring and conducting warfare.



Note that this article is written primarily from an American perspective - while the ''international'' laws of war are just that, several parts of the article reference policies implemented in the USA, but not necessarily elsewhere.

!![[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dum-dum Dum-Dum Bullets]]

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Note that this article is written primarily from an American perspective - while perspective--while the ''international'' laws of war are just that, several parts of the article reference policies implemented in the USA, but not necessarily elsewhere.

!![[http://en.!! [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dum-dum Dum-Dum Bullets]]



!!Hollowpoints

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!!Hollowpoints!! Hollowpoints



The reason behind the ban on both hollowpoints and Dum-Dums is the idea that military weapons should serve a military purpose, and no more. That is, follow the idea of Least Suffering - a weapon should cause the minimum amount of damage to incapacitate a person, and no more, or kill someone quickly, rather than maim. Intentionally maiming an opponent serves no moral purpose that a "normal" wound wouldn't, and therefore is excessive, and banned. In reality, at least in modern ammunition design, expanding ammunition is designed to kill the target ''faster'', though that's not what the thinking was in 1899.

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The reason behind the ban on both hollowpoints and Dum-Dums is the idea that military weapons should serve a military purpose, and no more. That is, follow the idea of Least Suffering - a Suffering--a weapon should cause the minimum amount of damage to incapacitate a person, and no more, or kill someone quickly, rather than maim. Intentionally maiming an opponent serves no moral purpose that a "normal" wound wouldn't, and therefore is excessive, and banned. In reality, at least in modern ammunition design, expanding ammunition is designed to kill the target ''faster'', though that's not what the thinking was in 1899.



!!Tear Gas

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!!Tear !! Tear Gas



!!Combatants

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!!Combatants!! Combatants



!!Civilians

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!!Civilians
!! Civilians



!!Persons parachuting from disabled aircraft

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!!Persons !! Persons parachuting from disabled aircraft



!!Name, rank and number- Prisoners Of War

There are actually four Geneva Conventions- number three being the relevant one for [=POWs=].

!!Being taken prisoner

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!!Name, !! Name, rank and number- Prisoners number--Prisoners Of War

There are actually four Geneva Conventions- number Conventions--number three being the relevant one for [=POWs=].

!!Being !! Being taken prisoner



Any unit of any armed force in an untenable situation may surrender, from an individual soldier to a platoon to a whole division to the entire armed forces of a state (at which point that state is deemed to have ended its participation in the conflict). A surrender can be under conditions or unconditional, the latter meaning that only international law applies. The Allies in World War Two demanded- and got - an unconditional surrender from Germany.[[note]]They got one from Japan, as well. Italy, however, did ''not'' surrender: it [[HeelFaceTurn switched sides]].[[/note]] It has been argued that the end of the war in Europe is also a case of ''debellatio'', completely destroying a hostile state, as Nazi Germany ceased to exist.

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Any unit of any armed force in an untenable situation may surrender, from an individual soldier to a platoon to a whole division to the entire armed forces of a state (at which point that state is deemed to have ended its participation in the conflict). A surrender can be under conditions or unconditional, the latter meaning that only international law applies. The Allies in World War Two demanded- and got - an demanded--and got--an unconditional surrender from Germany.[[note]]They got one from Japan, as well. Italy, however, did ''not'' surrender: it [[HeelFaceTurn switched sides]].[[/note]] It has been argued that the end of the war in Europe is also a case of ''debellatio'', completely destroying a hostile state, as Nazi Germany ceased to exist.



!!In captivity

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!!In !! In captivity



!!Being forced to work

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!!Being !! Being forced to work



!!Torture of ''anyone'' in ''any way'' is a war crime

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!!Torture !! Torture of ''anyone'' in ''any way'' is a war crime



!!Medical Experiments

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!!Medical !! Medical Experiments



!!Escaping

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!!Escaping
!! Escaping



!!Medics and chaplains

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!!Medics !! Medics and chaplains



!!Lawful Combatants

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!!Lawful !! Lawful Combatants



Mercenaries, even if they are uniformed regular units conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war, are still specifically not covered by the Geneva Conventions as specified by Article 47 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977). Terrorists are ''not'' covered by the Geneva Conventions - they fail eligibility under Geneva III because of their failure to meet the standards listed above[[note]]There is no universally agreed upon definition of what a "terrorist" is, so by some definitions of the term, some terrorists may be eligible to be [=POWs=][[/note]], and they are not covered as civilians under Geneva IV because Geneva IV does not apply to individuals taking a direct part in ongoing hostilities, only to noncombatants and similar personnel. In addition, the usual ''tactics'' of terrorists, most especially random attacks against noncombatants, are themselves acts specifically proscribed by Geneva IV. However, article 75 of the First Additional Protocol establishes certain very basic minimum protections that apply to ''everyone'' regardless of whatever categories of eligibility they may or may not qualify for, including terrorists/unlawful combatants.

to:

Mercenaries, even if they are uniformed regular units conducting operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war, are still specifically not covered by the Geneva Conventions as specified by Article 47 of the First Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (1977). Terrorists are ''not'' covered by the Geneva Conventions - they Conventions--they fail eligibility under Geneva III because of their failure to meet the standards listed above[[note]]There is no universally agreed upon definition of what a "terrorist" is, so by some definitions of the term, some terrorists may be eligible to be [=POWs=][[/note]], and they are not covered as civilians under Geneva IV because Geneva IV does not apply to individuals taking a direct part in ongoing hostilities, only to noncombatants and similar personnel. In addition, the usual ''tactics'' of terrorists, most especially random attacks against noncombatants, are themselves acts specifically proscribed by Geneva IV. However, article 75 of the First Additional Protocol establishes certain very basic minimum protections that apply to ''everyone'' regardless of whatever categories of eligibility they may or may not qualify for, including terrorists/unlawful combatants.



!!No Quarter

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!!No !! No Quarter



!!Showing Your True Colours

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!!Showing !! Showing Your True Colours



A ship is allowed to fly the flags of an opposing or neutral nation (although protected symbols are banned) as it approaches an enemy vessel or the coast. However, before it engages the enemy, it has to lower the colours it is flying and reveal its true colours. Witness the [[AWolfInSheepsClothing Q-Ships]] of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo, converted merchant ships loaded with [[NighInvulnerable things which float like cork, balsa]] and [[{{Irony}} wooden coffins]] to render them nearly unsinkable- and also large artillery hidden by drop-down panels. When an enemy submarine approached to close range and surfaced to attack with a deck gun, [[OhCrap the colors were raised, and the panels were dropped.]]

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A ship is allowed to fly the flags of an opposing or neutral nation (although protected symbols are banned) as it approaches an enemy vessel or the coast. However, before it engages the enemy, it has to lower the colours it is flying and reveal its true colours. Witness the [[AWolfInSheepsClothing Q-Ships]] of UsefulNotes/WorldWarOne and UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo, converted merchant ships loaded with [[NighInvulnerable things which float like cork, balsa]] and [[{{Irony}} wooden coffins]] to render them nearly unsinkable- and unsinkable--and also large artillery hidden by drop-down panels. When an enemy submarine approached to close range and surfaced to attack with a deck gun, [[OhCrap the colors were raised, and the panels were dropped.]]



This is not as relevant these days- it's a lot harder to disguise a particular cruiser type than a sailing ship and naval warfare these days takes place at far longer ranges. There is a story of a British aircraft carrier pretending to be a Pakistani cruise liner on radar (by broadcasting such a registration beacon and answering hails in ''Urdu'') in order to sneak up on some Americans during a training exercise. The USN was only alerted to the deception when the British opened fire. When they protested that the British should have announced their identity beforehand, the British argued that [[RulesLawyer they had been flying the physical Pakistani flag the whole time (see the note), and raised the physical White Ensign when they launched...but of course, the USN was too far away to see them.]] [[note]]The inside joke is that Pakistan's official language is English, and that is what would be used by a real Pakistani merchant vessel (Urdu is the most-spoken language of Pakistan, but English is the language of government) and Pakistani ships do not fly the Pakistani flag, they fly the merchant ensign, the British were counting upon American crews being unaware of this fact......[[BatmanGambit but that's another trope.]][[/note]]

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This is not as relevant these days- it's days--it's a lot harder to disguise a particular cruiser type than a sailing ship and naval warfare these days takes place at far longer ranges. There is a story of a British aircraft carrier pretending to be a Pakistani cruise liner on radar (by broadcasting such a registration beacon and answering hails in ''Urdu'') in order to sneak up on some Americans during a training exercise. The USN was only alerted to the deception when the British opened fire. When they protested that the British should have announced their identity beforehand, the British argued that [[RulesLawyer they had been flying the physical Pakistani flag the whole time (see the note), and raised the physical White Ensign when they launched... but of course, the USN was too far away to see them.]] [[note]]The inside joke is that Pakistan's official language is English, and that is what would be used by a real Pakistani merchant vessel (Urdu is the most-spoken language of Pakistan, but English is the language of government) and Pakistani ships do not fly the Pakistani flag, they fly the merchant ensign, the British were counting upon American crews being unaware of this fact......fact... [[BatmanGambit but that's another trope.]][[/note]]



!!Perfidy

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!!Perfidy
!! Perfidy



* Note that the last two are only illegal if you're going to ''attack''. Doing these in order to desert or to escape the battlefield are not illegal (but your own side will, of course, shoot you - presumably after a trial, we hope - if they catch you deserting).
* Pretending to be UN forces, members of the Red Cross[=/=]Red Crescent, or other international organisations. Note that if the UN is running a military operation (e.g. UsefulNotes/TheKoreanWar), you're allowed to use their logo on your tank ... it's when the UN doesn't give you permission and you use it that you're running afoul of Article 38.

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* Note that the last two are only illegal if you're going to ''attack''. Doing these in order to desert or to escape the battlefield are not illegal (but your own side will, of course, shoot you - presumably you--presumably after a trial, we hope - if hope--if they catch you deserting).
* Pretending to be UN forces, members of the Red Cross[=/=]Red Crescent, or other international organisations. Note that if the UN is running a military operation (e.g. UsefulNotes/TheKoreanWar), you're allowed to use their logo on your tank ...tank... it's when the UN doesn't give you permission and you use it that you're running afoul of Article 38.



* [[DressingAsTheEnemy Pretending to be members of enemy armed forces]] ''in a combat situation''. Note that the use of enemy uniforms for reconnaissance or intelligence-gathering purposes is ''not'' perfidy - although the enemy are still allowed to shoot you for ''espionage'' if you get caught.

!!It is not acceptable to say "I was just following orders".

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* [[DressingAsTheEnemy Pretending to be members of enemy armed forces]] ''in a combat situation''. Note that the use of enemy uniforms for reconnaissance or intelligence-gathering purposes is ''not'' perfidy - although perfidy--although the enemy are still allowed to shoot you for ''espionage'' if you get caught.

!!It !! It is not acceptable to say "I was just following orders".



If a member of the armed forces followed an [[JustFollowingOrders order to commit an act which clearly constitutes a war crime under the laws of war]], they are every bit as responsible for it as the superiors who ordered them to do it. During the Nuremberg and High Command trials many military officers unsuccessfully used the "I was just following orders" defence--afterwards known as the Nuremberg Defence-- in a bid to avoid harsh sentencing. This is because, somewhat stereotypically, under pre-war German law the most severe category of murder (and its attendant sentences) was reserved for those committed for emotional reasons (hatred, anger, love). More generally they (successfully) strove to convince the press and public that they had been victims of the Nazi regime too. However, the Allied judicial panels were interested in ''prior intent'' and not their exact motivations. Hundreds of military personnel, including a dozen high-ranking officers, were convicted of war crimes and served prison sentences of up to five years.

That said, subordinates only share in the moral responsibility for committing war crimes if they wouldn't be punished for refusing to commit it. Punishment in this context means execution, torture, and under some interpretations imprisonment. If they ''are'' threatened with such punishment, then they don't share in the moral responsibility for committing the crime and can't be convicted for it -- after all, not everyone is cut out to be a martyr, and even if in hindsight we find the decision repulsive, we can sympathize with a person (probably a terrified young person) for deciding to follow horrific orders when the alternative is death, torture, or extreme deprivation.

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If a member of the armed forces followed an [[JustFollowingOrders order to commit an act which clearly constitutes a war crime under the laws of war]], they are every bit as responsible for it as the superiors who ordered them to do it. During the Nuremberg and High Command trials many military officers unsuccessfully used the "I was just following orders" defence--afterwards known as the Nuremberg Defence-- in Defence--in a bid to avoid harsh sentencing. This is because, somewhat stereotypically, under pre-war German law the most severe category of murder (and its attendant sentences) was reserved for those committed for emotional reasons (hatred, anger, love). More generally they (successfully) strove to convince the press and public that they had been victims of the Nazi regime too. However, the Allied judicial panels were interested in ''prior intent'' and not their exact motivations. Hundreds of military personnel, including a dozen high-ranking officers, were convicted of war crimes and served prison sentences of up to five years.

That said, subordinates only share in the moral responsibility for committing war crimes if they wouldn't be punished for refusing to commit it. Punishment in this context means execution, torture, and under some interpretations imprisonment. If they ''are'' threatened with such punishment, then they don't share in the moral responsibility for committing the crime and can't be convicted for it -- after it--after all, not everyone is cut out to be a martyr, and even if in hindsight we find the decision repulsive, we can sympathize with a person (probably a terrified young person) for deciding to follow horrific orders when the alternative is death, torture, or extreme deprivation.



!!Enforcement

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!!Enforcement!! Enforcement



!!Ceasefires, Armistices

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!!Ceasefires, !! Ceasefires, Armistices


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