The Hague Rules of Air Warfare

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The Hague, December, 1922-February, 1923
[These rules were never adopted by the powers concerned.]

CHAPTER I-Applicability: Classification and Marks.

ARTICLE I

THE RULES OF AERIAL warfare apply to all aircraft, whether lighter or heavier than air, irrespective of whether they are, or are not, capable of floating on the water.

ARTICLE II

The following shall be deemed to be public aircraft:
a) Military aircraft.
b) Non-military aircraft exclusively employed in the public service.

All other aircraft shall be deemed to be private aircraft.

ARTICLE III
A military aircraft shall bear an external mark indicating its nation; and military character.

ARTICLE IV
A public non-military aircraft employed for customs or police purposes shall carry papers evidencing the fact that it is exclusively employed in the public service. Such an aircraft shall bear an external mark indicating its nationality and its public non-military character.

ARTICLE V

Public non-military aircraft other than those employed for customs or police purposes shall in time of war bear the same external marks, and for the purposes of these rules shall be treated on the same footing, as private aircraft.

ARTICLE VI

Aircraft not comprised in Articles III and IV and deemed to be private aircraft shall carry such papers and bear such external marks as are required by the rules in force in their own country. These marks must indicate their nationality and character.

ARTICLE VII

The external marks required by the above articles shall be so affixed that they cannot be altered in flight. They shall be as large as is practicable and shall be visible from above, from below and from each side.

ARTICLE VIII

The external marks, prescribed by the rules in force in each State, shall be notified promptly to all other Powers.

Modifications adopted in time of peace of the rules prescribing external marks shall be notified to all other Powers before they are brought into force.

Modifications of such rules adopted at the outbreak of war or during hostilities shall be notified by each Power as soon as possible to all other Powers and at latest when they are communicated to their own fighting forces.

ARTICLE IX

A belligerent non-military aircraft, whether public or private, may be converted into a military aircraft, provided that the conversion is effected within the jurisdiction of the belligerent State to which the aircraft belongs and not on the high seas.

ARTICLE X

No aircraft may possess more than one nationality.

CHAPTER II-General Principles.

ARTICLE XI

Outside the jurisdiction of any State, belligerent or neutral, all aircraft shall have full freedom of passage through-the air and of alighting.

ARTICLE XII

In time of war any State, whether belligerent or neutral, may forbid or regulate the entrance, movement or sojourn of aircraft within its jurisdiction.

CHAPTER III- Belligerents.

ARTICLE XIII

Military aircraft are alone entitled to exercise belligerent rights.

ARTICLE XIV

A military aircraft shall be under the command of a person duly commissioned or enlisted in the military service of the State; the crew must be exclusively military.

ARTICLE XV

Members of the crew of a military aircraft shall wear a fixed distinctive emblem of such character as to be recognizable at a distance in case they become separated from their aircraft.

ARTICLE XVI

No aircraft other than a belligerent military aircraft shall engage in hostilities in any form.

The term "hostilities" includes the transmission during flight of military intelligence for the immediate use of a belligerent.

No private aircraft, when outside the jurisdiction of its own country, shall be armed in time of war.

ARTICLE XVII

The principles laid down in the Geneva Convention, 1906, and the Convention for the adaptation of the said Convention to Maritime War (No. X of 1907) shall apply to aerial warfare and to flying ambulances, as well as to the control over flying ambulances exercised by a belligerent commanding officer.

In order to enjoy the protection and privileges allowed to mobile medical units by the Geneva Convention, 1906, flying ambulances must bear the distinctive emblem of the Red Cross in addition to the usual distinguishing marks.

CHAPTER IV - Hostilities.

ARTICLE XVIII

The use of tracer, incendiary, or explosive projectiles by or against air, is not prohibited.

This provision applies equally to States which are parties to the Declaration of St. Petersburg, 1868, and to those which are not.

ARTICLE XIX

The use of false external marks is forbidden.

ARTICLE XX

When an aircraft has been disabled, the occupants when endeavoring to escape by means of parachute must not be attacked in the course of their descent.

ARTICLE XXI

The use of aircraft for the purpose of disseminating propaganda shall not be treated as an illegitimate means of warfare. Members of the crews of such aircraft must not be deprived of their rights as prisoners of war on the charge that they have committed such an act.

ARTICLE XXII

Aerial bombardment for the purpose of terrorizing the civilian population, of destroying or damaging private property not of a military character, or of injuring non-combatants is prohibited.

ARTICLE XXIII

Aerial bombardment for the purpose of enforcing compliance with requisitions in kind or payment of contributions in money is prohibited.

ARTICLE XXIV

1 ) Aerial bombardment is legitimate only when directed at a military objective, that is to say, an object of which the destruction or injury would constitute a distinct military advantage to the belligerent.

2) Such bombardment is legitimate only when directed exclusively at the following objectives: military forces; military works; military establishments or depots; factories constituting important and well-known centres engaged in the manufacture of arms, ammunition, or distinctively military supplies; lines of communication or transportation used for military purposes.

3) The bombardment of cities, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings not in the immediate neighborhood of the operations of land forces is prohibited. In cases where the objectives specified in paragraph 2 are so situated, that they cannot be bombarded without the indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population, the aircraft must abstain from bombardment.

4) In the immediate neighborhood of the operations of land forces, the bombardment of cities, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings is legitimate provided that there exists a reasonable presumption that the military concentration is sufficiently important to justify such bombardment, having regard to the danger thus caused to the civilian population.

5) A belligerent State is liable to pay compensation for injuries to person or to property caused by the violation by any of its officers or forces of the provisions of this article.

ARTICLE XXV

In bombardment by aircraft all necessary steps must be taken by the commander to spare as far as possible buildings dedicated to public worship, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospital ships, hospitals, and other places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided such buildings, objects or places are not at the time used for military purposes. Such buildings, objects and places must by day be indicated by marks visible to aircraft. The use of marks to indicate other buildings, objects or places than those specified above is to be deemed an act of perfidy. The marks used as aforesaid shall be in the case of buildings protected under the Geneva Convention the red cross on a white ground, and in the case of other protected buildings a large rectangular panel divided diagonally into two pointed [sic] triangular portions, one black and the other white.

A belligerent who desires to secure by night the protection for the hospitals and other privileged buildings above mentioned must take the necessary measures to render the special signs referred to sufficiently visible.

ARTICLE XXVI

The following special rules are adopted for the purpose of enabling States to obtain more efficient protection for important historic monuments situated within their territory, provided that they are willing to refrain from the use of such monuments and a surrounding zone for military purposes, and to accept a special regime for their inspection.

1) A State shall be entitled, if it sees fit, to establish a zone of protection round such monuments situated in its territory. Such zones shall in time of war enjoy immunity from bombardment.

2) The monuments round which a zone is established shall be notified to other Powers in peace time through the diplomatic channel; the notification shall also indicate the limits of the zones. The notification may not be withdrawn in time of war.

3) The zone of protection may include, in addition to the area actually occupied by the monument or group of monuments, an outer zone, not exceeding 500 meters in width, measured from the circumference of the said area.

4) Marks clearly visible from aircraft either by day or by night will be employed for the purpose of ensuring the identification by belligerent airmen of the limits of the zones.

5 ) The marks on the monuments themselves will be those defined in Article XXV. The marks employed for indicating the surrounding zones will be fixed by each State adopting the provisions of this article, and will be notified to other Powers at the same time as the monuments and zones are notified.

6) Any abusive use of the marks indicating the zones referred to in paragraph 5 will be regarded as an act of perfidy.

7) A State adopting the provisions of this article must abstain from using the monument and the surrounding zone for military purposes, or for the benefit in any way whatever of its military organization, or from committing within such monument or zone any act with a military purpose in view.

8 ) An inspection committee consisting of three neutral representatives accredited to the State adopting the provisions of this article, or their delegates, shall be appointed for the purpose of ensuring that no violation is committed of the provisions of paragraph 7. One of the members of the committee of inspection shall be the representative (or his delegate) of the State to which has been entrusted the interests of the opposing belligerent.

ARTICLE XXVII

Any person on board a belligerent or neutral aircraft is to be deemed a spy only if acting clandestinely or on false presences he obtains or seeks to obtain, while in the air, information within belligerent jurisdiction or in the zone of operations of a belligerent with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party.

ARTICLE XXVIII

Acts of espionage committed after leaving the aircraft by members of the crew of an aircraft or by passengers transported by it are subject to the provisions of the Land Warfare Regulations.

ARTICLE XXIX

Punishment of the acts of espionage referred to in Articles XXVII and XXVI II is subject to Articles XXX and XXXI of the Land Warfare Regulations.

CHAPTER V-Military Authority Over Enemy and Neutral Aircraft and Persons on Board.

ARTICLE XXX

In case a belligerent commanding officer considers that the presence of aircraft is likely to prejudice the success of the operations in which he is engaged at the moment, he may prohibit the passing of neutral aircraft in the immediate vicinity of the forces or may oblige them to follow a particular route. A neutral aircraft which does not conform to such directions, of which it has had notice issued by the belligerent commanding officer, may be fired upon.

ARTICLE XXXI

In accordance with the principles of Article LIII of the Land Warfare Regulations, neutral private aircraft found upon entry in the enemy's jurisdiction by a belligerent occupying force may be requisitioned, subject to the payment of full compensation.

ARTICLE XXXII

Enemy public aircraft, other than those treated on the same footing private aircraft, shall be subject to confiscation without prize proceedings.

ARTICLE XXXIII

Belligerent non-military aircraft, whether public or private, flying within the jurisdiction of their own State, are liable to be fired upon unless they make the nearest available landing on the approach of enemy military aircraft.

ARTICLE XXXIV

Belligerent non-military aircraft, whether public or private, are liable to be fired upon, if they fly (1) within the jurisdiction of the enemy, or (2) in the immediate vicinity thereof and outside the jurisdiction of their own State, or (3) in the immediate vicinity of the military operations of the enemy by land or sea.

ARTICLE XXXV

Neutral aircraft flying within the jurisdiction of a belligerent, and warned of the approach of military aircraft of the opposing belligerent, must make the nearest available landing. Failure to do so exposes them to the risk of being fired upon.

ARTICLE XXXVI

When an enemy military aircraft falls into the hands of a belligerent, the members of the crew and the passengers, if any, may be made prisoners of war.

The same rule applies to the members of the crew and the passengers, if any, of an enemy public non-military aircraft, except that in the case of public non-military aircraft devoted exclusively to the transport of passengers, the passengers will be entitled to be released unless they are in the service of the enemy, or are enemy nationals fit for military service.

If an enemy private aircraft falls into the hands of a belligerent, members of the crew who are enemy nationals, or who are neutral nationals in the service of the enemy, may be made prisoners of war. Neutral members of the crew, who are not in the service of the enemy are entitled to be released if they sign a written undertaking not to serve in any enemy aircraft while hostilities last. Passengers are entitled to be released unless they are in the service of the enemy or are enemy nationals fit for military service, in which cases they may be made prisoners of war.

Release may in any case be delayed if the military interests of the belligerents so require.

The belligerent may hold as prisoners of war any member of the crew or any passenger whose service in a flight at the close of which he has been captured has been of special and active assistance to the enemy.

The names of individuals released after giving a written undertaking in accordance with the third paragraph. of this article will be notified to the opposing belligerent, who must not knowingly employ them in violation of their undertaking.

ARTICLE XXXVII

Members of the crew of a neutral aircraft which has been detained by a belligerent shall be released unconditionally, if they are neutral nationals and not in the service of the enemy. If they are enemy nationals or in the service of the enemy, they may be made prisoners of war.

Passengers are entitled to be released unless they are in the service of the enemy or are enemy nationals fit for military service, in which cases they may be made prisoners of war.

Release may in any case be delayed if the military interests of the belligerent so require.

The belligerent may hold as prisoners of war any member of the crew or any passenger whose service in a flight at the close of which he has been captured has been of special and active assistance to the enemy.

ARTICLE XXXVIII

Where under the - provisions of Articles XXXVI and XXXVII it is provided that members of the crew or passengers may be made prisoners of war, it is to be understood that, if they are not members of the armed forces, they shall be entitled to treatment not less favorable than that accorded to prisoners of war.

CHAPTER VI-Belligerent Duties Towards Neutral States and Neutral Duties Towards Belligerent States.

ARTICLE XXXIX

Belligerent aircraft are bound to respect the rights of neutral Powers and to abstain within the jurisdiction of a neutral State from the commission of any act which it is the duty of that State to prevent.

ARTICLE XL

Belligerent military aircraft are forbidden to enter the jurisdiction of a neutral State.

ARTICLE XLI

Aircraft on board vessels of war, including aircraft-carriers, shall be regarded as part of such vessels.

ARTICLE XLII

A neutral government must use the means at its disposal to prevent the entry within its jurisdiction of belligerent military aircraft and to compel them to alight if they have entered such jurisdiction.

A neutral government shall use the means at its disposal to intern any belligerent military aircraft which is within its jurisdiction after having alighted for any reason whatsoever, together with its crew and the passengers, if any.

ARTICLE XLIII

The personnel of a disabled belligerent military aircraft rescued outside neutral waters and brought into the jurisdiction of a neutral State by a neutral military aircraft and there landed shall be interned.

ARTICLE XLIV

The supply in any manner, directly or indirectly, by a neutral government to a belligerent Power of aircraft, parts of aircraft, or material, supplies or munitions required for aircraft is forbidden.

ARTICLE XLV

Subject to the provisions of Article XLVI, a neutral Power is not bound to prevent the export or transit on behalf of a belligerent of aircraft, parts of aircraft, or material, supplies or munitions for aircraft.

ARTICLE XLVI

A neutral government is bound to use the means at its disposal:

1) to prevent the departure from its jurisdiction of an aircraft in a condition to make a hostile attack against a belligerent Power, or carrying or accompanied by appliances or materials the mounting or utilisation of which would enable it to make a hostile attack, if there is reason to believe that such aircraft is destined for use against a belligerent Power.

2) to prevent the departure of an aircraft the crew of which includes any member of the combatant forces of a belligerent Power.

3) to prevent work upon an aircraft designed to prepare it to depart in contravention of the purpose of this article.

On the departure by air of any aircraft despatched by persons or companies in neutral jurisdiction to the order of a belligerent Power, the neutral government must prescribe for such aircraft a route avoiding the neighbourhood of the military operations of the opposing belligerent, and must exact whatever guarantees may be required to ensure that the aircraft follows the route prescribed.

ARTICLE XLVII

A neutral State is bound to take such steps as the means at its disposal permit to prevent within its jurisdiction aerial observation of the movements, operations or defences of one belligerent, with the intention of informing the other belligerent.

This provision applies equally to a belligerent military aircraft on board a vessel of war.

ARTICLE XLVIII

The action of a neutral Power in using force or other means at its disposal in the exercise of its lights or duties under these rules cannot be regarded as a hostile act.

CHAPTER VII-Visit and Search, Capture and Condemnation

ARTICLE XLIX

Private aircraft are liable to visit and search and to capture by belligerent military aircraft.

ARTICLE L
Belligerent military aircraft have the right to order public non-military and private aircraft to alight in or proceed for visit and search to a suitable locality reasonably accessible.

Refusal, after warning, to obey such orders to alight or to proceed to such a locality for examination exposes an aircraft to the risk of being fired upon.

ARTICLE LI

Neutral public non-military aircraft, other than those which are to be treated as private aircraft, are subject only to visit for the purpose of the verification of their papers.

ARTICLE LII

Enemy private aircraft are liable to capture in all circumstances.

ARTICLE LIII

A neutral private aircraft is liable to capture if it:
a) resists the legitimate exercise of belligerent rights;
b) violates a prohibition of which it has had notice issued by a belligerent commanding officer under Article XXX;
c) is engaged in unneutral service; country;
d) is armed in time of war when outside the jurisdiction of its own
e ) has no external marks or uses false marks;
f ) has no papers or insufficient or irregular papers;
g) is manifestly out of line between the point of departure and the point of destination indicated in its papers and, after such enquiries as the belligerent may deem necessary, no good cause is shown for the deviation. The aircraft, together with its crew and passengers, if any, may be detained by the belligerent, pending such enquiries;
h) carries, or itself constitutes, contraband of war;
i) is engaged in breach of a blockade duly established and effectivly maintained;
k) has been transferred from belligerent to neutral nationality at a date and in circumstances indicating an intention of evading the consequences to which an enemy aircraft, as such, is exposed.

Provided that in each case, except (k), the ground for capture shall be an act carried out in the flight in which the neutral aircraft came into belligerent hands, i.e., since it left its point of departure and before it reached its point of destination.

ARTICLE LIV

The papers of a private aircraft will be regarded as insufficient or irregular if they do not establish the nationality of the aircraft and indicate the names and nationality of the crew and passengers, the points of departure and destination of the flight, together with particulars of the cargo and the conditions under which it is transported. The logs must also be included.

ARTICLE LV

Capture of an aircraft or of goods on board an aircraft shall be made the subject of prize proceedings, in order that any neutral claim may be duly heard and determined.

ARTICLE LVI

A private aircraft captured upon the ground that it has no external marks or is using false marks, or that it is armed in time of war outside the jurisdiction of its own country, is liable to condemnation.

A neutral private aircraft captured upon the ground that it has disregarded the direction of a belligerent commanding officer under Article XXX is liable to condemnation, unless it can justify its presence within the prohibited zone.

In all other cases, the prize court in adjudicating upon any case of capture of an aircraft or its cargo, or of postal correspondence on board an aircraft, shall apply the same rules as would be applied to a merchant vessel or its cargo or to postal correspondence on board a merchant vessel.

ARTICLE LVII

Private aircraft which are found upon visit and search to be enemy aircraft may be destroyed if the belligerent commanding officer finds it necessary to do so, provided that all persons on board have first been placed in safety and all the papers of the aircraft have been preserved.

ARTICLE LVIII

Private aircraft which are found upon visit and search to be neutral aircraft liable to condemnation upon the ground of unneutral service, or upon the ground that they have no external marks or are bearing false marks, may be destroyed, if sending them in for adjudication would be impossible or would imperil the safety of the belligerent aircraft or the success of the operations in which it is engaged. Apart from the cases mentioned above, a neutral private aircraft must not be destroyed except in the gravest military emergency, which would not justify the officer in command in releasing it or sending it in for adjudication.

ARTICLE LIX

Before a neutral private aircraft is destroyed, all persons on board must be placed in safety, and all the papers of the aircraft must be preserved.

A captor who has destroyed a neutral private aircraft must bring the capture before the prize court, and must first establish that he was justified in destroying it under Article LVIII. If he fails to do this, parties interested in the aircraft or its cargo are entitled to compensation. If the capture is held to be invalid, though the act of destruction is held to have been justifiable, compensation must be paid to the parties interested in place of the restitution to which they would have been entitled.

ARTICLE LX

Where a neutral private aircraft is captured on the ground that it is carrying contraband, the captor may demand the surrender of any absolute contraband on board, or may proceed to the destruction of such absolute contraband, if sending in the aircraft for adjudication is impossible or would imperil the safety of the belligerent aircraft or the success of the operations in which it is engaged. After entering in the log book of the aircraft the delivery or destruction of the goods, and securing, in original or copy, the relevant papers of the aircraft, the captor must allow the neutral aircraft to continue its flight.

The provisions of the second paragraph of Article LIX will apply where absolute contraband on board a neutral private aircraft is handed over or destroyed.

CHAPTER VIII-Definitions.

ARTICLE LXI

The term "military" throughout these rules is to be read as referring to all branches of the forces, i.e., the land forces, the naval forces, and the air forces.

ARTICLE LXII

Except so far as special rules are here laid down, and except also so far as the provisions of Chapter VII of these Rules or international conventions indicate that maritime. law and procedure are applicable, aircraft personnel engaged in hostilities come under the laws of war and neutrality applicable to land troops in virtue of the custom and practice of international law and of the various declarations and conventions to which the States concerned are parties.


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