(a) UN personnel must be respected and protected.
(b) Directing attacks against UN personnel is prohibited, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians.
(c) Directing attacks against material, installations, units and vehicles of the UN is prohibited, unless they constitute military objectives.
- The obligation to respect and to protect UN personnel (as well as UN materiel, installations, units and vehicles) is based inter alia on the UN Safety Convention. Art. 7 (1) of the latter Convention stipulates that UN personnel, their equipment and premises “shall not be made the object of attack” and that Contracting Parties have a duty to ensure the safety and security of UN personnel.
- In attacking UN personnel (as well as materiel, installations, units and vehicles) which have become a lawful target, a Belligerent Party is bound to respect Sections D, E and G.
- UN personnel (as well as materiel, installations, units and vehicles) may display the emblem of the UN in accordance with a Code issued by the UN Secretary-General on December 17, 1949 (amended on November 11, 1952). It is prohibited to use the distinctive emblem of the UN except as authorized by that organization (see Rule 112 (e)). When UN personnel and materiel lose the protection given to civilian persons and objects under the law of international armed conflict, the UN emblem cannot be construed as a protective emblem.
- According to the UN Safety Convention, the expression “United Nations personnel” covers (Art. 1 (a)) “(i) Persons engaged or deployed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as members of the military, police or civilian components of a United Nations operation; (ii) Other officials and experts on mission for the UN or its specialized agencies or the International Atomic Energy Agency who are present in an official capacity in the area where a United Nations operation is being conducted.”
- In the UN Safety Convention (Art. 1 (c)), the expression “United Nations operation” is defined as “an operation established by the competent organ of the United Nations in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and conducted under United Nations authority and control: (i) Where the operation is for the purpose of maintaining or restoring international peace and security; or (ii) Where the Security Council or the General Assembly has declared, for the purposes of this Convention, that there exists an exceptional risk to the safety of the personnel participating in the operation.”
- The Optional Protocol to the UN Safety Convention expands (Art. II) the expression “United Nations operation” to include, in addition to those operations already covered under Art. 1 (c) of the UN Safety Convention: “all other United Nations operations established by a competent organ of the United Nations in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and conducted under United Nations authority and control for the purpose of: (a) delivering humanitarian, political or development assistance in peacebuilding; (b) delivering emergency humanitarian assistance.”
- The obligation to respect UN personnel enshrined in Rule 98 (a) means (i) that it is prohibited to attack or to harm them in any way; and (ii) that there ought be no adverse interference with the accomplishment of their mandate. The obligation to protect implies the duty to ensure that these persons are to be respected.
- Rule 98 (b) specifies that UN personnel only enjoy such protection “as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians”. As stated in Art. 1.2 of the Secretary-General’s Bulletin on the Observance by United Nations Forces of International Humanitarian Law: “The promulgation of this bulletin does not affect the protected status of members of peacekeeping operations under the 1994 Convention on the Safety of United Nations and Associated Personnel or their status as non-combatants, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians under the international law of armed conflict.”
- Rule 98 (a) applies also in non-international armed conflict.
- Art. 7 (1) of the UN Safety Convention (“Duty to ensure the safety and security of United Nations and associ-ated personnel”): “(1) United Nations and associated personnel, their equipment and premises shall not be made the object of attack or of any action that prevents them from discharging their mandate.”
- The United Nations Flag Code and Regulations, ST/SGB/132.
- Art. 8 (2) (b) (iii) of the Rome Statute of the ICC declares the following to be a war crime in an international armed conflict: “Intentionally directing attacks against personnel, installations, material, units or vehicles involved in a humanitarian assistance or peacekeeping mission in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, as long as they are entitled to the protection given to civilians or civilian objects under the international law of armed conflict.” An identical provision (Art. 8 (2) (e) (iii)) exists also for armed conflicts not of an international character.
- Attacks against UN personnel are prohibited only (i) as long as the UN is not a Party to the armed conflict; or (ii) its forces do not take a direct part in hostilities.
- When the UN is a Party to the armed conflict, its military personnel may be regarded as combatants and they may be attacked accordingly.
- Non-military UN personnel will be regarded as civilians in all circumstances, unless and for such time as they directly participate in hostilities (see Section F).
- When the UN is not a Party to the armed conflict, resort to force in “self-defence” or in implementation of a robust mandate by UN personnel will not necessarily vest them with a combatant role. Any act of self-defence not overstepping the threshold of armed conflict or not amounting to an act of direct participation in hostilities will not result in the loss of the protection afforded to civilians under the law of international armed conflict.
- The fact that UN military personnel are engaged in an armed conflict as a Party thereto does not imply that the entirety of the personnel engaged in the UN mission lose their protection against direct attack. While UN armed forces and UN personnel taking a direct part in hostilities lose their protection and are lawful targets, the remainder of the UN personnel − e.g., those participating in relief actions − remain protected.
- Rule 98 (b) applies also in non-international armed conflict.
- UN materiel, installations, units and vehicles are protected only as long as they are entitled to the protec-tion given to civilian objects under the law of international armed conflict (see Rule 1 (j)). They constitute law-ful targets if they are military objectives as defined in Rule 1 (y) and in Section E of this Manual.
- The prohibition of directing attacks against UN vehicles extends to UN aircraft and UAVs or UCAVs, unless they constitute military objectives. UN forces may use UAVs for a variety of purposes, ranging from providing information useful for their deployment and subsequent movements to acquiring information valuable in force protection. They may also be used to accomplish the UN Security Council mandate. For instance, UAVs may be useful in monitoring the need for humanitarian relief, determining how best to deliver such relief, and monitoring the location and activities of military forces, as during an agreed cease-fire. UCAVs may be used to provide protection for UN forces − or civilians under their protection − pursuant to the UN Security Council mandate. In these and other cases of employment by UN forces, the UCAV/UCAVs retain their immunity from attack as long as (i) the UN is not a Party to the armed conflict; or (ii) its forces do not take a direct part in hostilities.
- Rule 98 (c) also applies in non-international armed conflict.