The Blockading Party must allow the passage of medical supplies for the civilian population or for the wounded and sick members of armed forces, subject to the right to prescribe technical arrangements, including inspection, under which such passage is permitted.
- This Rule is based on Para. 104 of the SRM. See also Art. 23 of GC/IV.
- Rule 159 is complementary to Rule 158, except that the element of consent implied in the subjection of Rule 158 to Rule 100 (see paragraph 4 of the Commentary on the chapeau to Rule 158) is not included in Rule 159. Allowing the passage of medical supplies for the civilian population or for the wounded and sick members of armed forces (as well as POWs who may be held in custody in the blockaded area) is, therefore, an absolute requirement.
- Although the agreement of the Blockading Party is not required for the operation of Rule 159, the Blockading Party remains entitled to prescribe technical arrangements — including inspection — to ensure that there is no abuse.
- Para. 104 of the SRM/ACS: “The blockading belligerent shall allow the passage of medical supplies for the civilian population or for the wounded and sick members of armed forces, subject to the right to prescribe technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted.”
- Art. 23 of GC/IV: “Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores and objects necessary for religious worship intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary. It shall likewise permit the free passage of all consignments of essential foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under fifteen, expectant mothers and maternity cases. The obligation of a High Contracting Party to allow the free passage of the consignments indicated in the preceding paragraph is subject to the condition that this Party is satisfied that there are no serious reasons for fearing: (a) that the consignments may be diverted from their destination, (b) that the control may not be effective, or (c) that a definite advantage may accrue to the military efforts or economy of the enemy through the substitution of the above-mentioned consignments for goods which would otherwise be provided or produced by the enemy or through the release of such material, services or facilities as would otherwise be required for the production of such goods. The Power which allows the passage of the consignments indicated in the first paragraph of this Article may make such permission conditional on the distribution to the persons benefited thereby being made under the local supervision of the Protecting Powers. Such consignments shall be forwarded as rapidly as possible, and the Power which permits their free passage shall have the right to prescribe the technical arrangements under which such passage is allowed.”