CONVENTION CONCERNING BOMBARDMENT BY NAVAL FORCES IN TIME OF WAR
Animated by the desire to realize the wish expressed by the First Peace Conference respecting the bombardment by naval forces of undefended ports, towns, and villages;
Whereas it is expedient that bombardments by naval forces should be subject to rules of general application which would safeguard the rights of the inhabitants and assure the preservation of the more important buildings, by applying as far as possible to this operation of war the principles of the Regulation of 1899 respecting the laws and customs of land war;
Actuated, accordingly, by the desire to serve the interests of humanity and to diminish the severity and disasters of war;
Have resolved to conclude a Convention to this effect, and have, for this purpose, appointed the following as their Plenipotentiaries:
(List of Plenipotentiaries)
Who, after depositing their full powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following provisions:
The Bombardment of Undefended Ports, Towns, Villages, Dwellings, or Buildings
The bombardment by naval forces of undefended ports, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings is forbidden.
A place cannot be bombarded solely because automatic submarine contact mines are anchored off the harbour.
Military works, military or naval establishments, depots of arms or war mat riel, workshops or plant which could be utilized for the needs of the hostile fleet or army, and the ships of war in the harbour, are not, however, included in this prohibition. The commander of a naval force may destroy them with artillery, after a summons followed by a reasonable time of waiting, if all other means are impossible, and when the local authorities have not themselves destroyed them within the time fixed.
He incurs no responsibility for any unavoidable damage which may be caused by a bombardment under such circumstances.
If for military reasons immediate action is necessary, and no delay can be allowed the enemy, it is understood that the prohibition to bombard the undefended town holds good, as in the case given in paragraph 1, and that the commander shall take all due measures in order that the town may suffer as little harm as possible.
After due notice has been given, the bombardment of undefended ports, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings may be commenced, if the local authorities, after a formal summons has been made to them, decline to comply with requisitions for provisions or supplies necessary for the immediate use of the naval force before the place in question.
These requisitions shall be in proportion to the resources of the place. They shall only be demanded in the name of the commander of the said naval force, and they shall, as far as possible, be paid for in cash; if not, they shall be evidenced by receipts.
Undefended ports, towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings may not be bombarded on account of failure to pay money contributions.
In bombardments by naval forces all the necessary measures must be taken by the commander to spare as far as possible sacred edifices, buildings used for artistic, scientific, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick or wounded are collected, on the understanding that they are not used at the same time for military purposes.
It is the duty of the inhabitants to indicate such monuments, edifices, or places by visible signs, which shall consist of large, stiff rectangular panels divided diagonally into two coloured triangular portions, the upper portion black, the lower portion white.
If the military situation permits, the commander of the attacking naval force, before commencing the bombardment, must do his utmost to warn the authorities.
A town or place, even when taken by storm, may not be pillaged.
The provisions of the present Convention do not apply except between Contracting Powers, and then only if all the belligerents are parties to the Convention.
The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible. The ratifications shall be deposited at The Hague.
The first deposit of ratifications shall be recorded in a procès-verbal signed by the representatives of the Powers which take part therein and by the Netherlands Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The subsequent deposits of ratifications shall be made by means of a written notification addressed to the Netherlands Government and accompanied by the instrument of ratification.
A duly certified copy of the procès-verbal relative to the first deposit of ratifications, of the notifications mentioned in the preceding paragraph, as well as of the instruments of ratification, shall be at once sent by the Netherlands Government, through the diplomatic channel, to the Powers invited to the Second Peace Conference, as well as to the other Powers which have adhered to the Convention. In the cases contemplated in the preceding paragraph, the said Government shall inform them at the same time of the date on which it received the notification.
Non-Signatory Powers may adhere to the present Convention.
The Power which desires to adhere shall notify its intention to the Netherlands Government, forwarding to it the act of adhesion, which shall be deposited in the archives of the said Government.
This Government shall immediately forward to all the other Powers a duly certified copy of the notification, as well as of the act of adhesion, mentioning the date on which it received the notification.
The present Convention shall come into force, in the case of the Powers which were a party to the first deposit of ratifications, sixty days after the date of the procès-verbal of that deposit, and, in the case of the Powers which ratify subsequently or which adhere, sixty days after the notification of their ratification or of their adhesion has been received by the Netherlands Government.
In the event of one of the Contracting Powers wishing to denounce the present Convention, the denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Netherlands Government, which shall at once communicate a duly certified copy of the notification to all the other Powers informing them of the date on which it was received.
The denunciation shall only have effect in regard to the notifying Power, and one year after the notification has reached the Netherlands Government.
A register kept by the Netherlands Minister for Foreign Affairs shall give the date of the deposit of ratifications made in virtue of Article 9, paragraphs 3 and 4, as well as the date on which the notifications of adhesion (Article 10, paragraph 2) or of denunciation (Article 12, paragraph 1) have been received.
Each Contracting Power is entitled to have access to this register and to be supplied with duly certified extracts from it.
In faith whereof the Plenipotentiaries have appended their signatures to the present Convention.
Done at The Hague, 18 October 1907, in a single copy, which shall remain deposited in the archives of the Netherlands Government, and duly certified copies of which shall be sent, through the diplomatic channel, to the Powers which have been invited to the Second Peace Conference.