Non-defended localities

Any inhabited place open to enemy occupation and situated near or in a zone where armed forces are in contact.
A party to an armed conflict may unilaterally declare that an area is a non-defended locality.
Such a locality must fulfil the following conditions:

  1. all combatants, as well as mobile weapons and mobile military equipment, must have been evacuated;
  2. no hostile use may be made of fixed military installations or establishments;
  3. no acts of hostility may be committed by the authorities or by the population;
  4. no activities in support of military occupation may be undertaken.

The declaration must be addressed to the adverse party, and must define and describe, as precisely as possible, the limits of the non-defended locality. The receiving Party must acknowledge the receipt of the notification and treat the area as a non-defended locality (e.g., refrain from attack). If the conditions above are not met, then the party receiving notice must inform the other party.
Although not strictly required, for greater safety, formal agreements are recommended for the establishment of non-defended localities.
Alternatively, the parties to an armed conflict may also agree on the establishment of non-defended localities which do not satisfy the conditions listed above. The agreement should define and describe, as precisely as possible, the limits of the non-defended locality.
It is prohibited to attack a non-defended locality.
See Hospital zones and localities, hospitals and safety zones and localities; Neutralized zones;





Suggested readings:
BOUVIER Antoine, “Zones protégées, zones de sécurité et protection de la population civile”, in BOUSTANY Katia & DORMOY Daniel, Perspectives humanitaires entre conflits, droit(s) et action, Brussels, Bruylant, 2002, pp. 251-269.
LAVOYER Jean-Philippe, “International Humanitarian Law, Protected Zones and the Use of Force”, in BIERMANN Wolfgang & VADSET Martin (eds), UN Peacekeeping in Trouble: Lessons Learned from the former Yugoslavia, Aldershot, Ashgate, 1998, pp. 262-279.
OSWALD Bruce M., “The Creation and Control of Places of Protection During United Nations Peace Operations”, in
IRRC, No. 844, December 2001, pp. 1013-1036.
SANDOZ Yves, “Localités et zones sous protection spéciale”, in Quatre études du droit international humanitaire, Geneva, Henry-Dunant Institute, 1985, pp. 35-47
TORELLI Maurice, “Les zones de sécurité”, in RGDIP, Vol. 99/4, 1995, pp. 787-848
Further readings:
LANDGREN Karen, “Safety Zones and International Protection: A Dark Grey Area”, in International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 7/3, 1995, pp. 436-458.
PATEL Bimal N., “Protection zones in international humanitarian law”, in The Indian Journal of International Law, Vol. 39/4, 1999, pp. 689-702.
“Zones sanitaires et zones de sécurité”, in IRRC, Nos 390 & 392, 1951, 80 pp.