The Laws of Armed Conflicts: A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions, and Other Documents

By Dietrich Schindler; Jiri Toman | Go to book overview

No. 27
PROTECTION OF CIVILIAN POPULATIONS AGAINST BOMBING FROM THE AIR IN CASE OF WAR

Resolution of the League of Nations Assembly adopted on 30 September 1938

INTRODUCTORY NOTE: The attempt to codify the rules of air warfare in the early 1920s (see No. 26) not having induced the adoption of a legally binding convention, the question of bombing from the air was brought up again at the Disarmament Conference at Geneva in 1932–34, but no agreement was reached. The bombardments that took place in Ethiopia, Spain and China occasioned new initiatives with a view to adopting regulations on bombing from the air and the protection of civilian populations. On 21 June 1938, the British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, stated in the House of Commons mat three principles of international law were applicable to warfare from the air. When the Assembly of the League of Nations met in the following autumn, it adopted without dissent the resolution printed below, which reproduces in substance the three principles put forward by Mr. Chamberlain.

AUTHENTIC TEXTS: English, French.

TEXT PUBLISHED IN: League of Nations Official Journal, Special Supplement No. 182, October 1938, Resolutions adopted by the Assembly during its 19th Ordinary Session (12–30 September 1938), pp. 15–16 (Engl.); Journal Officiel de la Société des Nations, Supplement spécial No. 182, October 1938, Résolutions adoptées par l'Assemblée à sa douzième séance, pp. 135–136 (French); Droit des conflits armés, pp. 299–300 (French).

The Assembly,

Considering that on numerous occasions public opinion has expressed through the most authoritative channels its horror of the bombing of civilian populations;

Considering that this practice, for which there is no military necessity and which, as experience shows, only causes needless suffering, is condemned under the recognized principles of international law;

Considering, further, that, though this principle ought to be respected by all States and does not require further reaffirmation, it urgently needs to be made the subject of regulations specially adapted to air warfare and taking account of the lessons of experience;

Considering that the solution of this problem, which is of concern to all States, whether Members of the League of Nations or not, calls for technical investigation and thorough consideration;

Considering that the Bureau of the Conference for the Reduction and Limitation of Armaments is to meet in the near future and that it is for the

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