Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Perfidy Definition:

The intentional violation of a promise or of some trust, such as misusing a flag of truce during war in order to facilitate an attack.

In his law dictionary, John Bouvier defined perfidy as;

"The act of one who has engaged his faith to do a thing, and does not do it, but does the contrary."

§23(f) of the Hague Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land (1907):

"[I]t it is especially forbidden ... to make improper use of a flag of truce, of the national flag or of the military insignia and uniform of the enemy, as well as the distinctive badges of the Geneva Convention."

Article 37 of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1, 1979):

"Prohibition of Perfidy:

"It is prohibited to kill, injure or capture an adversary by resort to perfidy. Acts inviting the confidence of an adversary to lead him to believe that he is entitled to, or is obliged to accord, protection under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, with intent to betray that confidence, shall constitute perfidy.

"The following acts are examples of perfidy: the feigning of an intent to negotiate under a flag of truce or of a surrender; the feigning of an incapacitation by wounds or sickness; the feigning of civilian, non-combatant status; and the feigning of protected status by the use of signs, emblems or uniforms of the United Nations or of neutral or other States not Parties to the conflict.

"Ruses of war are not prohibited. Such ruses are acts which are intended to mislead an adversary or to induce him to act recklessly but which infringe no rule of international law applicable in armed conflict and which are not perfidious because they do not invite the confidence of an adversary with respect to protection under that law. The following are examples of such ruses: the use of camouflage, decoys, mock operations and misinformation."

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