5 February 2010
With regard to the reservation made by the United States of America upon consenting to be bound by Protocol III to the above Convention:
"The Government of Finland has carefully examined the reservation and the text of Article 2, paragraphs 2 and 3, and wishes to express its concerns with respect to the reservation.
Under Article 2, paragraph 2, it is prohibited in all circumstances to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by air-delivered incendiary weapons. Furthermore, under Article 2, paragraph 3, it is further prohibited to make any military objective located within a concentration of civilians the object of attack by means of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered incendiary weapons, except when such military objective is clearly separated from the concentration of civilians and all feasible precautions are taken with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.
Article 2, paragraph 2, allows no exceptions concerning the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons. Therefore, the reservation made by the United States of America in respect of that provision appears to undermine the object and purpose of Protocol III. Furthermore, Article 2, paragraph 3, provides for two conditions for the use of incendiary weapons other than air-delivered ones, both of which have to be met. While noting that the reservation made by the United States of America respects the condition of all feasible precautions, the Government of Finland considers that it fails to take account of the condition that the military objective must be clearly separated from the concentration of civilians. Article 2 does not provide for any exception to this condition. Therefore, the reservation appears to run counter to the object and purpose of the Protocol also in respect of paragraph 3 of Article 2.
Protocol III does not expressly prohibit reservations. However, a reservation should not undermine the object and purpose of the treaty in question. The reservation made by the United States of America appears to undermine the core purpose of Protocol III, that is the protection of civilians.
The Government of Finland has carefully noted the further explanations submitted by the United States. Finland is not, however, fully satisfied that the reservation in light of the explanations can be interpreted as a narrow reservation consistent with the underlying key principles of international humanitarian law, and with the object and purpose of the Protocol.
The Government of Finland therefore objects to the said reservation and considers that it is without legal effect between the United States of America and Finland. This objection shall not preclude the entry into force of Protocol III between the United States of America and Finland."