Violations in times of war as applied to civilians include: murder, rape, torture, illegal internment, enslavement, deportation, and harsh treatment or restrictions that affect physical and mental health. As applied to property, war crimes include plunder and wanton destruction or devastation of natural resources, productive land and communities, not justified by military objectives. Many military codes of justice provide for punishment of their occupying forces in cases of individual criminal activity against civilians; but collective military action against civilians, ordered or condoned, escapes justice.
The armed forces of every state have legal experts (judge advocates) whose primary responsibility is to administer military justice, maintain discipline and monitor the observance of the laws and customs of war. Under the rules concerning war crimes, which can be defined as violations of the laws and customs of war, the individual in his capacity as organ of the state was made a subject of international duties. The Charter annexed to the Agreement concerning the creation of the International War Tribunal (London, 8 August 1945) list the most important war crimes as: "Murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labour or for any other purposes of civilian populations of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the sea, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns or villages or devastation not justified by military necessity". These acts were already recognized as war crimes by articles 46, 50, 52 and 56 of the [Hague Convention] (1907) and articles 2, 3, 4, 46 and 51 of the [Geneva Convention] (1929). Later, in 1949, in the fourth [Geneva Convention], several relevant articles were included, for example, Convention I, articles, 49 and 50; Convention II, articles 50 and 51; Convention III, articles 129 and 130; and Convention IV, articles 146 and 147.