Reportedly, U.S. President Trump has threatened to attack Iranian cultural heritage with no military value, which would constitute a war crime.

This Stack Exchange answer cites an offline document on the individual responsibility in war crimes (emphasis mine):

  1. Those personnel who commit a war crime may be held individually responsible. In addition to the individual, others may be held responsible, such as the commander, those who aided and abetted an offense, and those who conspired with them to commit the crime—and even those who conspire to commit a war crime that does not occur.

Does threatening to attack cultural heritage constitute conspiracy to commit a war crime, even if the war crime does not occur? Does that make such a threat itself a war crime?

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    Fascinated why there are two close votes as "opinion based". Obviously there is a sense in which any legal question is a matter of opinion until it is decided by a court, but this question seems a rather straightforward specific legal question. Commented Jan 8, 2020 at 6:03

1 Answer 1


"Does threatening to attack cultural heritage constitute conspiracy to commit a war crime..."

Almost certainly not. It's a threat to commit a war crime, but is probably not illegal in and of itself.

On the other hand, if the Commander In Chief were to ask his generals what would be involved in mounting a cruise missile attack on the Meidan Emam in Esfahan, that would be conspiracy to commit a war crime (as would supplying the requested information).

  • what about if done with the intention to wage war
    – user49663
    Commented May 1, 2023 at 6:31

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