The Gudersnipe Foundation Battle Charter is the document containing the rules the Foundation operates by, as well as the rules they expect everyone else to abide. The Charter is divided into five main sections:
- The Rules of Engagement
- The Rules of Organized Warfare
- The Laws of War
- The Conventions for Prisoners of Peace and War
- The General Guidelines for Times of Peace
It is well understood that any party, be it political, national, ideological, or economic, is required to sign and abide by the Battle Charter if it wishes peace with the Foundation. While the Foundation will not openly attack other groups simply for not signing the Charter, any provocation will invite attack. Entities that provoke the Foundation without having signed the Charter are not eligable to negotiate; Foundation forces will assualt, invade, capture, and subjugate the population, enacting the Charter by force.
For the Gudersnipe Foundation, the Charter is the last and final word, and the only book of law. The Foundation has numerous regulations and ordinances, but all direct laws are exclusively in the Charter.
This contains a brief overview of the contents of each section. Each section has additional sub-sections, each including articles and numbered paragraphs. To quote a specific piece of the charter, one will typically list the section, sub-section, article, and paragraph.
Rules of Engagement
The rules of direct, open military combat. Including rules for distinguishing civilian targets from military, firing on civilians, and considerations for confirming a target's identity before attacking.
Rules of Organized Warfare
The rules for the broader scope of a military campaign. Considerations for the treatment and welfare of civilians, list of distinctions between military and civilian, and the distinctions between civilian and war work.
Laws of War
This section deals specifically with what is legal and illegal in warfare, what constitutes a legal war, and what individuals can be charged with at a military tribunal. It has two main sub-sections, regarding 'crimes committed during war' and actual 'war crimes'.
The Recognized Exemptions are a class of war crimes that the Charter recognizes, but does not explicitly forbid. The covers certain crimes allied powers like to punish offenders for, but which the Foundation itself does not enforce. These are mostly minor and highly technical, but they do come up on occasion.
Conventions for Prisoners of Peace and War
This section is divided directly into two sub-sections, and the original draft did not include one. The Conventions for Prisoners of Peace and War concerns the ethical treatment of prisoners, both of war and in civilian life. Section I focuses entirely on prisoners of war, both civilian and military, how they must be treated, etc.
Section II concerns all prisoners not associated with war (I.E. those guilty of civilian crimes). This section was added during the Golden Age when the first GS Towns emerged and it was clear that civilian crime existed. This section was later amended to include a set of rules regarding civilian government under direct Foundation jurisdiction. This was placed here as it didn't really fit anywhere else, and the Charter doesn't get new sections.
General Guidelines for Times of Peace
The General Guidelines section is still considered law, and is the only section open to interpretation. It contains a set of economic, social, and military guidelines governing what can and can't be done during peace. Famously, this includes the strict set of rules under which Foundation starships can be sold, traded, or otherwise transferred outside the Gudersnipe Foundation.
This section also has subsections on economic freedom, which are the Foundation's guidelines of private enterprise. The Foundation prefers to sub-contract smaller tasks whenever possible, but any company wishing to do business with them is expected to follow these guidelines. They cover, among other things, the fair and ethical treatment of employees.
Another popular part is the section on safety. While the Foundation has safety regulations regarding every situation imaginable, this section covers law. Specifically, which regulations must be followed in the civilian world, and to what extent.
Finally, this section closes by giving a determination as to what defines a citizen of the Gudersnipe Foundation. Despite not considering itself a political entity, the Foundation draws a distinction between who is and is not under their protection. Officially, any individual belonging to a nation that signed the Charter is considered a citizen.
Petty laws are those that are not covered by the Battle Charter, but considered universal to the Foundation's sphere of influence. Typically speaking, these laws do not extend to soveriegn nations that sign the Charter, and are only for use in GS Towns. Enforcement of the laws is at the discretion of the local Commanding Officer.
Addendum and Edits
Only the Blind Consul can make changes to the Battle Charter, and a change requires a unanimous vote.
Eieber himself famously signed the Charter on the Day of Dawn's Reflection, and swore the Alliance would uphold it. However, when the Unity Earth Sphere Alliance was finally founded, it voted that each member world had the right to sign or reject of its own accord. This conflicted with earlier treaties made with Eieber's original Alliance (which the Foundation was obliged to uphold), and allowed member worlds to violate and ignore the Charter without fear of reprisal. To attack these nations, the Foundation would need to declare war on the entire Alliance. (This was a problem in later Ages: Altronis is a good example.)
Eventually, this oversight was corrected; but the new law only forced member worlds joining the Alliance for the first time to sign. It included a grandfather-clause that allowed all existing members to handle the Charter as they saw fit. This became immensely problematic during the Necromanic Wars.