Practice Relating to Rule 6. Civilians’ Loss of Protection from Attack
Section A. Direct participation in hostilities
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states: “Civilians enjoy no protection [against attack] if they participate directly in hostilities.”
The manual further states that taking a direct part in hostilities means that “the person involved engages in hostilities aimed at hitting enemy personnel or materiel. Examples include firing at enemy troops, throwing molotov cocktails or blowing up a bridge used for the transport of military materiel.”
With respect to non-international armed conflicts in particular, the manual states: “The protection of civilians ends when and for as long as they participate directly in hostilities.”
The Military Handbook (1995) of the Netherlands states: “It is prohibited to attack civilians who are not involved in combat.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Combatants are those entitled to participate directly in hostilities. ‘Participate directly in hostilities’ comprises more than participation in battle: it also covers direct support of military operations.”
The manual further states: “The term ‘non-combatant’ is used for anyone who is not a combatant. This includes all civilians … on the assumption that they play no part in the hostilities.”
In its chapter on combatants, the manual states:
In the Netherlands, civil servants of the Defence Ministry who perform activities during an armed conflict must be deemed to play a direct part in hostilities. It must be remembered that “direct participation in hostilities” comprises more than participation in battle. It also covers more direct support of military operations. There are criteria for assessing whether direct participation in hostilities is taking place. Important factors here are the nature and place of the activities to be performed.
In its chapter on behaviour in battle, the manual states: “A non-combatant, who may not take part in hostilities, but uses a weapon, also forms a military objective.”
The manual also states:
[C]ivilians enjoy no protection, as described above, if they take a direct part in the hostilities. “Take a direct part in the hostilities” means that the person concerned carries out acts of war aimed at personnel or equipment of the enemy forces. Such actions include firing on hostile troops, throwing Molotov cocktails, blowing up a bridge over which enemy materiel is transported, and transporting equipment to battle positions. Actions such as manufacturing and transporting military materiel in the rear area certainly do not constitute direct participation in hostilities.
In its chapter on neutrality, the manual states:
Status of neutrals in territory under belligerent control
A resident of a neutral State forfeits neutral status if he commits hostile acts against a belligerent or acts in favour of a belligerent, especially if he joins the armed forces of a belligerent.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
A distinction should always be made between those directly participating in the fighting and those not participating in military operations, and persons who have been removed from the fighting (hors de combat
). The first category of persons may in principle be attacked, whereas the second category should be protected against the consequences of combat.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states: “Civilians who participate directly in hostilities forfeit their protection as long as they participate directly in the combat.”