Practice Relating to Rule 15. The Principle of Precautions in Attack
France’s LOAC Manual (2000) states: “In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.”
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (1989) provides: “All precautions must be taken in order to avoid or minimize incidental injury and collateral damage.”
In 2008, in response to a parliamentary question, the Minister of Defence of France stated:
[France] is a party to the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, which defines the major fundamental principles of protection of the civilian population against the effects of hostilities, in particular … the principle of … precaution in attack, which requires constant attention to reduce to a minimum any collateral damage. France considers this document is a fundamental pillar of international humanitarian law and wishes it to become universal as soon as possible, in order to allow for the requirements of humanity during armed conflicts to be better respected.
On Afghanistan, we remain seriously concerned about the intolerably high number of conflict-related civilian casualties. The large majority of them are caused by indiscriminate attacks by the Taliban, Al-Qaida and other violent armed groups. We would also like to take note of the continued progress made by Afghan and international forces in minimizing civilian casualties.
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, France stated that it considered that the term “feasible” as used in the Protocol meant “that which can be realized or which is possible in practice, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations”.
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) states:
Commanders are responsible for the consequences for civilians of the military actions they take. They must, prior to any action, obtain a maximum of information concerning the nature and the location of protected objects (medical units, cultural objects, installations containing dangerous forces) and concerning any concentration of civilians.