Practice Relating to Nuclear Weapons
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Section 14 - Nuclear weapons
0468. The ICRC, in its explanation of the drafting of the Additional Protocols in 1973, stated that it was not its intention, in submitting these drafts, to raise questions relating to nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, since these issues formed the subject of international treaties and negotiations. In view of what the nuclear and other powers said about this during the Diplomatic Conference of 1974–77, it can be assumed that the Conference accepted that the nuclear powers were not ready to place the use of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction on the agenda of this Conference.
0469. In its ratification of AP I [1977 Additional Protocol I], the Netherlands issued an explanatory declaration which elaborated on this approach. The import of the declaration was that the rules of AP I on the use of weapons were deliberately written to take no account of nuclear weapons; yet, this does not mean that other rules of international law do not apply to such weapons. On the latter point, the principles of the humanitarian law of war which contemplate the use of weapons in general must, in any case, be borne in mind:
- the prohibition on directing attack against the civilian population;
- the obligation to distinguish between participants in hostilities and the civilian population, and to spare the latter as far as possible.