Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
Section B. Obligation of commanders to instruct the armed forces under their command
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (1975) states:
The military commander must incorporate in his programmes the legal problems that shall permit all members of the Armed Forces not only to realistically complete their knowledge of the international law of war, but also to solve, in time of peace, problems he will face in case of armed conflict. This instruction, in addition to military training, must be the object of instruction sessions in all military units and schools.
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) states: “In the Armed Forces, every Commander is responsible for the instruction of his soldiers and their behaviour in action.”
The manual further states: “Instruction in the Law of War constitutes an essential part of the activity of commanding.”
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states that “instruction in the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law … constitutes an essential part of the activity of the command”.
The manual also states:
In the Armed Forces, every commander is responsible for the instruction of his men …
For this reason, the laws of armed conflict and international humanitarian law provide a code of conduct for the Defence Forces; a guide on how to behave in combat.
The manual adds:
It is important that future officers of the staff of military headquarters are trained in [ensuring that] … the formulation of orders and the conduct of armed operations are in accordance with the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.
Cameroon’s Disciplinary Regulations (2007) states:
Article 35. Responsibility and instruction
Within the framework of the rules of this chapter, the soldiers of the Cameroonian Defence Forces must make themselves thoroughly familiar with their responsibility as regards respect for international humanitarian law and the law of armed conflicts …
Thus, respect for the rules of international law must be a natural duty for the Cameroonian soldier. If, in a particular situation, he is in doubt as regards the rules of international law, he must ask his superior for a decision; if that is impossible to him, he acts in accordance with his conscience.
Consequently, the military command must incorporate in its programmes the legal problems that will permit all members of the Defence Forces not only to complete in a realistic way their knowledge in the area of the Law of Armed Conflicts and International Humanitarian Law, but also to solve, already in time of peace, problems of international law such as they will arise in the case of armed conflict. This instruction, complementary to military training, must be the object of instruction sessions in all units, instruction centres and military schools.