Related Rule
Australia
Practice Relating to Rule 15. The Principle of Precautions in Attack
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states: “In the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population and civilian objects to the maximum extent possible.” 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, § 556.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states that “in the conduct of military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population and civilian objects to the maximum extent possible.” 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 5.61; see also §§ 6.26 and 8.50.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
In 2009, in a ministerial statement before the House of Representatives on the situation in Sri Lanka, Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs stated: “Australia calls on all those involved in the fighting to make protecting civilians an absolute priority … All parties must ensure that civilians can leave the conflict zone safely.” 
Australia, House of Representatives, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ministerial statement: Situation in Sri Lanka, Hansard, 5 February 2009, p. 623.
While the core challenges in the protection of civilians identified in the previous reports of the Secretary-General still need our sustained attention, the new report also identifies several protection policy priorities that need to be explored. In particular the following “emerging” issues would benefit from our attention, and the Group of Friends stands ready to act as a platform to advance them. …
… [O]n the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), the Group is of the view that further discussions are needed and it welcomes the fact that the issue will be examined in Geneva in May 2014, in the framework of the CCW [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The Group hopes that such discussions will also examine the issue with due consideration to the protection of civilians as part of a comprehensive debate including legal, military operational, technological and ethical perspectives. In time discussion should focus on the relevance of such systems to the protection of civilians, in particular in the context of IHL and with regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. 
Australia, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during a UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict made on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, 12 February 2014, p. 2.
While the core challenges in the protection of civilians identified in the previous reports of the Secretary-General still need our sustained attention, the new report also identifies several protection policy priorities that need to be explored. In particular the following “emerging” issues would benefit from our attention, and the Group of Friends stands ready to act as a platform to advance them. …
… [O]n the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), the Group is of the view that further discussions are needed and it welcomes the fact that the issue will be examined in Geneva in May 2014, in the framework of the CCW [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The Group hopes that such discussions will also examine the issue with due consideration to the protection of civilians as part of a comprehensive debate including legal, military operational, technological and ethical perspectives. In time discussion should focus on the relevance of such systems to the protection of civilians, in particular in the context of IHL and with regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. 
Belgium, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during a UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict made on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, 12 February 2014, p. 2.
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states:
All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack. While LOAC recognises that civilian casualties are unavoidable at times, a failure to take all reasonable precautions to minimise such damage may lead to a breach of those laws. The same principles apply to the risk of damage or injury to any other protected persons, places and objects. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, § 548; see also § 846.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
5.39 Commanders must take all practicable precautions, taking into account military and humanitarian considerations, to keep civilian casualties and damage to a minimum consistent with mission accomplishment …
5.53 … All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack. While the LOAC recognises that civilian casualties are unavoidable at times, a failure to take all reasonable precautions to minimise such damage may lead to a breach of those laws. The same principles apply to the risk of damage or injury to any other protected persons, places and objects. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, §§ 5.39 and 5.53.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) defines feasible precautions as “precautions which are practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations”. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, p. xxiv.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states that “all feasible precautions must be taken to gather relevant intelligence and ensure attacks are directed against military objectives”. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 5.1; see also § 2.9.
The manual further states that the duties of Australian Defence Force commanders include “taking all feasible precautions, in the choice of means and methods of attack, to minimise collateral damage”. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, § 5.61.
The manual’s Glossary defines “feasible precautions” as: “Precautions which are practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time including humanitarian and military considerations.” 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, Glossary.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states:
All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack … Accordingly, the best possible intelligence is required concerning:
a.concentrations of civilians;
b.civilians who may be in the vicinity of military objectives;
c.the nature of built-up areas such as towns, communities, shelters, etc.;
d.the existence and nature of important civilian objects and specifically protected objects; and
e.the environment. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, §§ 548 and 549.
The manual also refers to the declarations made by Australia upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the effect that “military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time”. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, Chapter 5, Annex A.
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
5.53 … All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack …
5.54 Accordingly, the best possible intelligence is required concerning:
• concentrations of civilians;
• civilians who may be in the vicinity of military objectives;
• the nature of built-up areas such as towns, communities, shelters, etc;
• the existence and nature of important civilian objects and specifically protected objects; and
• the environment. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, §§ 5.53–5.54; see also § 2.9.
The manual also refers to the declarations made by Australia upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, to the effect that “military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time”. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, Chapter 5, Annex A.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Australia stated:
In relation to Articles 51 to 58 inclusive it is the understanding of Australia that military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time. 
Australia, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 21 June 1991, § 3.