Related Rule
Belgium
Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Belgium’s Law of War Manual (1983) provides: “A distinction must always be made between the civilian population and those participating in hostilities: the latter may be attacked, the former may not.” 
Belgium, Droit Pénal et Disciplinaire Militaire et Droit de la Guerre, Deuxième Partie, Droit de la Guerre, Ecole Royale Militaire, par J. Maes, Chargé de cours, Avocat-général près la Cour Militaire, D/1983/1187/029, 1983, p. 26.
A report submitted to the Belgian Senate in 1991 noted that the principle of distinction remained the foundation of the law of armed conflict. 
Belgium, Senate, Report, Enquête parlementaire sur l’existence en Belgique d’un réseau de renseignements clandestin international, 1990–1991 Session, Doc. 1117-4, 1 October 1991, § 20.
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers states that only enemy combatants may be attacked. 
Belgium, Droit de la Guerre, Dossier d’Instruction pour Soldat, à l’attention des officiers instructeurs, JS3, Etat-Major Général, Forces Armées belges (undated), pp. 7, 10, 14 and 41.
Belgium’s Teaching Manual for Soldiers states that civilians must not be attacked. 
Belgium, Droit de la Guerre, Dossier d’Instruction pour Soldat, à l’attention des officiers instructeurs, JS3, Etat-Major Général, Forces Armées belges, undated, p. 7; see also pp. 10, 14 and 41.
Belgium’s Penal Code (1867), as amended in 2003, provides:
[N]o necessity of a … military … nature … can justify the offences defined in … [Article] 136 septies [which include the war crime of directly attacking the civilian population or individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities], even when they have been committed by way of reprisal. 
Belgium, Penal Code, 1867, as amended on 5 August 2003, Chapter III, Title I bis, Article 136 quater, § 1(20).
Belgium’s Law concerning the Repression of Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols (1993), as amended in 1999, provides that “making the civilian population or individual civilians the object of attack” constitutes a crime under international law. 
Belgium, Law concerning the Repression of Grave Breaches of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols, 1993, as amended in 1999, Article 1(3)(11).
Belgium’s Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law (1993), as amended in 2003, provides:
War crimes envisaged in the 1949 [Geneva] Conventions … and in the [1977 Additional Protocols I and II] … , as well as in Article 8(2)(f) of the [1998] Statute of the International Criminal Court and listed below, … constitute crimes under international law and shall be punished in accordance with the provisions of the present title … :
11. intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities. 
Belgium, Law relating to the Repression of Grave Breaches of International Humanitarian Law, 1993, as amended on 23 April 2003, Article 1 ter, § 1(11).
In 1969, during a debate in the UN General Assembly, Belgium referred to the conflict in Nigeria as non-international and, in this context, referred to “the reprobation and prohibition of everything leading to total war where civilian, non-combatant inhabitants, who often have nothing whatever to do with the conflict, become the victims of war through … being the victims of attacks”. 
Belgium, Statement before the UN General Assembly, UN Doc. A/PV.1765, 25 September 1969, §§ 130–133.
In an explanatory memorandum submitted to the Belgian parliament in 1985 in the context of the ratification procedure of the Additional Protocols, the Belgian Government stated:
Article 51 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] embodies the first statement in treaty law of the customary law principle of civilian immunity [from attack], whether against individual civilians or against the civilian population as a whole. 
Belgium, House of Representatives, Explanatory memorandum on a draft bill for the approval of the Additional Protocols, 1984–1985 Session, Doc. 1096-1, 9 January 1985, p. 10.
In 2007, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Africa, the representative of Belgium stated, with reference to Sudan:
The attacks against civilians, carried out as much by the Governmental forces as by the rebel forces and militias, are continuing, and serious violations of international law are increasing in number. Such violations are clearly unacceptable, and we cannot tolerate their continuation. While underscoring the chief responsibility of the Government of the Sudan, Belgium insists that all parties must ensure the protection of civilians. … My delegation is convinced that the protection of civilians … must be the absolute priority of the international community. 
Belgium, Statement by the deputy permanent representative of Belgium before the UN Security Council on “The situation in Africa”, 4 April 2007, p. 11.