Related Rule
Germany
Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states that it is prohibited “to injure military objectives, civilians, or civilian objects without distinction”. 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by the Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 401; see also § 429.
In 2010, in the Fuel Tankers case, the Federal Prosecutor General at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice investigated whether war crimes or other crimes under domestic law had been committed in the course of an airstrike which was ordered by a colonel (Oberst) of the German armed forces against two tankers transporting fuel for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan stolen by the Taliban near Kunduz and which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. The Federal Prosecutor General stated:
Pursuant to § 170 para. 2 StPO [Penal Procedure Code], the investigation proceedings which were initiated by the order of 12 March 2010 against Colonel (Oberst) Klein and Company Sergeant Major (Hauptfeldwebel) Wilhelm due to suspected offences under the VStGB [International Crimes Code] and other offences are to be terminated as a result of the investigations conducted and based on the sources of information set out hereafter and on the reasons given in detail hereafter. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 1.
The Federal Prosecutor General further stated that “the principle of distinction … is generally recognized as customary international law”. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 48.
In examining murder under Germany’s Penal Code, the Federal Prosecutor General also stated:
Colonel (Oberst) Klein’s actions were lawful under international law and therefore justified under domestic criminal law [hence not constituting murder] …
In the assessment of the lawfulness of military attacks in non-international armed conflict which result in the killing of persons, the victims’ status under the international law of armed conflict is of particular relevance. One must distinguish whether the victims are armed fighters of the adverse party, civilians directly participating in hostilities, or other civilians. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 59.
In 2010, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) titled “Killing of German nationals by a US drone attack – Intervention of the German judiciary”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
15. How does the Federal Government evaluate the legality of acts of targeted killing of persons within the context of international and non-international armed conflicts …?
International humanitarian law distinguishes in international and non-international armed conflicts between, on the one hand, armed forces opposing one another (international armed conflict) or armed forces and opposed organized armed groups (non-international [armed conflict]) and, on the other hand, civilians. 
Germany, Lower House of Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Reply by the Federal Government to the Minor Interpellation by Members Jerzy Montag, Hans-Christian Ströbele, Omit Nouripour, further Members and the Parliamentary Group BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, BT-Drs. 17/3916, 23 November 2010, p. 6.
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. 
Germany, 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.
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides that military objectives include, in particular, armed forces. 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten KonfliktenHandbuch, August 1992, § 443.
Germany’s Soldiers’ Manual (2006) states: “Combat operations may only be directed against the armed forces of the enemy and other military objectives, not however against the civilian population or civilian objects.” 
Germany, Druckschrift Insets Nar. 03, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Grundsätze, Rarities nachos ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, DSK SF009320187, Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, R II 3, August 2006, p. 3.
In 2010, in the Fuel Tankers case, the Federal Prosecutor General at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice investigated whether war crimes or other crimes under domestic law had been committed in the course of an airstrike which was ordered by a colonel (Oberst) of the German armed forces against two tankers transporting fuel for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan stolen by the Taliban near Kunduz and which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. The Federal Prosecutor General stated:
Pursuant to § 170 para. 2 StPO [Penal Procedure Code], the investigation proceedings which were initiated by the order of 12 March 2010 against Colonel (Oberst) Klein and Company Sergeant Major (Hauptfeldwebel) Wilhelm due to suspected offences under the Stub [International Crimes Code] and other offences are to be terminated as a result of the investigations conducted and based on the sources of information set out hereafter and on the reasons given in detail hereafter. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 1.
In examining murder under Germany’s Penal Code, the Federal Prosecutor General also stated:
Colonel (Oberst) Klein’s actions were lawful under international law and therefore justified under domestic criminal law [hence not constituting murder] …
In the assessment of the lawfulness of military attacks in non-international armed conflict which result in the killing of persons, the victims’ status under the international law of armed conflict is of particular relevance. One must distinguish whether the victims are armed fighters of the adverse party, civilians directly participating in hostilities, or other civilians. Persons who belong to the first two categories are in principle legitimate targets of military attacks. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 59.
In 2010, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) titled “Killing of German nationals by a US drone attack – Intervention of the German judiciary”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
15. How does the Federal Government evaluate the legality of acts of targeted killing of persons within the context of international and non-international armed conflicts …?
… [M]embers of the opposing armed forces (combatants) in international armed conflict and, in non-international armed conflict, members of organized armed groups exercising a continuous combat function may be lawfully targeted at all times as enemy fighters under international humanitarian law, including with the use of lethal force. 
Germany, Lower House of Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Reply by the Federal Government to the Minor Interpellation by Members Jerzy Montag, Hans-Christian Ströbele, Omit Nouripour, further Members and the Parliamentary Group BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, BT-Drs. 17/3916, 23 November 2010, p. 6.
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states: “The prohibition of indiscriminate warfare implies that the civilian population as such as well as individual civilians shall not be the object of attack and that they shall be spared as far as possible.” 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by the Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 404; see also § 429.
Germany’s IHL Manual (1996) states: “Pursuant to Article 85(3) of Additional Protocol I, attacks against the civilian population constitute serious violations of international law and therefore war crimes.” 
Germany, ZDv 15/1, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Grundsätze, DSK VV230120023, Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, June 1996, § 404; see also Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 1209.
Germany’s Soldiers’ Manual (2006) states:
Combat operations may only be directed against the armed forces of the enemy and other military objectives, not however against the civilian population or civilian objects …
Civilians who do not take part in combat operations shall be respected and protected. They may neither be attacked nor killed, wounded or captured. 
Germany, Druckschrift Einsatz Nr. 03, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Grundsätze, Erarbeitet nach ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, DSK SF009320187, Bundesministerium der Verteidigung, R II 3, August 2006, pp. 3–4.
Germany’s Law Introducing the International Crimes Code (2002) punishes anyone who, in connection with an international or a non-international armed conflict, “directs an attack by military means against the civilian population as such or against individual civilians not taking a direct part in hostilities”. 
Germany, Law Introducing the International Crimes Code, 2002, Article 1, § 11(1)(1).
In 2010, in the Fuel Tankers case, the Federal Prosecutor General at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice investigated whether war crimes or other crimes under domestic law had been committed in the course of an airstrike which was ordered by a colonel (Oberst) of the German armed forces against two tankers transporting fuel for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan stolen by the Taliban near Kunduz and which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. The Federal Prosecutor General stated:
Pursuant to § 170 para. 2 StPO [Penal Procedure Code], the investigation proceedings which were initiated by the order of 12 March 2010 against Colonel (Oberst) Klein and Company Sergeant Major (Hauptfeldwebel) Wilhelm due to suspected offences under the VStGB [International Crimes Code] and other offences are to be terminated as a result of the investigations conducted and based on the sources of information set out hereafter and on the reasons given in detail hereafter. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 1.
The Federal Prosecutor General further stated:
4.
Other crimes under the VStGB
Colonel (Oberst) Klein is not criminally responsible … for other crimes listed in the International Crimes Code. …
b)
Criminal responsibility under § 11 para. 1 no. 1 VStGB (attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians who are not directly participating in attacks) is excluded. … [T]he attack was not directed against civilians as such, but against military objectives. If civilians are injured as a side effect of such a military attack, only criminal responsibility under § 11 para. 1 no. 3, not § 11 para. 1 no. 1 VStGB is pertinent. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, pp. 50–51.
In examining murder under Germany’s Penal Code, the Federal Prosecutor General also stated:
Colonel (Oberst) Klein’s actions were lawful under international law and therefore justified under domestic criminal law …
In the assessment of the lawfulness of military attacks in non-international armed conflict which result in the killing of persons, the victims’ status under the international law of armed conflict is of particular relevance. One must distinguish whether the victims are armed fighters of the adverse party, civilians directly participating in hostilities, or other civilians. … Only civilians who are not directly participating in hostilities benefit from the protection of international humanitarian law. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 59.
In 1987, all parties in the German parliament condemned the Soviet “attacks against the civilian population, in particular against women and children” in Afghanistan. 
Germany, Lower House of Parliament, Proposal by the CDU/CSU, SPD, FDP and the Greens, 8 Jahre Krieg in Afghanistan, BT-Drucksache 11/1500, 9 December 1987, p. 1.
In an explanatory memorandum submitted to the German parliament in 1990 in the context of the ratification procedure of the Additional Protocols, the German Government stated, with reference to Article 51(2) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, that the prohibition of direct attacks on individual civilians or the civilian population was an integral part of customary international law. 
Germany, Lower House of Parliament, Explanatory memorandum on the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, BT-Drucksache 11/6770, 22 March 1990, p. 112.
In 1991, in reply to a question in parliament, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs condemned “the continued military engagements of Turkish troops against the civilian population in Kurdish areas as a serious violation of international law”. 
Germany, Reply by the Government to a question in the Lower House of Parliament, Mißachtung der Menschenrechte in der Türkei, BT-Drucksache 12/1918, 14 January 1992, p. 3; see also p. 5; see also Reply by the Government to a question in the Lower House of Parliament, Demokratisierungsprozeß in Irakisch-Kurdistan, BT-Drucksache 12/3028, 13 July 1992, p. 2.
In 1991, the German Chancellor described the missile attack carried out by Iraq against populated areas as a “brutal act of terror”. 
Germany, Statement by the Chancellor, Helmut Kohl, 23 January 1991, Bulletin, No. 7, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Bonn, 24 January 1991, p. 37.
A few days later, the German President denounced Iraq’s continued attacks against the civilian population of Israel as “particularly abhorrent”. 
Germany, Statement by the President, Richard von Weizsäcker, 29 January 1991, Bulletin, No. 10, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Bonn, 30 January 1991, p. 57.
In 1995, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs denounced the attack on the marketplace in Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina and stated: “The authors of this barbaric attack must be brought to account for their actions with all due consequences.” 
Michael Dynes and Ian Brodie, Sarajevo attack. Germany leads the condemnation of market massacre, Times Newspapers, 29 August 1995.
In 1995, the German Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the restoration of Russian territorial integrity in Chechnya did not justify the conduct of the Russian army in Grozny, namely “the bombardment of civilians and the killing of so many innocent persons”. 
Germany, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Klaus Kinkel, 19 January 1995, Bulletin, No. 5, Presse- und Informationsamt der Bundesregierung, Bonn, 23 January 1995, p. 38.
In 2009, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) titled “Investigation of serious violations of international humanitarian law in the recent Gaza war”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
9. How does the Federal Government assess the firing of rockets at towns and villages in Southern Israel by armed Palestinian groups in Gaza under international law?
Which specific provisions of international humanitarian law were violated by the Palestinian side?
The Federal Government condemns any act of violence and all acts of hostilities directed against civilians, as well as acts of terror. International humanitarian law prohibits attacks against the civilian population as such and against individual civilians. 
Germany, Lower House of Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Reply by the Federal Government to the Minor Interpellation by the Members Winfried Nachtwei, Kerstin Müller (Cologne), Jürgen Trittin, other Members and the Parliamentary Group BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, BT-Drs. 16/12673, 20 April 2009, p. 4.
The Federal Government also wrote:
14. Can the Federal Government confirm or deny that ammunition with white phosphorous has been used in densely populated areas (e.g. Gaza City) and against civilian installations (e.g. the UN), and how does the Federal Government assess such use under international humanitarian law?
The Federal Government is aware of allegations that Israel has used phosphorous weapons in a way that violated international law. This is the subject of a number of investigations, including by Israel. The Federal Government has no information of its own on whether such weapons were used. Smoke ammunition which includes white phosphorus is not prohibited as such under international humanitarian law. But its use must comply with the general rules of international humanitarian law. Hence a direct use against civilians would be unlawful. 
Germany, Lower House of Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Reply by the Federal Government to the Minor Interpellation by the Members Winfried Nachtwei, Kerstin Müller (Cologne), Jürgen Trittin, other Members and the Parliamentary Group BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, BT-Drs. 16/12673, 20 April 2009, p. 6.
In 2010, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) titled “Killing of German nationals by a US drone attack – Intervention of the German judiciary”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
15. How does the Federal Government evaluate the legality of acts of targeted killing of persons within the context of international and non-international armed conflicts …?
International humanitarian law distinguishes in international and non-international armed conflicts between, on the one hand, armed forces opposing one another (international armed conflict) or armed forces and opposed organized armed groups (non-international [armed conflict]) and, on the other hand, civilians.
… [C]ivilians may in principle not be directly attacked. 
Germany, Lower House of Federal Parliament (Bundestag), Reply by the Federal Government to the Minor Interpellation by Members Jerzy Montag, Hans-Christian Ströbele, Omit Nouripour, further Members and the Parliamentary Group BÜNDNIS 90/DIE GRÜNEN, BT-Drs. 17/3916, 23 November 2010, p. 6.