Related Rule
Practice Relating to Rule 139. Respect for International Humanitarian Law
Section A. General
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) states:
Combatants shall respect at any place and in all circumstances the rules of the law of armed conflicts. They may in no case release themselves from those rules, regardless of the framework and the mandate of their mission. 
France, Fiche didactique relative au droit des conflits armés, Directive of the Ministry of Defence, 4 January 2000, annexed to the Directive No. 147 of the Ministry of Defence of 4 January 2000, p. 7.
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides: “Combatants shall respect the law of armed conflict in all circumstances.” 
France, Manuel de droit des conflits armés, Ministère de la Défense, Direction des Affaires Juridiques, Sous-Direction du droit international humanitaire et du droit européen, Bureau du droit des conflits armés, 2001, p. 14.
France’s Code of Defence (2004), as amended in 2008, states:
When exercising the authority of a commander, the member of the military … [h]as the right and the duty to demand obedience from subordinates; he cannot order the performance of acts contrary to the laws, rules of international law applicable to armed conflicts and international conventions in force. 
France, Code of Defence, 2004, as amended in 2008, Article D4122-2.
The Code of Defence also states:
Combatants are subject to the obligations arising from the international law applicable to armed conflicts, in particular the laws and customs of war as well as the four [1949] Geneva Conventions”. 
France, Code of Defence, 2004, as amended in 2008, Article D4122-7.
In a white paper on “Defence and National Security” published in 2008, France’s Ministry of Defence stated:
The sovereignty of a State consists, first of all, of protecting its population. Neither the principle of non-interference nor the one of sovereignty can be evoked by a State in order to justify atrocities such as massacres and other massive violations of international humanitarian law. 
France, Ministry of Defence, Defence and National Security: The White Paper, 17 June 2008, p. 123.
In 2009, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
In a period of armed conflict there is in fact a body of rules and principles that all parties to the conflict must obey: international humanitarian law.
… [A]ll states parties to the conventions [1949 Geneva Conventions and their protocols] must … obey them …
I am convinced that compliance with international humanitarian law must be made the subject of depoliticized discussions at the United Nations, since such compliance is the duty of all, irrespective of the legitimacy of the military action undertaken by a specific state or armed group. 
France, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, “The Savaging of Humanitarian Law”, New York Times, 28 January 2009, pp. 1–3.
In 2009, the President of the French Republic stated:
We cannot resign ourselves to the suffering of millions of women and men who are victims of wars …
We would like to give priority to … imposing the effective application of international humanitarian law …
All parties to a conflict, and in the first place States, shall strictly respect their commitment to apply the provisions of international humanitarian law.
The respect for international humanitarian law is not negotiable. It is not subject either to the requirements of the fight against terrorism. 
France, Address by the President of the French Republic on the 90th Anniversary of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, 4 May 2009, pp. 2–3.
In 2009, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France stated:
France is firmly committed to the respect of the principles of international humanitarian law. At the initiative of France, a meeting of the Security Council dedicated to respect for international humanitarian law in armed conflicts in January 2009 reaffirmed that. On that occasion, the members of the Council agreed upon a presidential declaration reiterating that all parties to a conflict, whatever conflict it is, are required to respect international humanitarian law. It is crucial that any violation of international humanitarian law and human rights law can be identified and treated in an adequate manner, and that everyone’s responsibilities are made evident. Regarding in particular the crisis in Gaza, France has constantly affirmed that it would support any investigation provided that it is independent and impartial and covers all violations of international humanitarian law, regardless of who are the victims: Palestinians or Israeli civilians. 
France, Response from the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs to parliamentary written question No. 56220, Journal officiel de la République française, 22 September 2009, p. 8983.