Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Section C. Attacks against civilian objects in general
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) provides: “Civilian objects may not be attacked, except if they become military objectives.”
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) states:
The principle of discrimination, also known as the principle of precaution, requires belligerents to distinguish military objectives that may be attacked, from civilian objects and populations that must not be the object of any wilful voluntary attack.
France’s Code of Defence (2004), as amended in 2008, states that it “is … prohibited [for combatants] to destroy or seize civilian objects, except in the case of military necessity”.
France’s Penal Code (1992), as amended in 2010, states in its section on war crimes common to both international and non-international armed conflicts: “Intentionally launching attacks against civilian objects which are not military objectives is punishable by 15 years’ imprisonment.”
The instructions given to the French armed forces for the conduct of Opération Mistral, simulating a military operation under the right of self-defence or a mandate of the UN Security Council, state: “Civilian property shall not be made the object of attack.”