Related Rule
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section C. Attacks against civilians
The UK Military Manual (1958) states: “It is a generally recognised rule of international law that civilians must not be made the object of attack directed exclusively against them.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of War on Land being Part III of the Manual of Military Law, The War Office, HMSO, 1958, §§ 13 and 88.
The UK LOAC Pamphlet (1981) states: “Civilians are protected from attack under the law of armed conflict.” 
United Kingdom, The Law of Armed Conflict, D/DAT/13/35/66, Army Code 71130 (Revised 1981), Ministry of Defence, prepared under the Direction of The Chief of the General Staff, 1981, Section 3, p. 10, § 9; see also Section 4, p. 14, § 5(a).
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states: “The civilian population as such, as well as individual civilians, shall not be the object of attack.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.20; see also § 15.49 (internal armed conflict).
In its chapter on air operations, the manual further states: “The civilian population and individual civilians must not be attacked and must be protected against the dangers arising from military operations.” 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 12.26; see also § 16.25.
The UK Geneva Conventions Act (1957), as amended in 1977, punishes “any person, whatever his nationality, who, whether in or outside the United Kingdom, commits, or aids, abets or procures the commission by any other person of, a grave breach of … [the 1977 Additional Protocol I]”. 
United Kingdom, Geneva Conventions Act, 1957, as amended in 1977, Section 1(1).
Under the UK ICC Act (2001), it is a punishable offence to commit a war crime as defined in Article 8(2)(b)(i) and (e)(i) of the 1998 ICC Statute. 
United Kingdom, ICC Act, 2001, Sections 50(1) and 51(1) (England and Wales) and Section 58(1) (Northern Ireland).
In 1938, during a debate in the House of Commons, the UK Prime Minister listed among rules of international law applicable to warfare on land, at sea and from the air the rule: “It is against international law to bomb civilians as such and to make deliberate attacks upon civilian populations.” 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Statement by the Prime Minister, Sir Neville Chamberlain, 21 June 1938, Hansard, Vol. 337, col. 937.
At the CDDH, the United Kingdom voted in favour of Article 46 of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 51), describing its first three paragraphs as containing a “valuable reaffirmation of existing customary rules of international law designed to protect civilians”. 
United Kingdom, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.41, 26 May 1977, p. 164, § 119.
A training video on IHL produced by the UK Ministry of Defence illustrates the rule that military operations must not be directed against civilians. 
United Kingdom, Ministry of Defence, Training Video: The Geneva Conventions, 1986, Report on UK Practice, 1997, Chapter 1.3.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the United Kingdom stated: “It is a well established principle of customary international law that the civilian population and individual civilians are not a legitimate target in their own right.” 
United Kingdom, Written statement submitted to the ICJ, Nuclear Weapons case, 16 June 1995, § 3.67.
In 2006, in reply to questions in the House of Commons concerning, inter alia, the treatment of the Karen people in Myanmar, the UK Minister of State for Trade, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated: “We condemn the attacks carried out by the Burmese army on civilians in northern and western Karen State.” 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written answer by the Minister of State for Trade, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 16 May 2006, Vol. 446, Written Answers, col. 893W.
In 2007, in a written answer to a question in the House of Lords concerning civilian casualties in Afghanistan, the UK Government Spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office wrote:
The UK joins the Agency Co-ordinating Body for Afghan Relief in condemning the actions of armed insurgents causing civilian casualties … International forces, including UK forces, seek at all times to avoid loss of civilian life. The targeting process, weapons selection, doctrine, training and rules of engagement are all in line with international humanitarian and human rights law and the law of armed conflict. 
United Kingdom, House of Lords, Written answer by the Government Spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 5 July 2007, Vol. 693, Written Answers, col. WA183.
In 2009, in response to a question by a Member of the House of Commons, the UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs wrote: “Rocket attacks by Palestinian militants targeted at innocent civilians in southern Israel constitute a breach of international humanitarian law.” 
United Kingdom, House of Commons, Written Statement by the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 29 October 2009, Vol. 498, Written Statements, col. 507W. See also House of Commons, Written Statement by the Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Hansard, 2 November 2009, Vol. 498, Written Statements, col. 664W.
The UK Government Strategy on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict (2010) states:
Protection of civilians in armed conflict matters from a legal perspective, because the UK has specific obligations concerning the protection of civilians in situations where it is involved in military action. International humanitarian law (IHL) provides that civilians shall enjoy general protection from the effects of armed conflict [and] protects civilians from being the object of attack. … [C]ivilians must not be the target of physical attacks. 
United Kingdom, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Government Strategy on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, March 2010, p. 2.
[emphasis in original]