Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “For both the conduct of operations and behaviour in action, the main aim for all commanders and individual combatants is to distinguish combatants and military objectives from civilian persons and objects at all times.”
According to the Report on the Practice of Nigeria, it is Nigeria’s opinio juris
that the distinction between civilian objects and military objectives is part of customary international law.
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “Only military targets are to be attacked.”
The Report on the Practice of Nigeria states that, during the Nigerian civil war, the Nigerian air force, in its raids against rebel enclaves, distinguished between military targets and civilian objects, bombing military targets while assiduously avoiding non-military targets.
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “Civilian persons and objects must be spared.”
Nigeria’s Soldiers’ Code of Conduct provides: “Civilian persons and objects must be spared.”
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) states: “The military character of the objectives and targets must be verified and precaution taken not to attack non-military objectives like merchant ships, civilian aircraft, etc.”
The manual further states that foreign aircraft “of no military importance shall not be captured or attacked except [when] they are of a dubious status, i.e., when it is uncertain whether it is a military objective or not. In that case, it may be stopped and searched so as to establish its status.”
The manual also states: “Specifically protected … transports recognised as such must be respected … though they could be inspected to ascertain their contents and effective use.”
According to Nigeria’s Manual on the Laws of War, “civilian aircraft belong[ing] to the enemy flying outside their own territory, in a zone controlled by the state or close to it, or near the battle zone can be shot down only when they do not comply with landing orders”.