Practice Relating to Rule 23. Location of Military Objectives outside Densely Populated Areas
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that one of the precautions against the effects of attacks consists of:
avoiding the placement of military objectives in or near densely populated areas … Although the physical separation of civilians and civilian objects from military objectives is an obvious measure for the protection of the population, it is nevertheless a measure that will often encounter great difficulties in densely populated areas. It is essential that the civilian population is not used as a human shield for military operations.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
Section 8 - Precautions against (effects of) attacks
0549. Precautions when attacking
This is about the measures which a party to an armed conflict must take against the consequences of attacks on military objectives in the area under its control.
The precautions are as follows:
- to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas.
[emphasis in original]
The manual further states that “the positioning of military objectives near cultural property should be avoided”.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states: “They [participants in an internal armed conflict] must not place fighters, weapon systems, etc., near vital civilian objects or cultural property.”