Practice Relating to Rule 15. The Principle of Precautions in Attack
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states: “In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.”
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states:
An attack on a military objective may not be considered indiscriminate, disproportionate or otherwise unlawful simply because there is a risk of collateral injury to civilians or civilian objects. Civilian casualties or damage incidental to attacks on legitimate military objectives are therefore not unlawful. Such injuries and damage, however, should not be disproportionate (that is, clearly excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated from the attack) and every feasible precaution must be taken to minimise them.
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) emphasizes that the obligation to verify targets, to choose means and methods of attack in order to avoid, and in any event to minimize, civilian losses and damage to civilian objects and the obligation to refrain from deciding to launch an attack which may be expected to cause disproportionate collateral damage is incumbent upon “those who plan or decide upon an attack”. The manual considers that:
This obligation presupposes that the measures are to be taken by a level which possesses a formalised planning process and a substantial degree of discretion concerning methods by which medium-term objectives are to be attained. It is unlikely that the proper level would normally be below a divisional or equivalent level of headquarters.
With respect to the notion of “feasible” precautions, the manual specifies that “feasible” means “that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time, including those relevant to the success of the military operations”.
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992), with respect to the standard by which to judge the duty to take all feasible precautions, states:
Any subsequent evaluation of conduct must focus on all the circumstances, including humanitarian and military considerations, as they appeared to decision makers at the time, rather than against an absolute standard.
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, New Zealand stated:
In relation to Article 51 to 58 inclusive, it the understanding of the Government of New Zealand that military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks necessarily have to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which is reasonably available to them at the relevant time.