Practice Relating to Rule 15. The Principle of Precautions in Attack

No data.
San Remo Manual
Paragraph 46(a) of the 1994 San Remo Manual states: “Those who plan, decide upon or execute an attack must take all feasible measures to gather information which will assist in determining whether or not objects which are not military objectives are present in an area of attack.” 
Louise Doswald-Beck (ed.), San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea, 12 June 1994, Prepared by international lawyers and naval experts convened by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1995, § 46(a).
Australia
Australia’s Defence Force Manual (1994) states:
All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack … Accordingly, the best possible intelligence is required concerning:
a.concentrations of civilians;
b.civilians who may be in the vicinity of military objectives;
c.the nature of built-up areas such as towns, communities, shelters, etc.;
d.the existence and nature of important civilian objects and specifically protected objects; and
e.the environment. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, §§ 548 and 549.
The manual also refers to the declarations made by Australia upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the effect that “military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time”. 
Australia, Manual on Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Force Publication, Operations Series, ADFP 37 – Interim Edition, 1994, Chapter 5, Annex A.
Australia
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states:
5.53 … All reasonable precautions must be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilians and civilian objects and locations. It is therefore important to obtain accurate intelligence before mounting an attack …
5.54 Accordingly, the best possible intelligence is required concerning:
• concentrations of civilians;
• civilians who may be in the vicinity of military objectives;
• the nature of built-up areas such as towns, communities, shelters, etc;
• the existence and nature of important civilian objects and specifically protected objects; and
• the environment. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, §§ 5.53–5.54; see also § 2.9.
The manual also refers to the declarations made by Australia upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, to the effect that “military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time”. 
Australia, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Australian Defence Doctrine Publication 06.4, Australian Defence Headquarters, 11 May 2006, Chapter 5, Annex A.
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Benin
Benin’s Military Manual (1995) states: “Military commanders must inform themselves about concentrations of civilian persons, important civilian objects and specially protected facilities, the natural environment and the civilian environment of military objectives.” 
Benin, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Forces Armées du Bénin, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1995, Fascicule III, p. 12.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states:
Decisions will be based on the “circumstances ruling at the time”. Consideration must be paid to the honest judgement of responsible commanders, based on the information reasonably available to them at the relevant time, taking fully into account the urgent and difficult circumstances under which such judgements are usually made. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, pp. 4-3/4-4, § 26.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on targeting:
418. Standard of care
1. Commanders, planners and staff officers will not be held to a standard of perfection in reaching their decisions.
2. Commanders, planners and staff officers are required to take all “feasible” steps to verify that potential targets are legitimate targets. However, such decisions will be based on the “circumstances ruling at the time”. Consideration must be paid to the honest judgement of responsible commanders, based on the information reasonably available to them at the relevant time, taking fully into account the urgent and difficult circumstances under which such judgements are usually made.
3. The test for determining whether the required standard of care has been met is an objective one: Did the commander, planner or staff officer do what a reasonable person would have done in the circumstances? 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 418.1–3.
Canada
Canada’s Use of Force Manual (2008), in a section entitled “Principles and rules governing the use of force that directly relates to the conduct of armed conflict”, states:
Standard of care. … Decisions concerning the use of force shall be reached on the basis of an assessment of the information reasonably available at the relevant time and that such decisions cannot be judged on the basis of information which has subsequently come to light. Reasonable, good faith efforts must be made to gather intelligence and to review the available intelligence. 
Canada, Use of Force for CF Operations, Canadian Forces Joint Publication, Chief of the Defence Staff, B-GJ-005-501/FP-001, August 2008, § 112.6.
Central African Republic
The Central African Republic’s Instructor’s Manual (1999) states in Volume 3 (Instruction for non-commissioned officers studying for the level 1 and 2 certificates and for future officers of the criminal police):
To accomplish his mission a military commander needs appropriate intelligence on the enemy and the environment.
To be able to comply with the law of war, intelligence must comprise the following information:
- concentrations of civilian persons;
- the civilian environment;
- types of built-up areas (towns, villages, shelters, etc.);
- the presence and type of major civilian objects, in particular specially protected objects;
- the natural environment. 
Central African Republic, Le Droit de la Guerre, Fascicule No. 3: Formation pour l’obtention du Brevet d’Armes No. 1, du Brevet d’Armes No. 2 et le stage d’Officier de Police Judiciaire (OPJ), Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Centrafricaines, 1999, Chapter II, Section II, § 2.1; see also Chapter III, Section I.
Also in Volume 3, the manual states: “Military commanders must inform themselves about concentrations of civilians, important civilian objects and specially protected facilities, the natural environment and the civilian environment of military objectives.” 
Central African Republic, Le Droit de la Guerre, Fascicule No. 3: Formation pour l’obtention du Brevet d’Armes No. 1, du Brevet d’Armes No. 2 et le stage d’Officier de Police Judiciaire (OPJ), Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Centrafricaines, 1999, Chapter III, Section 1.
Croatia
Croatia’s Commanders’ Manual (1992) states: “The commander shall keep himself informed on concentrations of civilian persons, important civilian objects and specifically protected establishments.” 
Croatia, Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflicts – Commanders’ Manual, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Defence, 1992, § 44; see also § 31.
Ecuador
Ecuador’s Naval Manual (1989) states:
The commander must decide, in light of all the facts known or reasonably available to him, including the need to conserve resources and complete the mission successfully, whether to adopt an alternative method of attack, if reasonably available, to reduce civilian casualties and damage. 
Ecuador, Aspectos Importantes del Derecho Internacional Marítimo que Deben Tener Presente los Comandantes de los Buques, Academia de Guerra Naval, 1989, § 8.1.2.1.
France
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) states:
Commanders are responsible for the consequences for civilians of the military actions they take. They must, prior to any action, obtain a maximum of information concerning the nature and the location of protected objects (medical units, cultural objects, installations containing dangerous forces) and concerning any concentration of civilians. 
France, Fiche de Synthèse sur les Règles Applicables dans les Conflits Armés, Note No. 432/DEF/EMA/OL.2/NP, Général de Corps d’Armée Voinot (pour l’Amiral Lanxade, Chef d’Etat-major des Armées), 1992, § 5.2.
Italy
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) states: “The commander shall keep himself informed on concentrations of civilian persons, important civilian objects and specifically protected establishments.” 
Italy, Regole elementari di diritto di guerra, SMD-G-012, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, § 44; see also § 31.
Madagascar
Madagascar’s Military Manual (1994) states: “The commander must seek information concerning concentrations of civilian persons, important civilian objects and specifically protected establishments.” 
Madagascar, Le Droit des Conflits Armés, Ministère des Forces Armées, August 1994, Fiche No. 6-O, § 12; see also Fiche No. 5-O, § 31.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
0511. The circumstances of the time are decisive to whether an object constitutes a military objective. The definition leaves the necessary discretion to the commanding officer. The Dutch Government, in ratifying AP I [1977 Additional Protocol I], has declared in this connection that military commanders who are responsible for carrying out attacks must base their decisions on their evaluation of the information available to them at the time …
0512. …
During the second Gulf War (1990–91), the allied forces identified the Al-Firdus bunker in Baghdad as a military objective. The complex was surrounded by barbed wire barriers and was protected by an armed guard. However, it was not known that the complex was also used as overnight accommodation for Iraqi civilians. Attacks on the bunker complex resulted in 300 civilian fatalities. Given the information available at the time of the attack, the allied forces had firm grounds for classifying the complex as a military objective.
0544. If an attack has begun, it may be necessary to give orders to halt or suspend it. Essentially the same rules apply to this as to refraining from attack at the preparatory stage.
The extent to which commanding officers and their staffs, if any, may be bound by these rules depends on three specific factors:
- freedom of choice of means and methods;
- availability of intelligence;
- available time.
The higher the level, the stricter the requirement for the application of the rules …
0547. The rules of the law of war on attacking military objectives always apply in toto to the targeting process. This is a cyclical process of identifying and targeting objectives. The targeting process is integral to the command process at all levels. It demands coordination among a number of staff officers, including the legal adviser (staff jurist). The selection of targets gives a general view which forms the basis for intelligence gathering. Target detection is the next stage in the process. Information on the target must be analysed so that the final purpose of targeting can proceed. Finally, the result of targeting must be evaluated, to check whether the desired effect is achieved.
0548. The targeting process has several aspects in the law of war. In the first place, detected targets must be appraised in terms of the law of war. Does the target meet the criteria of a “military objective” (see points 0508 ff.)? The attacker must make sure that the objective to be attacked really is military. Where necessary, intelligence obtained must be verified. Then it is necessary to review how the objective is placed in relation to the civilian population and civilian objects. If necessary, precautionary measures must be taken in the choice of means and methods to be used. The issue in choosing the means is not only whether to use aeroplanes, helicopters or artillery, but also what types of bombs and ammunition to use. The choice of methods concerns, for example, the techniques of attack of fighter aircraft. The timing of the attack is another relevant factor.
The Air Force targeting cycle
The cyclical process of target selection begins with the issue of orders and guidelines by the Joint Force Commander (JFC). During the targeting cycle, the JFC’s objectives and guidelines are supplemented with intelligence and operational information, in order to select specific targets. This also serves to determine the means of achieving the desired effect of targeting. Target selection mechanisms exist at various levels. National governments or higher command headquarters may impose policy directives, restrictions and priorities on the JFC.
Joint Targeting Coordination Board
The JFC may set up a joint targeting coordination board (JTCB) to allow an integrated process of targeting to proceed. Key officers of the operational units and national liaison officers may be added to the JTCB. The JTCB may analyse target information, develop guidelines, set priorities and must compile a list of targets (the Joint Integrated Prioritized Target List or JIPTL).
Stages
The air force targeting cycle consists of six stages:
- Stage 1: coordination with component commanders (sea, land and air). The JFC regularly consults the component commanders on the results of operations, the strategy to follow and future operational plans. The JFC makes his purposes clear, provides general guidelines and determines his criteria for success. In doing so, he describes his intentions in detail and determines or adapts his priorities. The target list, compiled in this round of the coordination, includes the rules of engagement.
- Stage 2: target development. The JFC’s guidelines are used to develop targets. These are selected from the target list, requests for support from component commanders, and intelligence information. The end-product of stage 2 is a prioritized target list, the JIPTL.
- Stage 3: choice of weapons and allocation of resources, based on the JIPTL. The information is developed for approved targets. This includes stating the desired main point of impact (DMPI).
- Stage 4: Plan of implementation. The component commanders may still submit amendments to support requests at this stage. There is a greater need for explicit instructions, the more the participating units are dispersed, are of different nationalities, or originate from different sections of the armed forces.
- Stage 5: Implementation. The units carry out the actions as ordered.
- Stage 6: Combat assessment. This takes place at all levels of the joint force, and is necessary to ascertain the effectiveness of the accomplished missions. A good combat assessment requires a thorough and prompt battle damage assessment (BDA) and weapons effects analysis (WEA). Based on these, a quick decision can be taken to attack the targets further.
Flexible targeting
During execution of the mission (stage 5), it is possible to respond to targets which suddenly emerge, or to a rapidly changing operational situation, resulting in a changed order of priority. For this purpose, a process has been developed called flexible or flex targeting. Flexible targeting uses near-real-time information obtainable from various sources in the field of operations. Thus electronic and optical reconnaissance information can be used for the rapid addition of dynamic targets to the targeting cycle. The observations of forward air controllers (FACs), who may be airborne or attached to land units, may also furnish information about targets. The nearest FAC may be given direct clearance for an approved target. For the air force, the AWACS, in consultation with the FAC, observes which attack aircraft are in the vicinity and available. Depending on proximity to buildings, the probabilities of collateral damage and victims among the civilian population, and the rules of engagement, the FAC decides whether to attack, and which of the available aircraft and weapon systems to use. Both for stage 5 and for flex targeting, pilots on an attack mission may come across information which must be considered in the targeting process. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 0511, 0512, 0544, 0547–0548.
[emphasis in original]
New Zealand
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. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 518(4).
Nigeria
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) provides: “The commander, through his intelligence network shall get information on the circumstance of the military relevancy of the zone, specifically protected zones or objects in his area of operations.” 
Nigeria, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Directorate of Legal Services, Nigerian Army, 1994, p. 43, § 14.
Peru
Peru’s IHL Manual (2004) states:
In order to fulfil their mission, commanders require reliable information on the enemy and the area of action.
(1) To ensure that the mission is carried out in accordance with international humanitarian law, the information must include intelligence on:
(a) concentrations of civilians;
(b) civilians and civilian objects in the vicinity of military objectives;
(c) nature of urban areas (cities, villages, shelters, etc.);
(d) existence and nature of important civilian objects, particularly specifically protected objects;
(e) natural environment.
(2) It should be taken into account that a distinction must be made between permitted and prohibited methods of gathering information. 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial Nº 1394-2004-DE/CCFFAA/CDIH-FFAA, Lima, 1 December 2004, § 27.b.
The manual further states: “The commander must draw up a list of all objects in the area under his responsibility in order to verify which of them are military objectives and which of them are protected civilian objects and persons under international humanitarian law.” 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial Nº 1394-2004-DE/CCFFAA/CDIH-FFAA, Lima, 1 December 2004, § 99.
Peru
Peru’s IHL and Human Rights Manual (2010) states:
In order to fulfil their mission, commanders require adequate information on the enemy and the area of action.
(1) To comply with International Humanitarian Law, the information must include:
(a) Concentrations of civilians.
(b) The civilian environment of military objectives.
(c) The nature of urban areas (cities, villages, shelters, etc.).
(d) The existence and nature of important civilian objects, particularly specifically protected objects.
(e) The natural environment.
(2) It should be taken into account that a distinction must be made between permitted and prohibited methods of gathering information. 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derechos Humanos para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial No. 049-2010/DE/VPD, Lima, 21 May 2010, § 30(b), p. 237.
The manual also states: “The commander must draw up a list of all objects in the area under his responsibility in order to verify them in accordance with international humanitarian law, distinguishing between military objectives and protected civilians and civilian objects.” 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derechos Humanos para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial No. 049-2010/DE/VPD, Lima, 21 May 2010, § 90, p. 291.
South Africa
South Africa’s LOAC Teaching Manual (2008) states:
Importance of Intelligence ([1907] Regulations to Hague Convention IV Article 29 and [1977] Additional Protocol 1 Articles 57 and 58)
- To enable the military commander to fulfill his mission while causing the minimum collateral damage or suffering to the civilian population and objects, he needs appropriate and up to date information about the enemy and the environment.
- To comply with the LOAC [law of armed conflict], information must include information on:
- The concentration of civilian persons;
- Civilian surroundings of military objectives;
- The nature of built up areas (towns, villages, shelters, etc);
- The existence and nature of important civilian objects, particularly of specifically protected objects such as cultural objects, objects containing dangerous forces, etc; and
- The natural environment. 
South Africa, Advanced Law of Armed Conflict Teaching Manual, School of Military Justice, 1 April 2008, as amended to 25 October 2013, Learning Unit 1, p. 46.
The manual also states:
Precautions in Attack
- Incidental or Collateral Damage
- … Due regard must be had to the principle of proportionality at all times and all feasible precautions must be taken to gather accurate intelligence and to ensure attacks are directed exclusively against military objectives.
- Collateral damage or injury would be unlawful in any instance in which injury or damage was so excessive, when compared to the military advantage expected to be gained by the attack, as to clearly indicate willful intent or wanton disregard for the safety of the civilian population. However, the honest judgement of responsible commanders, based on the information reasonably available to them at the relevant time and taking into account the urgent and difficult circumstances under which such judgements are usually made.
Ensuring Protection of Specifically Protected Objects
- There is a duty on military commanders to obtain proper and sufficient intelligence regarding the specifically protected objects in his area of operations.
- Military commanders must also ensure that they have sufficient information on specifically protected objects which are important in size or which are particularly endangered through their location.
- The commander must use this information to take all necessary precautions, such as:
- Alternative solutions, eg avoiding the immediate vicinity of an object, using another road for transportations, etc;
- Recommendations with regard to particularly valuable and endangered parts of an object; and
- Recommendations for proper and sufficient marking of objects and its personnel. This can be done by the defender directly to the local authorities or by the attacker to his opponent either directly or, when time allows, through intermediaries. 
South Africa, Advanced Law of Armed Conflict Teaching Manual, School of Military Justice, 1 April 2008, as amended to 25 October 2013, Learning Unit 3, pp. 182–184 and 189.
The manual further states:
Operational Planning
Commanders must base their decisions on:
- The given mission;
- Intelligence available;
- Precautions required by the LOAC that are practical, based on the current tactical situation and based on military and humanitarian considerations.
Conclusion
Commanders must take the necessary precautions in attacks to avoid or minimise collateral loss of civilian life or damage to civilian property. This responsibility necessitates the availability of effective intelligence. 
South Africa, Advanced Law of Armed Conflict Teaching Manual, School of Military Justice, 1 April 2008, as amended to 25 October 2013, Learning Unit 5, pp. 242 and 246.
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) states:
Information is one of the basic pillars on which a commander must base his decisions. A commander needs information about the presence of protected persons and objects in the zone of operation, the nature and location of medical establishments, the location of cultural and religious objects, nuclear power plants, concentrations of civilian persons, movements of populations, etc. 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Publicación OR7-004, 2 Tomos, aprobado por el Estado Mayor del Ejército, División de Operaciones, 18 March 1996, Vol. I, § 2.3.b.(5); see also § 5.3.b.
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states:
Information is one of the essential pillars on which commanders base their decisions. Commanders must include in their information requirements the presence in the area of protected people and property, the nature and location of medical establishments, the location of cultural and religious property, nuclear power stations, concentrations of civilian population, population movements, etc. 
Spain, Orientaciones. El Derecho de los Conflictos Armados, Tomo 1, Publicación OR7–004, (Edición Segunda), Mando de Adiestramiento y Doctrina, Dirección de Doctrina, Orgánica y Materiales, 2 November 2007, § 2.3.b.(5); see also § 5.3.b.
Sweden
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) states that the obligations to take precautions in attack “apply only as far as available resources for collection and processing of information permit”. The manual adds:
A planning commander must, to be able to decide upon an attack, have access to the best possible information about the objective. The decision should be based upon the information available to the commander at the time of deciding. 
Sweden, International Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflict, with reference to the Swedish Total Defence System, Swedish Ministry of Defence, January 1991, Section 3.2.1.5, pp. 70–71.
Togo
Togo’s Military Manual (1996) states: “Military commanders must inform themselves about concentrations of civilian persons, important civilian objects and specially protected facilities, the natural environment and the civilian environment of military objectives.” 
Togo, Le Droit de la Guerre, III fascicules, Etat-major Général des Forces Armées Togolaises, Ministère de la Défense nationale, 1996, Fascicule III, p. 12.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states:
The commander must decide, in light of all the facts known or reasonably available to him, including the need to conserve resources and complete the mission successfully, whether to adopt an alternative method of attack, if reasonably available, to reduce civilian casualties and damage. 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-2.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Transportation, US Coast Guard, October 1995 (formerly NWP 9 (Rev. A)/FMFM 1-10, October 1989), § 8.1.2.1.
United States of America
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states:
[T]he commander must decide, in light of all the facts known or reasonably available to him, including the need to conserve resources and complete the mission successfully, whether to adopt an alternative method of attack, if reasonably available, to reduce civilian casualties and damage. 
United States, The Commander’s Handbook on the Law of Naval Operations, NWP 1-14M/MCWP 5-12.1/COMDTPUB P5800.7, issued by the Department of the Navy, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and Headquarters, US Marine Corps, and Department of Homeland Security, US Coast Guard, July 2007, § 8.3.1.
No data.
Germany
In 2010, in the Fuel Tankers case, the Federal Prosecutor General at Germany’s Federal Court of Justice investigated whether war crimes or other crimes under domestic law had been committed in the course of an airstrike which was ordered by a colonel (Oberst) of the German armed forces against two tankers transporting fuel for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan stolen by the Taliban near Kunduz and which resulted in the deaths of a number of civilians. The Federal Prosecutor General stated:
Pursuant to § 170 para. 2 StPO [Penal Procedure Code], the investigation proceedings which were initiated by the order of 12 March 2010 against Colonel (Oberst) Klein and Company Sergeant Major (Hauptfeldwebel) Wilhelm due to suspected offences under the VStGB [International Crimes Code] and other offences are to be terminated as a result of the investigations conducted and based on the sources of information set out hereafter and on the reasons given in detail hereafter. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 1.
The Federal Prosecutor General also stated:
C. Assessment of the evidence
Colonel (Oberst) Klein had no reason to doubt the correctness of the statements by the informant [that no civilians were near the fuel tankers]. …
Lastly, the individual orders by Colonel (Oberst) Klein concerning the arrangement of the military processes also show that he was at all times keen to avoid any civilian victims. Therefore, he ordered that the source was called at least seven times in order to explicitly ask who was present on the ground. He did not give these orders because he had doubts about the credibility of the source’s previous statements. Rather, he endeavoured to constantly double-check his understanding of the situation and to exclude that in the meantime had civilians moved to the tankers. Only after he was sure that the source’s statements corresponded to the video pictures transmitted by the aircrafts and that no further information from other sources was to be expected, did he decide to drop bombs on the fuel tankers. 
Germany, Federal Court of Justice, Federal Prosecutor General, Fuel Tankers case, Decision, 16 April 2010, p. 30.
Algeria
Upon accession to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Algeria stated: “To judge any decision, the circumstances, the means and the information available at the time the decision was made are determinant factors and elements in assessing the nature of the said decision.” 
Algeria, Interpretative declarations made upon accession to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 16 August 1989, § 2.
Austria
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Austria stated:
Article 57, paragraph 2, of Protocol I will be applied on the understanding that, with respect to any decision taken by a military commander, the information actually available at the time of the decision is determinative. 
Austria, Reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 13 August 1982, § 1.
Austria further stated:
For the purposes of judging any decision taken by a military commander, Articles 85 and 86 of Protocol I will be applied on the understanding that military imperatives, the reasonable possibility of recognizing them and the information actually available at the time that decision was taken, are determinative. 
Austria, Reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 13 August 1982, § 4.
Australia
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Australia stated:
In relation to Articles 51 to 58 inclusive it is the understanding of Australia that military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon, or executing attacks, necessarily have to reach their decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources, which is available to them at the relevant time. 
Australia, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 21 June 1991, § 3.
Belgium
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Belgium stated:
With respect to Part IV, Section I, of the Protocol, the Belgian Government wishes to emphasize that, whenever a military commander is required to take a decision affecting the protection of civilians or civilian objects or objects assimilated therewith, the only information on which that decision can possibly be taken is such relevant information as is then available and that it has been feasible from him to obtain for that purpose. 
Belgium, Interpretative declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 20 May 1986, § 3.
Canada
At the CDDH, Canada stated:
Commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing necessary attacks, have to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of whatever information from all sources may be available to them at the relevant time. 
Canada, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.41, 26 May 1977, p. 178.
Canada
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Canada stated:
It is the understanding of the Government of Canada that, in relation to Articles 48, 51 to 60 inclusive, 62 and 67, military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing attacks have to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information reasonably available to them at the relevant time and that such decisions cannot be judged on the basis of information which has subsequently come to light. 
Canada, Reservations and statements of understanding made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 20 November 1990, § 7.
Egypt
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Egypt stated: “Military commanders planning or executing attacks make their decisions on the basis of their assessment of all kinds of information available to them at the time of the military operations.” 
Egypt, Declaration made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 9 October 1992.
Germany, Federal Republic of
At the CDDH, the Federal Republic of Germany stated:
Commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing an attack necessarily have to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which is available to them at the relevant time. 
Germany, Federal Republic of, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, Vol. VI, p. 226.
Germany
In an explanatory memorandum submitted to the German Parliament in 1990 in the context of the ratification procedure of the Additional Protocols, the German Government stated:
Article 57 [of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] contains high requirements for military commanders. They can only evaluate the situation on the basis of facts at their disposal during the planning and execution of an attack. Military commanders cannot be held responsible on the basis of facts they did not know, and could not have known, and which became only clear afterwards. 
Germany, Lower House of Parliament, Explanatory memorandum on the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, BT-Drucksache 11/6770, 22 March 1990, p. 113.
Germany
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Germany stated:
It is the understanding of the Federal Republic of Germany that in the application of the provisions of Part IV, Section I, of Additional Protocol I, to military commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing attacks, the decision taken by the person responsible has to be judged on the basis of all information available to him at the relevant time, and not on the basis of hindsight.  
Germany, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 14 February 1991, § 4.
Ireland
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Ireland stated:
In relation to Article 51 to 58 inclusive, it is the understanding of Ireland 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. 
Ireland, Declarations and reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 19 May 1999, § 9.
Israel
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
For attacks planned in advance, the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces’] efforts to implement the principles of distinction and proportionality began at the initial planning stage, where each operation and target was considered on an individual basis in order to ensure that it met the requirements of distinction, proportionality and precautions in attack. Targeting decisions which were planned in advance were reviewed by several IDF authorities, including MAG [Military Advocate General’s Corps] officers. The decision-making process involved an in-depth analysis of all relevant considerations, which was based upon the available intelligence, including the operational needs, the anticipated damage to property and sensitive sites, the anticipated harm to civilians, and so on. Whenever possible, the IDF verified the accuracy of the information on the target by cross-checking updated and independent intelligence sources. In this process, the IDF disapproved some, approved others only under certain conditions, such as the time of the attack, the type of weapons used (in order to achieve the military goal while reducing collateral damage), or required precautions prior to attack. On numerous occasions the process resulted in rejection of proposed military operations, where, for example, the available intelligence regarding the proposed target was not sufficiently reliable or up-to-date, or where the likelihood of collateral damage to civilians and their property was considered excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 251.
Italy
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Italy declared:
In relation to Articles 51 to 58 inclusive, the Italian Government understands 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 available to them at the relevant time. 
Italy, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 27 February 1986, § 5.
Netherlands
At the CDDH, the Netherlands stated:
Commanders and others responsible for planning, deciding upon or executing attacks necessarily had to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which was available to them at the relevant time. 
Netherlands, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 205, § 1.
Netherlands
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Netherlands declared with regard to Articles 51 to 58 inclusive:
It is the understanding of the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands 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 available to them at the relevant time. 
Netherlands, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 26 June 1987, § 6.
New Zealand
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. 
New Zealand, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 8 February 1988, § 2.
Spain
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Spain declared with regard to Articles 51 to 58 inclusive:
It is the understanding [of the Spanish Government] that the decision made by military commanders, or others with the legal capacity to plan or execute attacks which may have repercussions on civilians or civilian objects or similar objects, shall not necessarily be based on anything more than the relevant information available at the relevant time and which it has been possible to obtain to that effect. 
Spain, Interpretative declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 21 April 1989, § 5.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
At the CDDH, the United Kingdom stated:
Military commanders and others responsible for planning, initiating or executing attacks necessarily had to reach decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information from all sources which was available to them at the relevant time. 
United Kingdom, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.41, 26 May 1977, p. 164, § 121.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Upon signing the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the United Kingdom stated:
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 available to them at the relevant time. 
United Kingdom, Declarations made upon signature of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 12 December 1977, § d.
The United Kingdom repeated this statement upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
United Kingdom, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 28 January 1998, § c.
United States of America
In 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defense stated:
In reviewing an incident such as the attack of the Al-’Amariyah bunker, the law of war recognizes the difficulty of decision making amid the confusion of war. Leaders and commanders necessarily have to make decisions on the basis of their assessment of the information reasonably available to them at the time, rather than what is determined in hindsight. 
United States, Department of Defense, Final Report to Congress on the Conduct of the Persian Gulf War, 10 April 1992, Appendix O, The Role of the Law of War, ILM, Vol. 31, 1992, p. 626.
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Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
In its final report to the ICTY Prosecutor in 2000, the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia stated:
A military commander must set up an effective intelligence gathering system to collect and evaluate information concerning potential targets. The commander must also direct his forces to use available technical means to properly identify targets during operations. 
ICTY, Final Report to the Prosecutor by the Committee Established to Review the NATO Bombing Campaign Against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, The Hague, 14 June 2000, § 29.
ICRC
To fulfil its task of disseminating IHL, the ICRC has delegates around the world teaching armed and security forces that:
To fulfil his mission, the commander needs appropriate information about the enemy and the environment.
To comply with the law of war, information must include:
a) concentrations of civilian persons;
b) civilian surroundings of military objectives;
c) nature of built up areas (towns, villages, shelters, etc.);
d) existence and nature of important civilian objects, particularly of specifically protected objects;
e) natural environment. 
Frédéric de Mulinen, Handbook on the Law of War for Armed Forces, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 436; see also § 459.
Amnesty International
In its report on the NATO bombings in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia issued in 2000, Amnesty International, after commenting on the lack of precautions taken by NATO, concluded that “the apparent preeminence given by NATO to intelligence in the planning phase rather than throughout the conduct of an attack, and serious mistakes in intelligence gathering, seem to have led to unlawful deaths”. 
Amnesty International, NATO/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia: “Collateral Damage” or Unlawful Killings? Violations of the Laws of War by NATO during Operation Allied Force, AI Index EUR 70/18/00, London, June 2000, p. 26.