Practice Relating to Rule 22. The Principle of Precautions against the Effects of Attacks

Note: Practice concerning the duty to take feasible precautions to spare the civilian population and to avoid injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects – which could apply to operations in offence and/or defence – has been included in Chapter 5 (Precautions in Attack) and is not repeated here. This section contains practice on specific precautions against the effects of attacks not mentioned in Rules 23 and 24, as well as practice referring to such precautions in general without further specification. Although some practice on civil defence has been included, this subject is not dealt with exhaustively.
Additional Protocol I
Article 58(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I states that the parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible, “take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations”. 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 58(c). Article 58 was adopted by 80 votes in favour, none against and 8 abstentions. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 214.
Additional Protocol II
Article 13(1) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II provides: “The civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations.” 
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II), Geneva, 8 June 1977, Article 13(1). Article 13 was adopted by consensus. CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VII, CDDH/SR.52, 6 June 1977, p. 134.
Additional Protocol II (draft)
Article 24(2) of the draft Additional Protocol II submitted by the ICRC to the CDDH provided that “constant care shall be taken, when conducting military operations, to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects”. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. I, Part Three, Draft Additional Protocols, June 1973, p. 40.
This provision was adopted in Committee III of the CDDH by 50 votes in favour, none against and 11 abstentions. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. XIV, CDDH/III/SR.37, 4 April 1975, p. 390, § 13.
Eventually, however, it was deleted in the plenary, because it failed to obtain the necessary two-thirds majority (36 in favour, 19 against and 36 abstentions). 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VII, CDDH/SR.52, 6 June 1977, p. 135.
New Delhi Draft Rules
Article 11 of the 1956 New Delhi Draft Rules states: “The Parties to the conflict shall, so far as possible, take all necessary steps to protect the civilian population subject to their authority from the dangers to which they would be exposed in attack.” 
Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers Incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War, drafted by the International Committee of the Red Cross, September 1956, submitted to governments for their consideration on behalf of the 19th International Conference of the Red Cross, New Delhi, 28 October–7 November, Res. XIII, Article 11.
Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia
Paragraph 6 of the 1991 Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia requires that hostilities be conducted in accordance with Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of International Humanitarian Law between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Geneva, 27 November 1991, § 6.
Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Paragraph 2.5 of the 1992 Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina requires that hostilities be conducted in accordance with Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Agreement between Representatives of Mr. Alija Izetbegović (President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Party of Democratic Action), Representatives of Mr. Radovan Karadžić (President of the Serbian Democratic Party), and Representative of Mr. Miljenko Brkić (President of the Croatian Democratic Community), Geneva, 22 May 1992, § 2.5.
CSCE Code of Conduct
Paragraph 36 of the 1994 CSCE Code of Conduct states: “The armed forces will take due care to avoid injury to civilians or their property.” 
The Code of Conduct on Politico-Military Aspects of Security, adopted at the 91st Plenary Meeting of the Special Committee of the CSCE Forum for Security Co-operation, Budapest, 3 December 1994, incorporated as Decision IV in the CSCE Budapest Document, Towards a Genuine Partnership in a New Era, Doc. RC/1/95, corrected version of 21 December 1994, § 36.
UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin
Section 5.4 of the 1999 UN Secretary-General’s Bulletin states: “In its area of operation, the United Nations force shall … take all necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects against the dangers resulting from military operations.” 
Observance by United Nations Forces of International Humanitarian Law, Secretary-General’s Bulletin, UN Secretariat, UN Doc. ST/SGB/1999/13, 6 August 1999, Section 5.4.
Argentina
Argentina’s Law of War Manual (1989) states:
The parties to the conflict shall, to the extent possible, take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
Argentina, Leyes de Guerra, PC-08-01, Público, Edición 1989, Estado Mayor Conjunto de las Fuerzas Armadas, aprobado por Resolución No. 489/89 del Ministerio de Defensa, 23 April 1990, § 4.07(2).
Belgium
The Report on the Practice of Belgium states:
No practice was found concerning the protection of the civilian population against the effects of attacks in the Belgian military regulations” and refers to two internal regulations that “reveal a lack of concern for this issue. 
Report on the Practice of Belgium, 1997, Chapter 1.7, referring to Règlement sur le Peloton Antichar Striker, Règlement G 294, Ministère de la Défense Nationale, Etat-Major Général, Force Terrestre, Ecole des Troupes Blindées, 1986 and Le Peloton de Voltigeurs, Règlement G 293, Ministère de la Défense Nationale, Etat-Major Général, Force Terrestre, Ecole des Troupes Blindées, 1991.
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (1992) provides: “In all military operations, whether in offence or defence, … areas of civilian habitation, civilian populations [and] … civilian objects must be protected.” 
Cameroon, Droit international humanitaire et droit de la guerre, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les Forces Armées, Présidence de la République, Ministère de la Défense, Etat-major des Armées, Troisième Division, Edition 1992, p. 150, § 532(2).
Cameroon
Cameroon’s Instructor’s Manual (2006) states:
Civilian Victims of Armed Conflicts
2) Protection
In all cases:
- civilian areas must be protected;
- populations must be protected. 
Cameroon, Droit des conflits armés et droit international humanitaire, Manuel de l’instructeur en vigueur dans les forces de défense, Ministère de la Défense, Présidence de la République, Etat-major des Armées, 2006, p. 60, § 252.
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) states:
To protect civilians, the parties to a conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible … take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Level, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 1999, p. 4-4, § 30(c).
Canada
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on targeting:
To protect civilians, the parties to a conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible:
c. take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
Canada, The Law of Armed Conflict at the Operational and Tactical Levels, Office of the Judge Advocate General, 13 August 2001, § 421.1.c.
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):
Precautions must be taken with respect to on-going military operations … Precautions must be taken as soon as, and provided that, the mission permits it ( … victims are searched and cared for in a combat area by medical personnel, etc.). 
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, § 2.2.
Côte d’Ivoire
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book IV (Instruction of heads of division and company commanders):
II.3.3. Obligation to protect civilians against the effects of attacks
In order to protect civilians, the Parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible:
- take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
Côte d’Ivoire, Droit de la guerre, Manuel d’instruction, Livre IV: Instruction du chef de section et du commandant de compagnie, Manuel de l’élève, Ministère de la Défense, Forces Armées Nationales, November 2007, p. 29.
Croatia
Croatia’s Commanders’ Manual (1992) states:
To restrict civilian casualties and damage, the means of combat and weapons shall be adapted to the environment of the defence position … When the mission permits, appropriate information and warning shall be given of defence measures endangering civilian persons, so that they can behave accordingly in the event of combat action. 
Croatia, Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflicts – Commanders’ Manual, Republic of Croatia, Ministry of Defence, 1992, §§ 58 and 61.
Germany
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) states: “Civil defence tasks are particularly warning … construction of shelters, and other measures to restore and maintain order.” 
Germany, Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts – Manual, DSK VV207320067, edited by The Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany, VR II 3, August 1992, English translation of ZDv 15/2, Humanitäres Völkerrecht in bewaffneten Konflikten – Handbuch, August 1992, § 520.
Israel
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states: “It must be ensured that the results of the use of weapons are confined to the battlefield and the combatants thereon, and are not dispersed uncontrollably over surrounding areas.” 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 13.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
Italy
Italy’s LOAC Elementary Rules Manual (1991) states:
To restrict civilian casualties and damage, the means of combat and weapons shall be adapted to the environment of the defence position … When the mission permits, appropriate information and warning shall be given of defence measures endangering civilian persons, so that they can behave accordingly in the event of combat action. 
Italy, Regole elementari di diritto di guerra, SMD-G-012, Stato Maggiore della Difesa, I Reparto, Ufficio Addestramento e Regolamenti, Rome, 1991, § 61.
Kenya
Kenya’s LOAC Manual (1997) states: “When the tactical situations permits, defence measures which may affect civilian persons shall be announced by effective advance warning.” 
Kenya, Law of Armed Conflict, Military Basic Course (ORS), 4 Précis, The School of Military Police, 1997, Précis No. 4, p. 9.
Madagascar
Madagascar’s Military Manual (1994) provides that in the conduct of all military operations, “constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, as well as civilian objects”. 
Madagascar, Le Droit des Conflits Armés, Ministère des Forces Armées, August 1994, Fiche No. 6-O, § 11.
The manual further specifies that:
In order to limit civilian casualties and damage, the means of combat and weapons shall be adapted to the environment of the defence position … When the mission permits, information and effective warning must be given concerning defence measures which expose civilians to danger so that they can behave correctly during combat action. 
Madagascar, Le Droit des Conflits Armés, Ministère des Forces Armées, August 1994, Fiche No. 6-O, §§ 32 and 35.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that the parties to the conflict shall
endeavour to take other precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects against the dangers resulting from military operations … Such other precautions include, for example, the construction of shelter facilities and the mobilization of civil defence organizations. 
Netherlands, Toepassing Humanitair Oorlogsrecht, Voorschift No. 27-412/1, Koninklijke Landmacht, Ministerie van Defensie, 1993, p. V-12, § 10.
Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
0541. A distinction must be made between precautions when attacking and precautions against the consequences of attacks (therefore “attacks” mean combat actions as a whole). In general, the rule is that, when carrying out military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects.
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 endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects from the vicinity of military objectives;
- to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas;
- and to take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.
0550. Separating the locations of civilian population/objects and military objectives is an obvious step to protect the population, but one that may run into serious difficulties in densely populated areas … Examples of other precautionary measures might be creating shelter facilities and allowing civil defence organizations to operate. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 0541 and 0549–0550.
[emphasis in original]
In its chapter on the protection of the wounded and sick, the manual states: “The parties to a conflict must ensure that the medical units are located, as far as possible, in places where attacks on military objectives do not imperil their safety.” 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0620.
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
1045. Participants in an internal armed conflict should also take all possible measures to protect the civilian population against the consequences of attack.
1046. The above means that participants must ask themselves where they may and may not position fighters or equipment. They should make sure that they are not attacking civilians or civilian objects, but military objectives. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, §§ 1045–1046.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
Persons who are not, or have ceased to be, participants in fighting or hostilities should be protected and treated without any form of discrimination. They and their property should always be respected, especially while operations are in progress. 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 1228.
New Zealand
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states:
The Parties to the conflict shall, to the maximum extent feasible, … take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
New Zealand, Interim Law of Armed Conflict Manual, DM 112, New Zealand Defence Force, Headquarters, Directorate of Legal Services, Wellington, November 1992, § 519(1)(c).
Nigeria
Nigeria’s Military Manual (1994) states: “Similar to attack is the fact that defence measures which may affect civilian persons shall be announced in advance.” 
Nigeria, International Humanitarian Law (IHL), Directorate of Legal Services, Nigerian Army, 1994, p. 44, § 15.
Peru
Peru’s IHL Manual (2004) states: “Defending forces must minimize civilian casualties to the maximum extent feasible by … taking [all] necessary precautions to protect the civilian population from the dangers of military operations.” 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial Nº 1394-2004-DE/CCFFAA/CDIH-FFAA, Lima, 1 December 2004, § 30.
Peru
Peru’s IHL and Human Rights Manual (2010) states: “Defending forces must minimize civilian casualties to the maximum extent feasible by … taking the necessary precautions to protect the civilian population from the dangers of military operations.” 
Peru, Manual de Derecho Internacional Humanitario y Derechos Humanos para las Fuerzas Armadas, Resolución Ministerial No. 049-2010/DE/VPD, Lima, 21 May 2010, § 31, p. 245.
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) requires that commanders, in peacetime, “envisage all possible measures to protect the civilian population”. 
Russian Federation, Instructions on the Application of the Rules of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the USSR, Appendix to Order of the USSR Defence Minister No. 75, 1990, § 14(a).
Russian Federation
The Russian Federation’s Regulations on the Application of IHL (2001) states: “To the greatest possible extent … precautions shall be taken to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects against the effects of combat operations.” 
Russian Federation, Regulations on the Application of International Humanitarian Law by the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, Moscow, 8 August 2001, § 54.
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) requires that “all necessary precautions be taken in order to protect civilians and civilian objects from the effects of attacks”. 
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, § 4.5.a.(2).
Spain
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states: “To the extent possible … precautionary measures must be taken to protect civilians and civilian property from the effects of attacks”. 
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, § 4.5.a.(2); see also § 2.4.c.(6).
Sweden
Sweden’s IHL Manual (1991) refers to the obligation enshrined in Article 58(c) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to “take other precautionary measures for protecting the civilian population, civilian persons and civilian property”. It notes that: “These can include a number of different measures such as the erection of shelters, distribution of information and warnings, direction of traffic, guarding of civilian property and so on.” 
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, p. 74.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) specifies that: “To the extent possible, that is, as far as the interests of Swiss national defence allow, … other measures of protection of the civilian population must be taken.” 
Switzerland, Lois et coutumes de la guerre (Extrait et commentaire), Règlement 51.7/II f, Armée Suisse, 1987, Article 29(3).
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) states:
165 The following precautionary measures must be taken into consideration when making decisions, when issuing orders and in particular when conducting military operations.
170 Anyone who acts in defence:
3 must take all other necessary precautions to protect civilians and civilian objects against the danger of the hostilities. 
Switzerland, Bases légales du comportement à l’engagement (BCE), Règlement 51.007/IVf, Swiss Army, issued based on Article 10 of the Ordinance on the Organization of the Federal Department for Defence, Civil Protection and Sports of 7 March 2003, entry into force on 1 July 2005, §§ 165 and 170(3). The German language version notes in § 170(3): “must take other necessary [“weitere notwendige”] precautions to protect civilians and also [“auch”] civilian objects against the dangers of military operations [“Kriegshandlungen”]”.
[emphasis in original]
Tajikistan
Tajikistan’s Manual of Internal Service of the Armed Forces (2001) states: “In the application and use of weapons the military serviceman is obliged to take all possible precautionary measures to ensure the security of the citizens around.” 
Tajikistan, Manual of Internal Service of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Tajikistan, endorsed by the Decree of the Majlisi Namoyandagon of Majlisi Oli [Parliament] of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 273 of 4 April 2001 and promulgated by the Order of the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Tajikistan No. 3 of 2 May 2001, § 12.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
The UK LOAC Manual (2004) states:
Parties to a conflict are required, to the maximum extent feasible, to:
c. take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, § 5.36.
In its chapter on internal armed conflict, the manual states:
15.24. Military commanders and the civilian authorities should do everything that they feasibly can do to protect civilians and civilian objects in their area of control from the effects of war.
15.24.1. Nothing is laid down in customary law or in the treaties dealing with internal armed conflicts about precautions in defence. This is a matter of common humanity. The use of human shields is prohibited. 
United Kingdom, The Manual of the Law of Armed Conflict, Ministry of Defence, 1 July 2004, §§ 15.24–15.24.1.
United States of America
The US Air Force Pamphlet (1976) states:
As a corollary to the principle of general civilian immunity, the parties to a conflict should, to the maximum extent feasible, take necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians, and civilian objects under their authority against the dangers resulting from military operations. 
United States, Air Force Pamphlet 110-31, International Law – The Conduct of Armed Conflict and Air Operations, US Department of the Air Force, 1976, § 5-4(a).
China
China’s Civil Air Defence Law (1996) states:
Article 2. Civil air defense is a component part of national defense. In light of the need of national defense, the State mobilizes and organizes the masses to take protective measures for preventing or minimizing damage caused by air raid.
Article 8. All organizations and individuals shall have the right of being protected by civil air defense and must perform their duties in civil air defense according to law.
Article 18. Civil air defense works include underground protective structures that are constructed particularly for sheltering people and goods and materials, civil air defense command and medical aid in time of war, and basements that are constructed in combination with the surface buildings and that can be used for air defense in time of war.
Article 29. The State ensures unimpeded civil air defense communications and warning in order that air defense warning signals are promptly and accurately transmitted and sent out and civil air defense is effectively organized and directed.
Article 37. Civil air defense evacuation shall be directed in a unified manner by the people’s governments at or above the county level.
Civil air defense evacuation must be carried out in accordance with the order issued by the State. No organization may go into action without such order.
Article 45. The State develops civil air defense education to help citizens enhance their awareness of the importance of national defense and acquire the basic knowledge and skills of civil air defense. 
China, Civil Air Defence Law, 1996, Articles 2, 8, 18, 29, 37 and 45.
Denmark
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (1973), as amended in 1978, provides:
Any person who uses war instruments or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or the general rules of international law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. a fine, lenient imprisonment or up to 12 years’ imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 1973, as amended in 1978, § 25(1).
Denmark’s Military Criminal Code (2005) provides:
Any person who deliberately uses war means [“krigsmiddel”] or procedures the application of which violates an international agreement entered into by Denmark or international customary law, shall be liable to the same penalty [i.e. imprisonment up to life imprisonment]. 
Denmark, Military Criminal Code, 2005, § 36(2).
Ireland
Ireland’s Geneva Conventions Act (1962), as amended in 1998, provides that any “minor breach” of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, including violations of Article 58(c), as well as any “contravention” of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, including violations of Article 13(1), are punishable offences. 
Ireland, Geneva Conventions Act, 1962, as amended in 1998, Section 4(1) and (4).
Kuwait
According to the Report on the Practice of Kuwait (1997), great attention has been paid to the issue of precautions in Kuwait after the invasion by Iraq and this task has been given to the civil defence authorities. The report notes that, pursuant to Kuwait’s Civil Defence Decree (1979), this task includes the following measures: alerting the civilian population in case of aerial bombardment, preparation of public shelters and preparation and execution of evacuation plans. 
Report on the Practice of Kuwait, 1997, Chapter 1.6 and 1.7, referring to Civil Defence Decree, 1979, Article 2.
Norway
Norway’s Military Penal Code (1902), as amended in 1981, provides:
Anyone who contravenes or is accessory to the contravention of provisions relating to the protection of persons or property laid down in … the two additional protocols to [the 1949 Geneva] Conventions … is liable to imprisonment. 
Norway, Military Penal Code, 1902, as amended in 1981, § 108(b).
Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan’s Law on Civil Defence (2000) states: “Citizens have the right … for the protection of their life, health and property from consequences of military operations.” 
Uzbekistan, Law on Civil Defence, 2000, Article 10.
Colombia
In 2007, in the Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, the Plenary Chamber of Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated:
[T]he essential principles of international humanitarian law have acquired ius cogens status, based on the fact that the international community as a whole has recognised their peremptory and imperative nature … Among the essential principles of international humanitarian law with ius cogens status applicable in internal armed conflicts … [is] the precautionary principle. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 70.
The Court further held:
The precautionary principle is the cornerstone of a number of specific rules which are considered to have attained customary status and to be applicable in internal armed conflicts … Among these rules is … the obligation of the parties to a conflict … to protect the civilian population against the effects of attacks. 
Colombia, Constitutional Court, Constitutional Case No. C-291/07, Judgment of 25 April 2007, p. 99.
[footnote in original omitted]
Algeria
The Report on the Practice of Algeria states that, owing to the particular nature of the Algerian war of independence, no precise information could be found regarding the behaviour of Algerian combatants with respect to precautions against the effects of attacks. The report testifies, however, to their willingness to protect the civilian population “against the effects of attacks by the colonial army”. 
Report on the Practice of Algeria, 1997, Chapter 1.7, referring to El Moudjahid, Vol. 1, p. 89.
China
In 2004, in a white paper entitled “China’s National Defense in 2004”, China stated:
As an important part of the national defense and an important aspect of the economic and social development, China’s civil air defense (CAD) refers to measures and actions to mobilize and organize the Chinese people to be prepared against enemy air raids and disastrous events, and to deal with the aftermath of enemy air raids and disastrous events. Resorting to preventive means such as camouflage, cover and evacuation, and adopting measures such as emergency rescue and rush-repair, the CAD serves the purpose of securing the people’s lives and property, reducing losses of national economy and preserving the war potentials. The CAD is built and managed strictly in accordance with the Civil Air Defense Law of the PRC [People’s Republic of China]. The CAD adopts a system of joint leadership by the people’s governments and the military organs with the local people’s governments and the military organs at the county level and above exercising leadership over the CAD work within their respective administrative areas. The basic task of the CAD is to organize the people in CAD building in peacetime and to organize and direct people to fight against air raids in wartime. 
China, White Paper of the Government of the People’s Republic of China: China’s National Defense in 2004, December 2004.
Germany
The Report on the Practice of Germany states that the precautions required against the effects of attacks have to be taken mainly by the civil defence. It quotes a representative of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, who said at an ICRC expert meeting in Geneva that Germany had an integrated system of assistance to cover both peacetime disaster control and civil defence in case of armed conflict. 
Report on the Practice of Germany, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
Indonesia
The Report on the Practice of Indonesia states that members of the Indonesian armed forces should take all necessary precautions to protect the civilian population and civilian objects against the dangers resulting from hostilities.  
Report on the Practice of Indonesia, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
Iraq
On the basis of the reply by Iraq’s Ministry of Defence to a questionnaire, the Report on the Practice of Iraq cites the following examples of precautionary measures taken in Iraqi territory: providing civilians with devices for their protection from the consequences of certain weapons; early warning of the civilian population of imminent enemy military operations; and identification of civilian objects and antiquities. 
Report on the Practice of Iraq, 1998, Reply by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence to a questionnaire, July 1997, Chapter 1.7.
Islamic Republic of Iran
The Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran notes that, following the escalation of the “war of the cities” during the Iran–Iraq War, “serious measures were adopted by the authorities to protect the civilians”, including: construction of shelters in public places; educating civilians through mass media about the precautions they should take during bombardments; the establishment of facilities for the civilians who fled the cities under attack; and the formation of units to deal with the effects of attacks with weapons of mass destruction on cities. 
Report on the Practice of the Islamic Republic of Iran, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
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:
The parties in control of the territory where the hostilities take place also have obligations under the Law of Armed Conflict to minimise civilian harm, including with regard to their own population. Thus, the parties to the conflict “shall, to the maximum extent feasible, take the other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.” [1977 Additional Protocol I, Article 58(c)]. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 139.
[footnote in original omitted]
Kuwait
The Report on the Practice of Kuwait states that it is the opinio juris of Kuwait that “all States have a duty to adopt measures to eliminate/minimise the effects of war in order to protect humanity”, including exceptional measures to protect civilians and to ensure the continuity of public services during the exceptional situation of war. 
Report on the Practice of Kuwait, 1997, Chapter 1.6 and 1.7.
Malaysia
The Report on the Practice of Malaysia notes that the security forces act in conformity with international norms on protecting the civilian population against the dangers resulting from security operations, whether in an international or non-international armed conflict. 
Report on the Practice of Malaysia, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
Nigeria
According to the Report on the Practice of Nigeria, although no practice exists regarding precautions against the effects of attacks, the duty to take such precautions is a part of customary international law. 
Report on the Practice of Nigeria, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
Russian Federation
In 2008, in a statement before the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated:
The protection of civilians must be the highest priority for Governments involved in conflicts. We emphasize that all parties to armed conflict bear responsibility for ensuring the security of civilians.
The United Nations must rapidly and effectively respond to incidents of violence against civilians and to the destruction of civilian facilities during armed conflict. 
Russian Federation, Statement by the permanent representative of the Russian Federation at a UN Security Council meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, 5898th meeting, 27 May 2008.
Rwanda
According to the Report on the Practice of Rwanda, it is the opinio juris of Rwanda that precautions must be taken to protect civilians against the effects of attacks. 
Report on the Practice of Rwanda, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
I would like to begin my remarks on a note of optimism. Significant progress has indeed been made in the evolution of international norms since the genocide in my country 19 years ago. Normative progress is slow, built year by year and resolution by resolution, almost imperceptibly. It can sometimes seem like we are just repeating ourselves, but the cumulative effect is dramatic. Each year, the consensus grows stronger that the protection of civilians and the prevention of crimes, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity are a fundamental duty of each State, as well as a legitimate and necessary focus of collective action in the international system. 
Rwanda, Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Rwanda before the UN Security Council during a meeting on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, UN Doc. S/PV.6917, 12 February 2013, p. 9.
Somalia
In 2011, in its report to the Human Rights Council, Somalia stated: “The Government forces are also bound to respect customary IHL rules relating to the prohibited methods and means of warfare including … precautions against the effects of attacks”. 
Somalia, Report to the Human Rights Council, 11 April 2011, UN Doc. A/HRC/WG.6/11/SOM/1, § 76.
Switzerland
In 2009, in a statement before the UN Security Council during an open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, the permanent representative of Switzerland stated:
The current situation in Gaza cries out to us the importance of the issue we are discussing today. The main victims of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are civilians. Switzerland is deeply shocked by the very high number of civilians that have been killed or wounded in this conflict, and in particular the high number of child victims. …
Switzerland therefore reiterates its call for … strict compliance with international law by all parties to the conflict. This includes in particular the obligation to respect the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution. 
Switzerland, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland before the UN Security Council on the protection of civilians in armed conflict, 14 January 2009, p. 5.
Switzerland
In 2012, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs issued a press release entitled “Official visit by the Palestinian President”, which stated:
During the meeting, the Head of the FDFA [Federal Department of Foreign Affairs] expressed his deep concern at the escalation of violence throughout the region. It is crucial that all measures of precaution be taken so as to spare the civilian population from the effects of the hostilities being conducted in one of the most densely populated zones in the world. 
Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, “Official visit by the Palestinian President”, Press Release, 15 November 2012.
Switzerland
In 2013, in a statement at the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the permanent representative of Switzerland stated:
The community of States cannot remain indifferent to the human suffering caused by armed conflicts. It was in direct response to this fundamental concern that the CCW [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] and its protocols were adopted, with a view to prohibiting or limiting the use of certain specific types of weapons known to inflict superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, or to strike indiscriminately.
In this regard, Switzerland is deeply concerned by the alleged use of weapons in Syria falling within the ambit of the CCW and its respective protocols, such as the alleged use of anti-personnel mines as well as the alleged use of incendiary weapons in populated areas causing severe human suffering. We call upon all parties to the conflict to comply with their obligations under international law, in particular the principles of distinction, precaution, and proportionality. 
Switzerland, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland at the Meeting of the High Contracting Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, 14 November 2013.
Syrian Arab Republic
The Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic asserts that the Syrian Arab Republic considers Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I to be part of customary international law. 
Report on the Practice of the Syrian Arab Republic, 1997, Chapter 1.7.
United States of America
In 1993, in its report to Congress on the protection of natural and cultural resources during times of war, the US Department of Defense stated: “The obligation to take reasonable measures to minimize damage to natural resources and cultural property is shared by both an attacker and a defender … The defender has certain responsibilities as well.” 
United States, Department of Defense, Report to Congress on International Policies and Procedures Regarding the Protection of Natural and Cultural Resources During Times of War, 19 January 1993, p. 203.
Zimbabwe
The Report on the Practice of Zimbabwe states that the provisions of Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I would be regarded as customary by Zimbabwe because of its adoption of the Geneva Conventions Amendment Act which incorporates the 1977 Additional Protocol I into Zimbabwe’s law and practice.  
Report on the Practice of Zimbabwe, 1998, Chapter 1.7.
UN General Assembly
General Assembly Resolution 2444 (XXIII), adopted in 1968, affirmed Resolution XXVIII of the 20th International Conference of the Red Cross and the basic humanitarian principle applicable in all armed conflicts laid down therein that “distinction must be made at all times between persons taking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian population to the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 2444 (XXIII), 19 December 1968, § 1(c), voting record: 111-0-0-15.
UN General Assembly
General Assembly Resolution 2675 (XXV), adopted in 1970, states: “In the conduct of military operations, every effort should be made to spare civilian populations from the ravages of war, and all necessary precautions should be taken to avoid injury, loss or damage to civilian populations.” 
UN General Assembly, Res. 2675 (XXV), 9 December 1970, § 3, voting record: 109-0-8-10.
No data.
International Conference of the Red Cross (1965)
The 20th International Conference of the Red Cross in 1965 adopted a resolution on the protection of civilian populations against the dangers of indiscriminate warfare, in which it solemnly declared:
All Governments and other authorities responsible for action in armed conflicts should conform at least to the following principles: … that distinction must be made at all times between persons taking part in the hostilities and members of the civilian population to the effect that the latter be spared as much as possible. 
20th International Conference of the Red Cross, Vienna, 2–9 October 1965, Res. XXVIII.
International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
In its judgment in the Kupreškić case in 2000, the ICTY Trial Chamber noted that Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I was now part of customary international law, not only because it specified and fleshed out general pre-existing norms, but also because it did not appear to be contested by any State, including those who had not ratified the Protocol. 
ICTY, Kupreškić case, Judgment, 14 January 2000, § 524.
With reference to the Martens Clause, the Trial Chamber held:
The prescriptions of … [Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] (and of the corresponding customary rules) must be interpreted so as to construe as narrowly as possible the discretionary power to attack belligerents and, by the same token, so as to expand the protection accorded to civilians. 
ICTY, Kupreškić case, Judgment, 14 January 2000, § 525.
No data.
Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A)
According to the Report on SPLM/A Practice, the SPLM/A instructed the civilian population to dig trenches and shelters against aerial bombardments by the Government of Sudan. 
Report on SPLM/A Practice, 1998, Chapter 1.7.
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Netherlands
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Separating the locations of civilian population/objects and military objectives is an obvious step to protect the population, but one that may run into serious difficulties in densely populated areas.” 
Netherlands, Humanitair Oorlogsrecht: Handleiding, Voorschift No. 27-412, Koninklijke Landmacht, Militair Juridische Dienst, 2005, § 0550.
Switzerland
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) specifies that precautions against the effects of attacks should be taken in order to protect civilians “to the extent possible, that is, as far as the interests of national defence allow”. 
Switzerland, Lois et coutumes de la guerre (Extrait et commentaire), Règlement 51.7/II f, Armée Suisse, 1987, Article 29(3).
The manual later states: “In case of doubt, the constraints of national defence prevail.” 
Switzerland, Lois et coutumes de la guerre (Extrait et commentaire), Règlement 51.7/II f, Armée Suisse, 1987, Article 151(3).
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Algeria
Upon accession to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Algeria stated that the term “feasible” must be interpreted as referring to “precautions and measures which are feasible in view of the circumstances and the information and means available at the time”. 
Algeria, Interpretative declarations made upon accession to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 16 August 1989, § 1.
Austria
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Austria stated: “In view of the fact that Article 58 of Protocol I contains the expression ‘to the maximum extent feasible’, sub-paragraphs (a) and (b) will be applied subject to the requirements of national defence.” 
Austria, Reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 13 August 1982.
Belgium
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Belgium declared:
In view of the travaux préparatoires … “feasible precautions” [are] those that can be taken in the circumstances prevailing at the moment, which include military considerations as much as humanitarian ones. 
Belgium, Interpretative declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 20 May 1986, § 3.
Cameroon
At the CDDH, Cameroon considered that the obligations under Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I “are not absolute, since they are to be fulfilled only ‘to the maximum extent feasible’, for no one is obliged to do the impossible”. 
Cameroon, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 239.
Canada
At the CDDH, Canada stated that the word “feasible” when used in the 1977 Additional Protocol I, for example, in Articles 57 and 58, “refers to what is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances existing at the relevant time, including those circumstances relevant to the success of military operations”. 
Canada, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 224.
Canada
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Canada stated: “The word ‘feasible’ means that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.”  
Canada, Reservations and statements of understanding made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 20 November 1990, § 5.
France
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, France stated that it considered that the term “feasible” as used in the Protocol meant “that which can be realized or which is possible in practice, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations”. 
France, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 11 April 2001, § 3.
Germany, Federal Republic of
At the CDDH, the Federal Republic of Germany stated that its understanding of the word “feasible” in Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I was that it referred to “that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time, including those relevant to the success of military operations”. 
Germany, Federal Republic of, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 226.
Germany
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Germany stated that it understood the word “feasible” to mean “that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations”. 
Germany, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 14 February 1991, § 2.
Ireland
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Ireland stated: “The word ‘feasible’ means that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.” 
Ireland, Declarations and reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 19 May 1999, § 6.
Italy
At the CDDH, Italy stated:
The words “to the maximum extent feasible” at the beginning of [Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I], however, clearly show the real aim of this rule: this is not a question of absolute obligations, but, on the contrary, of precepts that should be followed if, and to the extent that, the particular circumstances permit. 
Italy, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 232.
Italy
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Italy declared: “The word ‘feasible’ means that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.” 
Italy, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 27 February 1986, § 2.
Netherlands
At the CDDH, the Netherlands stated:
The word “feasible” when used in Protocol I, for example in Articles 50 and 51 [now Articles 57 and 58], should in any particular case be interpreted as referring to that which was practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time”. 
Netherlands, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 214, § 61.
Netherlands
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Netherlands declared: “The word ‘feasible’ is to be understood as practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.” 
Netherlands, Declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 26 June 1987, § 2.
Spain
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Spain interpreted the term “feasible” as meaning that “the matter in question is feasible or possible in practice, taking into account all the circumstances prevailing at the time, including humanitarian and military aspects”. 
Spain, Interpretative declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 21 April 1989, § 3.
Switzerland
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, Switzerland stated:
Considering that [Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I] contains the expression ‘to the maximum extent feasible’, paragraphs (a) and (b) will be applied subject to the defence requirements of the national territory. 
Switzerland, Reservations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 17 February 1982, § 2.
In 2005, Switzerland withdrew its reservations to Articles 57 and 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I. 
Switzerland, Withdrawal of reservations to the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 17 June 2005.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
At the CDDH, the United Kingdom
expressed keen satisfaction at the adoption of [Article 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I], which was designed to lend added strength to the protection already extended to civilian persons and objects of a civilian character by preceding articles. Nevertheless, in an armed conflict such protection could never be absolute; and that was reflected in the article through the expression “to the maximum extent feasible”. According to the interpretation placed upon it by [the United Kingdom], the word “feasible”, wherever it was employed in the Protocol, related to what was workable or practicable, taking into account all the circumstances at a given moment, and especially those which had a bearing on the success of military operations. 
United Kingdom, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 214, §§ 58–59.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Upon signature of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the United Kingdom stated: “The word ‘feasible’ means that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time including those relevant to the success of military operations.” 
United Kingdom, Declarations made upon signature of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 12 December 1977, § b.
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the United Kingdom stated that it understood the term “feasible” as used in the Protocol to mean “that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations”. 
United Kingdom, Reservations and declarations made upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, 28 January 1998, § b.
United States of America
At the CDDH, the United States stated:
The word “feasible” when used in draft Protocol I, for example in Articles 50 and 51 [now Articles 57 and 58], refers to that which is practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time, including those relevant to the success of military operations. 
United States, Statement at the CDDH, Official Records, Vol. VI, CDDH/SR.42, 27 May 1977, p. 241.
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Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts
The Rapporteur of the Working Group at the CDDH reported:
Agreement [on Article 51 of the draft 1977 Additional Protocol I (now Article 59)] was reached fairly quickly on this draft after it was revised to have the phrase “to the maximum extent feasible” modify all subparagraphs. This revision reflected the concern of a number of representatives that small and crowded countries would find it difficult to separate civilians and civilian objects from military objectives. Other representatives pointed out that even large countries would find such separation difficult or impossible to arrange, in many cases. 
CDDH, Official Records, Vol. XV, CDDH/III/264/Rev.1, Report to Committee III on the Work of the Working Group submitted by the Rapporteur, 13 March 1975, p. 353.
No data.
ICRC
To fulfil its task of disseminating IHL, the ICRC has delegates around the world teaching armed and security forces that:
The commander shall take all feasible precautions. “Feasible precautions” are those precautions which are practicable, taking into account the tactical situation (that is all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations). 
Frédéric de Mulinen, Handbook on the Law of War for Armed Forces, ICRC, Geneva, 1987, § 365.
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Note: In general, the practice for Rule 15, Section D, concerning the information required to take decisions on precautions in attack is relevant mutatis mutandis to precautions against the effects of attacks and is not repeated here.