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

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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.
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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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