Practice Relating to Rule 8. Definition of Military Objectives
Section I. Presence of civilians within or near military objectives
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) considers that:
Civilians who are inside or in the immediate vicinity of military objectives run the risks to which the military objectives are exposed. For example, the presence of civilian workers inside a weapons factory does not prevent the enemy from attacking this military objective.
Switzerland’s Regulation on Legal Bases for Conduct during an Engagement (2005) explains with respect to the example of a “[m]ortar site, two civilian women are supplying beverages” that, in application of the principles of distinction and proportionality, the “mortar site can be attacked as a military objective: collateral damage”.
With respect to the example of a “[c]onvoy of refugees intermingled with some combatants”, the Regulation explains that, in application of the principle of proportionality, “[t]he concrete military advantage is not in an acceptable proportion”.
With respect to the example of a “[b]attle tank accommodating wounded persons”, the Regulation further explains that, in application of the principle of military necessity, the tank is “not a protected object. Military objective, collateral damage”.
The Regulation also states that civilians “are especially protected by the law of armed conflict, insofar as they do not participate in combat and are not in the immediate proximity of military objectives”.