Practice Relating to Rule 24. Removal of Civilians and Civilian Objects from the Vicinity of Military Objectives
Switzerland’s Basic Military Manual (1987) provides: “To the extent possible, that is, as far as the interests of Swiss national defence allow, … civilians close to military objectives will be removed”.
Switzerland’s Aide-Memoire on the Ten Basic Rules of the Law of Armed Conflict (2005) states: “I spare and protect civilians and keep them away from the combat zone.”
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:
1 must endeavour, to the extent possible, to remove civilians and civilian objects from the vicinity of military works and objectives.
[emphasis in original]
In 2005, Switzerland withdrew its reservations to Articles 57 and 58 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I.
In 2013, Switzerland’s Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) issued a press release entitled “Situation in the Syrian city of Al-Kusair – Statement of the FDFA”, which stated:
The FDFA is extremely concerned about the situation in Syria, notably intensified fighting in the city of Kusair.
The civilian population must immediately be allowed to leave the area, …
The FDFA appeals again to all parties to the conflict to respect their obligations under international law and take all measures to protect the civilian population as well as all people who are not involved in the fighting.
In 2013, in a statement before the UN Human Rights Council during an interactive dialogue with the Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in Syria, the representative of Switzerland stated: “The parties [to the conflict] must do everything in their power to protect the civilian population, inter alia
by giving civilians the opportunity to flee the zones of combat.”