Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Section B. Attacks against military objectives
Colombia’s Circular on Fundamental Rules of IHL (1992) provides: “Attacks may only be conducted against military objectives.”
Colombia’s Instructors’ Manual (1999) instructs soldiers: “Attack only military objectives.”
Colombia’s Operational Law Manual (2009) states:
4. Rules for the conduct of hostilities
a. Prohibition of indiscriminate attacks and [notion of] protected persons
Article 48 of the  Additional Protocol I to the  Geneva Conventions expressly enshrines the principle of distinction by establishing that “in order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objectives, and accordingly direct their operations only against military objectives”.
From the application of this principle derives a set of rules that on the one hand prohibit attacks against protected persons and objects and on the other hand allow the use of force against persons and objects not protected by IHL, since this principle helps to determine, for example, when a person can be a military objective.
[footnote in original omitted]
The manual also states:
4. Rules of engagement
(i) Definitions for rules of engagement for land combat …
- Targeted use of weapons …
: The use of force must be against the military objective or the lawful target.
Colombia’s Directive No. 10 (2007), whose objective is to prevent the killing of protected persons, states: “Military objectives must be adequately identified and may be attacked.”