United States of America
Practice Relating to Rule 8. Definition of Military Objectives
The US Naval Handbook (1995) states: “Proper naval targets also include geographic targets, such as a mountain pass.”
The US Naval Handbook (2007) states: “Proper objects of attack include, but are not limited to, such military objectives as … geographic features, such as a mountain pass”.
At the CDDH, the United States expressed its understanding that:
A specific area of land may be a military objective if, because of its location or other reasons specified in Article 47 [now Article 52 of the 1977 Additional Protocol I], its total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.
In 1992, in a review of the legality of extended range anti-armour munition, the US Department of the Air Force stated:
An area of land can be a military objective if by its nature, location, purpose or use it makes an effective contribution to military action and its total or partial destruction, denial, capture or neutralization offers a definite military advantage, in the circumstances ruling at the time. Most areas which would be mined in war would meet this definition.
The Report on US Practice states:
The opinio juris
of the U.S. government recognizes the definition of military objectives in Article 52 of Additional Protocol I as customary law. United States practice gives a broad reading to this definition, and would include areas of land … as military objectives.
Upon acceptance of the 1996 Amended Protocol II to the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the United States stated:
The United States understands that an area of land itself can be a legitimate military objective for the purpose of the use of landmines, if its neutralization or denial, in the circumstances applicable at the time, offers a military advantage.