Practice Relating to Rule 142. Instruction in International Humanitarian Law within Armed Forces
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) provides: “Combatants … must be made aware of the rules of the law of armed conflicts, which essentially includes the Geneva Conventions and the Hague Conventions.”
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) notes that it “is to be used for the instruction of any military personnel of the French armed forces, in the context of the instruction given in schools”.
France’s Code of Defence (2004), as amended in 2008, states: “Every member of the military shall be trained on the knowledge of and respect for the rules of international law applicable to armed conflicts.”
In a note in 1992, the French Ministry of Defence highlighted its cooperation with the ICRC in the production of an audio-visual document on the 1949 Geneva Conventions intended for distribution among the armed forces.
In a directive issued in 2000 on the dissemination of the law of armed conflict within the armed forces, the French Ministry of Defence stated: “Since … 1991, significant efforts have been made. The fundamental basics of the law of armed conflict figure systematically in the cursus of military education, during both initial training and advanced courses”. The directive also provides that further measures, such as the production of videos and CD-Roms and training at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in San Remo, must be taken in order to reinforce the implementation of IHL within the framework of the armed forces. In the same instrument, the Ministry of Defence, with respect to the LOAC Teaching Note (2000) attached to the directive, asks that it be disseminated within the French armed forces, as widely as possible and down to the most basic level.
In 2008, in its fourth to sixth periodic reports to the Committee against Torture, France stated:
170. With regard to the Committee’s question concerning the implementation of the Convention [against Torture] in territories outside the jurisdiction of the State party where its armed forces are deployed, the Government wishes to provide the following information.
172. Apart from having their attention drawn to this legal framework [on the prohibition of torture, duty to disobey unlawful orders by a superior officer and obligations regarding the treatment of the wounded, ill and shipwrecked], French military personnel awaiting deployment are reminded of these regulations as part of their preparation. They also receive oral instructions in that regard in the theatre of operations ... These regulations are also printed on the military identity card distributed to each soldier on arrival.
France’s LOAC Summary Note (1992) provides: “The commander must ensure that subordinates know their obligations [under IHL] and respect them. He is … responsible for their instruction.”
France’s LOAC Teaching Note (2000) states: “The commander … must ensure that members of the armed forces know their rights, but also their obligations under the law of armed conflicts. As such, he is responsible for their instruction.”
France’s LOAC Manual (2001), referring to respect for IHL, provides: “The commander … must ensure that the members of the armed forces know their rights and discharge the corresponding obligations. As such, he is responsible for their instruction.”