Practice Relating to Rule 22. The Principle of Precautions against the Effects of Attacks
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that the parties to the conflict shall
endeavour to take other precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects against the dangers resulting from military operations … Such other precautions include, for example, the construction of shelter facilities and the mobilization of civil defence organizations.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
0541. A distinction must be made between precautions when attacking and precautions against the consequences of attacks (therefore “attacks” mean combat actions as a whole). In general, the rule is that, when carrying out military operations, constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects.
Section 8 - Precautions against (effects of) attacks
0549. Precautions when attacking
This is about the measures which a party to an armed conflict must take against the consequences of attacks on military objectives in the area under its control.
The precautions are as follows:
- to endeavour to remove the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects from the vicinity of military objectives;
- to avoid locating military objectives within or near densely populated areas;
- and to take other necessary precautions to protect the civilian population, individual civilians and civilian objects under their control against the dangers resulting from military operations.
0550. Separating the locations of civilian population/objects and military objectives is an obvious step to protect the population, but one that may run into serious difficulties in densely populated areas … Examples of other precautionary measures might be creating shelter facilities and allowing civil defence organizations to operate.
[emphasis in original]
In its chapter on the protection of the wounded and sick, the manual states: “The parties to a conflict must ensure that the medical units are located, as far as possible, in places where attacks on military objectives do not imperil their safety.”
In its chapter on non-international armed conflict, the manual states:
1045. Participants in an internal armed conflict should also take all possible measures to protect the civilian population against the consequences of attack.
1046. The above means that participants must ask themselves where they may and may not position fighters or equipment. They should make sure that they are not attacking civilians or civilian objects, but military objectives.
In its chapter on peace operations, the manual states:
Persons who are not, or have ceased to be, participants in fighting or hostilities should be protected and treated without any form of discrimination. They and their property should always be respected, especially while operations are in progress.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states: “Separating the locations of civilian population/objects and military objectives is an obvious step to protect the population, but one that may run into serious difficulties in densely populated areas.”
At the CDDH, the Netherlands stated:
The word “feasible” when used in Protocol I, for example in Articles 50 and 51 [now Articles 57 and 58], should in any particular case be interpreted as referring to that which was practicable or practically possible, taking into account all circumstances at the time”.
Upon ratification of the 1977 Additional Protocol I, the Netherlands declared: “The word ‘feasible’ is to be understood as practicable or practically possible taking into account all circumstances ruling at the time, including humanitarian and military considerations.”