Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section A. The principle of distinction
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands states: “The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants.”
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands lists the “distinction between civilian and military” as one of five “generally accepted principles of the humanitarian law of war”.
The manual states that “military action must take account of the distinction between combatants and military aims on the one hand, and civilians and civilian property on the other”.
In its chapter on methods and means of warfare, the manual states: “The parties to a conflict should … always discriminate between the civilian population and civilian property on the one hand, and combatants and military targets on the other.”
In its chapter on behaviour in battle, the manual provides: “The parties to a conflict should always distinguish between the civilian population and combatants, and between civilian objects and military targets.”