Practice Relating to Rule 1. The Principle of Distinction between Civilians and Combatants
Section A. The principle of distinction
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book I (Basic instruction):
Lesson 1 Basic notions of IHL
The Law of War is based on three fundamental principles:
- The principle of distinction;
- The principle of limitation;
- The principle of proportionality.
The principle of distinction specifies who and what can be attacked and who and what cannot be attacked.
NB: For the soldier, the principle of distinction is the most important.
In Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
II. The fundamental principles of IHL
Just as military operations are based on principles concerning attack, defence, withdrawal, etc., the law of armed conflicts contains a set of well-defined principles. These concrete principles reflect the realities of conflicts. They represent a balance between the principle of humanity and military necessity, and they are valid at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances. It is essential that these rules are known by all combatants. They must permanently be taken into consideration in every activity of assessment, planning, and military training or operation. The following principles can be found throughout the texts of the law of armed conflicts.
At all times, a distinction must be clearly made between combatants and civilians or the civilian population as such.
In Book IV (Instruction of heads of division and company commanders), the Teaching Manual provides:
Chapter 2. Combatants and objectives
In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, military leaders must at all times distinguish between civilian populations and combatants, and between civilian objects and military objectives.