Practice Relating to Rule 11. Indiscriminate Attacks
France’s LOAC Manual (2001) provides: “The law of armed conflicts prohibits … methods of warfare resorting to … indiscriminate attacks.”
At the CDDH, France voted against Article 46 of the draft Additional Protocol I (now Article 51) because it considered:
The provisions of paragraphs 4, 5 and 7 were of a type which by their very complexity would seriously hamper the conduct of defensive military operations against an invader and prejudice the exercise of the inherent right of legitimate defence recognized in Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations.
The instructions given to the French armed forces for the conduct of Opération Mistral, simulating a military operation under the right of self-defence or a mandate of the UN Security Council, state that “indiscriminate attacks … are prohibited”.
In 1996, the Monitoring Group on the Implementation of the 1996 Israel-Lebanon Ceasefire Understanding, consisting of France, Israel, Lebanon, the Syrian Arab Republic and the United States, issued communiqués requesting that all parties avoid arbitrary or indiscriminate attacks on inhabited areas which directly or indirectly endangered civilian life or integrity.
In 2009, the Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of France, in a statement calling for the respect of international humanitarian law, which provided examples of serious violations that had recently occurred in several armed conflicts around the world, noted: “[B]oth Israel and Hamas have used weapons that have indiscriminate effects, since aerial bombing and mortar fire were not used in such a manner as to spare civilians.”