Constant care must be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.
- This Rule is based on Art. 57 (1) to (4) of AP/I. See also Para. 8.1. of NWP.
- Rule 30 makes no distinction between military operations in warfare on land, at sea or in the air. As a general principle, the same norms apply equally in all domains of warfare. It is true that Art. 49 (3) of AP/I and Art. 57 (4) of AP/I imply some form of distinction between the conduct of military operations at sea or in the air compared to land. However, the Group of Experts reached the conclusion that, as a general principle, the same legal regime applies equally in all domains of warfare (land, sea or air ).
- “Constant care” means that there are no exceptions from the duty to seek to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects.
- The Group of Experts noted that there are some objects which, although not civilian objects in the strict sense of the term, are nevertheless subject to the application of Rule 30. A prominent example is that of POW-camps, which are evidently military installations. The Group of Experts could not see any good reason why in practice there ought to be a distinction between them and civilian objects as regards the application of constant care.
- Art. 57 of AP/I (“Precautions in attack”): “(1) In the conduct of military operations, constant care shall be taken to spare the civilian population, civilians and civilian objects. (2) With respect to attacks, the following precautions shall be taken: (a) those who plan or decide upon an attack shall: (i) do everything feasible to verify that the objectives to be attacked are neither civilians nor civilian objects and are not subject to special protection but are military objectives within the meaning of paragraph of Article 52 and that it is not prohibited by the provisions of this Protocol to attack them; (ii) take all feasible precautions in the choice of means and methods of attack with a view to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss or civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects; (iii) refrain from deciding to launch any attack which may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated; (b) an attack shall be cancelled or suspended if it becomes apparent that the objective is not a military one or is subject to special protection or that the attack may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination thereof, which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated; (c) effective advance warning shall be given of attacks which may affect the civilian population, unless circumstances do not permit. (3) When a choice is possible between several military objectives for obtaining a similar military advantage, the objective to be selected shall be that the attack on which may be expected to cause the least danger to civilian lives and to civilian objects. (4) In the conduct of military operations at sea or in the air, each Party to the conflict shall, in conformity with its rights and duties under the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, take all reasonable precautions to avoid losses of civilian lives and damage to civilian objects.”
- Para. 8.1 of NWP (“Principles of lawful targeting”): “The law of targeting … requires that all reasonable pre-cautions must be taken to ensure that only military objectives are targeted so that noncombatants, civilians, and civilian objects are spared as much as possible from the ravages of war.”
- Art. 49 (3) of AP/I: “The provisions of this section apply to any land, air or sea warfare which may affect the civilian population, individual civilians or civilian objects on land. They further apply to all attacks from the sea or from the air against objectives on land but do not otherwise affect the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict at sea or in the air.”
- Art. 57 (4) of AP/I, see fn. 285.
Categories: G: General Rules