(1) (k) “Civil defence” means the performance of some or all of the humanitarian tasks men-tioned below, intended to protect the civilian population against the dangers, and to help it to recover from the immediate effects, of hostilities or disasters and also to provide the conditions necessary for its survival. These tasks are: (i) warning; (ii) evacuation; (iii) management of shelters; (iv) management of blackout measures; (v) rescue; (vi) medical services, including first aid, and religious assistance; (vii) fire-fighting; (viii) detection and marking of danger areas; (ix) decontamination and similar protective measures; (x) provision of emergency accommodation and supplies; (xi) emergency assistance in the restoration and maintenance of order in distressed areas; (xii) emergency repair of indispensable public utilities; (xiii) emergency disposal of the dead; (xiv) assistance in the preservation of objects essential for survival; (xv) complementary activities necessary to carry out any of the tasks mentioned above, including, but not limited to, planning and organization.
- This definition is almost identical to the definition of civil defence in Art. 61 (a) of AP/I. For the substantive provisions applicable to civil defence, see Section N (I).
- In contrast to the broader meaning of “civil defence” which may include non-military measures relating to national defence (measures such as maintaining of law and order, safeguarding the position of public authorities, psychological defence, etc.), “civil defence” as defined in Rule 1(k) is limited to an exhaustive list of fifteen humanitarian activities aiming towards: (a) protecting the civilian population against the effects of hostilities or disasters; (b) helping the civilian population to recover from the immediate effects of hostilities or disasters; and/or (c) providing the conditions necessary for the survival of the civilian population.
- The activities listed in Rule 1 (k) fall under the definition of civil defence and thus are specifically protected only if their exercise is intended to protect the civilian population or civilian objects. The tasks need to be humanitarian and may not be considered as a contribution to the war effort. Fire-fighting, for example, is a protected civil defence activity only when rescuing civilians or when preventing damage to civilian objects. Personnel fire-fighting on a military airfield would generally not be protected under Rule 1 (k). However, if the fire on a military objective endangers the life of civilians or threatens civilian objects in the vicinity, the fire-fighting would be considered as a civil defence activity if it is done in view of protecting these civilians and civilian objects (see also paragraph 6 of the Commentary on Rule 10 (b) (i)).
- Civil defence activities relate to effects of hostilities but also to those of a disaster, whether it be a natural disaster or a disaster caused by technical malfunction (e.g., a gas leak in a chemical plant). However, the law of international armed conflict would apply to civil defence activities performed in the context of a disaster and — totally unrelated to hostilities — only if these activities are performed in the territory of a State involved in an international armed conflict.