« Collateral damage may be the result of military attacks. This fact is recognized by [the law of armed conflict] and, accordingly, it is not unlawful to cause such injury and damage. The principle of proportionality dictates that the results of such action must not be excessive in light of the military advantage anticipated from the attack ». Annexe 1.1

« Well, let me say to you that the Americans are very careful these days. They’ve had 20 years of developing, (a), on the one hand, precise weapons, (b), on the other hand, more rigourous targeting requirements and matching the two. Our rules are even more demanding than theirs. The Australian Air Force – and the Chief of the Air Force briefed Cabinet last night – will not be targeting civilians. And the chance of incidental civilian losses will be very light. » Annexe 1.2


« [I]t will not always be easy for a commander to evaluate [whether an attack will be disproportionate] with precision. On the one hand, he must take into account the elements which are avalaible to him, related to the military necessity necessary to justify an attack, and on the other hand, he must take into account the elements which are avalaible to him, related to the possible loss of human life and damage to civilian objects ». Annexe 1.3

« […] Ten vijfde, ter gelengenheid van de planning van de operaties en rekening houdend met alle hun ter beschikking staande gegevens tijdens deze planningsfase, neemt de NAVO alle mogelijke maatregelen om zogenaamde collateral damage, hetzij ongewilde schade aan de omgeving, inclusief éventuelle schade aan het milieu te vermijden » Annexe 1.4

« Une règle fondamentale du droit humanitaire en question concerne l’interdiction de s’attaquer aux civils et donc a fortiori aux enfants. Le type de munitions a été choisi par l’OTAN en fonction de l’objectif et dans le but de limiter au maximum les dommages collatéraux. Le fait qu’il y ait eu des victimes civiles, lors d’une attaque de cible, ne constitue pas nécessairement une infraction à la règle fondamentale précitée. Dans le cadre de son action humanitaire en Yougoslavie, l’OTAN s’était par ailleurs engagée à respecter cette règle fondamentale » Annexe 1.5


« The military advantage at the time of the attack is that advantage anticipated from the military campaign or opération of which the attack is part, considered as a whole, and not only from isolated or particular parts of that campaign or operation. A concrete and direct military advantage exists if the commander has an honest and reasonable expectation that the attack will make a relevant contribution to the success of the overall operation ». Annexe 1.6

« Consideration must be paid to the honest judgment of responsible commanders, based on the information reasonably available to them at the relevant time, taking fully into account the urgent and difficult circumstances under which such judgements are usually  made and emphasizing that any analysis of the proportionality test must be based on ‘what a reasonable person would do’ in the circumstances ». Annexe 1.7

« Q : The Norwegian government opened talks yesterday to ban cluster bombs throughout the world. Cluster bombs have a history of causing mass civilian casualties and indiscriminate death… Will the [Government] today commit to show leadership on this issue and agree a moratorium ? Will Canada destroy any cluster bombs in Canadian stockpiles ?

R : Canada signed on the agreement in Oslo, Norway to ban cluster bombs. Canada participated in it and now will work with that process to ensure that it becomes an international treaty ». Annexe 1.8

Etats-Unis d’Amérique

« [L]oss of life and damage to property incidental to attacks must not be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage expected to be gained ». Annexe 1.9

« […] In its adoption of a number of provisions dealing with the relations between combatants and the protection of civilians in the territory of the adversary, the Protocol marks the first significant development of the laws of war since 1907. Of the new provisions the United States Delegation welcomes particularly the prohibition of indiscriminate attacks, including target area bombardment of cities (Article 51) […]. We take satisfaction from the first codification of the customary relu of proportionality (Article 57), […]. » Annexe 1.10

« [t]he Coalition’s bombing of legitimate Iraqui military targets, nothwithstanding that it resulted in collatéral injury and damage to civilians and private property, was lawful ». Annexe 1.11

« Les dispositions du droit de la guerre touchant le choix des cibles, les dommages collatéraux et les victimes civiles indirectes découlent du principe de distinction […].

Il existe une disposition non codifiée, […], à savoir le principe de proportionnalité. Ce principe interdit toute action militaire dans laquelle les effets négatifs (tels que les victimes civiles indirectes) outrepassent clairement l’avantage militaire. Cette analyse peut être effectuée objectif par objectif, comme ce fut fréquemment le cas pendant l’opération ‘Tempête du désert’, mais aussi sur un plan général, par rapport aux objectifs de la campagne. Le Commandement Central a mené sa campagne en insistant sur la nécessité de réduire au minimum les dommages collatéraux en termes de victimes civiles et de dommages aux biens de caractères civils. Certaines cibles ont été spécialement évitées parce que la valeur qu’aurait représenté leur destruction était moindre que le risque potentiel pour les civils se trouvant à proximité […].

Les forces de la coalition ont pris plusieurs mesures pour réduire au minimum le risque de blessure aux non-combattants. Dans la mesure du possible et autant que le permettaient les risques acceptables pour les aéronefs et leur équipage, les avions et les munitions ont été choisis de manière à ce que les attaques de cibles situées dans des zones peuplées soient aussi précises que possible et entrainent le moins de risques pour les biens de caractère civil et la population civile. […]

Le principe de proportionnalité reconnaît que les pertes civiles et les dommages collatéraux aux biens de caractère civil sont malheureusement inévitables lorsque les non-combattants et les biens civils sont mêlés aux combattants et aux cibles, et ce même lorsque les parties au conflit font des efforts raisonnables pour réduire au minimum les blessures et dommages collatéraux.

Tel fut le cas pendant la campagne aérienne. En dépit du fait que jamais dans l’histoire campagne aérienne n’avait été menée de manière à cibler si précisément des objectifs militaires, et malgré les mesures extraordinaires prises par les équipages alliés pour réduire au minimum le nombre de victimes civiles incidentes, la coalition n’a pu éviter de causer des dommages et des blessures concomitants.

[…] » Annexe 1.12

« The presence of civilians will not render a target immune from attack… An attacker must exercise reasonable precautions to minimize incidental or collateral injury to the civilian population or damage to civilian objects, consistent with mission accomplishment and allowable risk to the attacking forces. The defending party must exercise reasonable precautions to separate the civilian population and civilian objects from military objectives, and avoid placing military objectives in the midst of the civilian population… [A] defender is expressly prohibited from using the civilian population or civilian objects…to shield targets from attack ». Annexe 1.13

« [The Convention] constitues a modest but significant humanitarian effort to protect the victims of armed conflict from the effects of particular weapons. It will supplement prohibitions or restrictions on the use of weapons contained in existing treaties and customary international law, including the prohibition on the use in war of chemical and bacteriological weapons in the Geneva Protocol of June 17, 1925. It will provide a basis for effective controls on the widespred and indiscriminate use of landmines, which have caused widespread civilian casualties in récent conflicts.


More specifically, by becoming Party, we will encourage the observance by other countries of restrictions on landmines and other weapons that U.S. Armed Forces and those of our allies already observe as a matter of humanity, common sense and sound military doctrine. The United States will be able to take the lead in negotiating improvements to the Mines Protocol so as to deal more effectively with the immense threat to the civilian population caused by the indiscriminate use of those weapons. […] » Annexe 1.14

« […]It is now widely recognized that the massive and indiscriminate use of landmines that has taken place during the past two decades présents a serious danger to the civilian populations. In countries like Afghanistan, Cambodia, and Angola, large numbers of mines have been laid without proper marking and recording, and often for the specific purpose of causing civilian casualties. Protocol II is not a complete answer to this problem, but its observance in these conflicts could have substantially reduced this terrible carnage.


I believe the United States should proceed now with ratification. … In particular, the indiscriminate use of landmines and booby-traps in récent conflicts demonstrates the urgent need for the adoption, implémentation and improvement of Protocol II. This Protocol, which is consistent with military requirements, will, if improved and implemented, greatly reduce the dangers that the civilian population and others (including peacekeeping forces) would otherwise be exposed to. […] » Annexe 1.15

« […]The most important of these Protocol is the amended Mines Protocol. It is an essential step forward in dealing with the problem of anti-personnel landmines (APL) and in minimizing the very severe casualties to civilians that have resulted from their use. It is an important precursor to the total prohibition of these weapons that the United States seeks.

[…] The second of these Protocols – the Protocol on Incendiary Weapons is a part of the original Convention […]. At the same time, [incendiary weapons] can be misused in a manner that could cause heavy civilian casualties. In particular, the Protocol prohibits the use of air-delivered incendiary weapons against targets located in a city, town, village or other concentration of civilians, a practice that caused very heavy civilian casualties in past conflicts.

The exécutive branch has given very careful study to the Incendiaries Protocol and has developed a reservation that would, in our view, make it acceptable from a broader national security perspective. This proposed reservation, the text of which appears in the report of the Department of State, would reserve the right to use incendiaries against military objectives located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and less collateral damage than alternative weapons. […] ». Annexe 1.16

« […] The Department of Defense prohibits the use of lasers specifically designed to cause permanent blindness and supports negotiations to prohibit the use of such weapons. However, laser systems are absolutely vital to our modern military. […] In addition, lasers provide significant humanitarian benefits. They allow weapon systems to be increasingly discriminate, thereby reducing collateral damage to civilian lives and property. The Department of Defense recognizes that accidental or incidental eye injuries may occur on the battlefield as the result of the use of lasers not specifically designed to cause permanent blindness. Therefore, we continue to strive, through training and doctrine, to minimize these injuries. » Annexe 1.17

« […] In doing so, the United States has acted pursuant to the right of self-defence confirmed by article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. The targets struck, and the timing and method of attack used, were carefully designed to minimize risks of collatéral damage to civilians and to comply with international law, including the rules of necessity and proportionality ». Annexe 1.18

« […] In response to these attacks [11 september 2001], […] United States armed forces have initiated actions designed to prevent and deter further attacks on the United States. These actions include measures against Al-Quaeda terroris training and military installations of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In carrying out these actions, the United States is committed to minimizing civilian casualties and damage to civilian property. In addition, the United States will continue its humanitarian efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people of Afghanistant ». Annexe 1.19

« Only a military objective is a lawful object of the attack. Therefore, constant care must be taken when conducing military operations to spare nonmilitary objects and persons, and positive steps must be taken to avoid or minimize any civilian casualties or damage. The principle of proportionality must always be followed, which prohibits an attack when the expected collateral civilian casualties or damage to civilian objects is excessive or disproportionate to the military advantage anticipated by the attack ». Annexe 1.20

« Standards of conduct should apply equally to the attacker and defender. In other words, that the responsibility to minimize collateral injury to the civilian population not directly involved in the war effort remains one shared by the attacker and the  defender ; and that the nation that uses its civilian population to shield its own military forces violates the law of war at the peril of the civilians behind whom it hides. … At the same time, however, targeters and judge advocates should consider the necessity of hitting the particular target, the expected results versus expected collateral damage, and ways to minimize civilian casualties, if possible ». Annexe 1.21

« […] There were people within this area of Oruzgan Province that regularly aimed and fired of variety of weapons at coalition aircraft. These weapons represented a real threat to coalition forces. As OFT commenced, AAA [Anti-Aircraft Artillery] weapons were fired and, as result, an AC-130 aircraft, acting properly and in accordance with the rules, engaged the locations of those weapons. Great care was taken to strike only those sites that were actively firing that night. While the coalition regrets the loss of innocent lives, the responsibility for that loss rests with those that knowingly directed hostile fire at coalition forces. The operators of those weapons elected to place them in civilian communities and elected to fire them at coalition forces at a time when they knew there were a significant number of civilians present ». Annexe 1.22

« [T]he law of armed conflict does not require the effects of weapons to be limited such that they cause no civilian casualties. This would, unfortunately, be impossible. It does [,] however, … require compliance with the principle of proportionality with respect to the use of weapons and thus requires an assessment of the risks posed to civilians in the context of the military advantage hoped for. Two important points have been made in this connection … First, that the proportionality test is applied on the basis of information reasonably available to the commander at the time of the attack. And secondly, the longer term risks posed by ERW are generally too remote to be capable of assessment at that time. On the other hand, the immédiate risks to civilians from unexploded submunitions in the aftermath of an attack must be taken into account, and indeed they are. Energies directed by some governments towards technically reducing the risk of unexploded submunitions reflects serious consideration of that very risk.

Further, … the proportionality test requires examination of ‘the whole picture’, including the alternative means and methods of attack that may be available. One must consider, for example, the risk of harm to civilians potentially caused by unitary bombs, possibly used in higher numbers, against, for example, the risks posed by a smaller number of munitions containing submunitions, some percentage of which may fail to detonate.  The reality is that the use of unitary bombs may well cause more civilian casualties in certain situations. Those planning an attack must take such factors into account when applying the principle of proportionality in good faith. Indeed, this is one reason why … proposals to apply by analogy rules designed to deal with incendiaries to cluster bomb units could well result in more civilian casualties. We certainly do not want such a result or to do anything which can be predicted to have that result, or which would undercut fondamental principles of international humanitarian law.

[ …] ». Annexe 1.23

« […] You’ve heard us say many times that we strike only military targets while taking extraordinary care to avoid unnecessary civilian casualties and to minimize collateral damage. […]

[…] how important it is for us to ensure that when we are given an order to take military action, that we then take that action in a prudent fashion that allows us to minimize any potential damage to the people or facilities surrounding any military target.

Collateral damage is really kind of two separate pièces. One is damage to facilities and the other is unintended casualties … [to]…noncombatants. It can occur – … it does occur – in any conflict, in some cases because of human error, in some cases because of a mechanical error in a weapons system and in some cases, the situation on the battlefield is confuse enough that people make mistakes. However, as we evaluate targets potentially to be struck, we do look to ensure that we … stay clear of sites that are intended to be protected, like schools, mosques, civil buildings that have no military value, [and] certainly residence areas. We need to ensure that when we find targets that are what we’ll call dual use… that we are very prudent in the way we strike those so as to minimize any potential damage or danger to noncombatants.


I don’t want to say there will be no damage. I don’t want to say there will be no casualties. But there is a very good way to try to keep the number of casualties and the damage to a minimum. » Annexe 1.24

« Franks also indicated that he would not hesitate to propose attacks that put civilians at risk if high-priority targets were identified. ‘High collatéral damage targeting will occur’, he said… It was vital to shock the [Iraqui] régime and to do so as rapidly as possible. Under existing procédures, however, any attack that was estimated to result in the death of thirty or more civilians had to be approved by [Secretary of Defense] Rumsfeld ». Annexe 1.25

« The report reviewed the human rights situation in the Occupied Territories during 2004. It indicated that arbitrary or unlawful killings by Israeli and Palestinian forces and by Israeli settlers and Palestinian militants continued to occur (including ‘excessive collateral damage’ – killing of Palestinians civilians during IDF military operations) ; […] ». Annexe 1.26

–   « […] But until the Palestinians and those claiming to act in their name stop their use of indiscriminate acts of terror, Israel will likely continue to track down the terrorists wherever they may hide, often with the tragic, but unintended result of civilian casualties ». Annexe 1.27

« The United States recognises that customary international law requires that incidental losses or damage be minimised to the extent feasible. […]

Authorities on the law of armed conflict generally agree that an attack should be called off or halted if expected civilian casualties would be excessive or disproportionate to the expected military advantage. There are, however, few historical examples of this principle being applied in practice. […] ». Annexe 1.28

« Discrimination [i.e., distinction] requires combattants to differentiate between enemy combattants, who represent a threat, and noncombatants, who do not… [T]his restriction means that combatants cannot intend to harm noncombatants, though proportionality permits them to act, knowing some noncombatants may be harmed » Annexe 1.29

«  Today the [Department of Defense (DoD)] released a newly approved U.S. cluster munitions policy. The United States believes that the new policy will provide better protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure following a conflict, while allowing for the rétention of a legitimate and useful weapon.

Recognizing the need to minimize the unintended harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure associated with unexploded ordnance frm cluster munitions, the secretary of défense has approved a new Policy on cluster munitions intended to reduce collatéral effects resulting from the use of cluster munitions in pursuit of legitimate military objectives. The new policy is the result of a year-long [DoD] review.

Cluster munitions are legitimate weapons with clear military utility in combat. They provide distinct advantages against a range of targets, where their use reduces risks to U.S. forces and can save U.S. lives. These weapons can also reduce unintended harm to civilians during combat, by producing less collateral damage to civilians and civilian infrastructure tha unitary weapons. Because future adversaries will likely use civilian shields for military targets – for example by locating a military target on the roof of an occupied building – use of unitary weapons could result in more civilian casualties and damage than cluster munitions. Blanket élimination of cluster munitions is therefore unacceptable due not only to negative military consequences but also due to potential negative consequences for civilians.

Post-combat, the impact of cluster munitions is limited in scope, scale and duration compared to other explosive remnants of war (ERW). According to the Feb. 15, 2008, State Department white paper (« Putting the Impact of Cluster Munitions in Context with the Effects of All Explosive Remnants of War »), in 2006 fewer than 400 casualties were attributable to cluster munitions out of a global total of 5,759 reported for all ERW ». Annexe 1.30

« I believe that the civilians casualties are doing us a enormous harm in Afghanistan, and we have got to do better in terms of avoiding casualties … because my worry is that the Afghans come to see us as part of the problem, rather than as part of the solution. And then we are lost ». Annexe 1.31

« Bombs could be dropped only when solid intelligence showed that high level militants were présent or U.S. forces were in imminent danger [and] made it clear he would rather allow a few rank-and-file Taliban fighters to get away that to flatten a house whose occupants might include women and children » Annexe 1.32

« […] In particular, this Administration has carefully reviewed the rules governing targeting opérations to ensure that these opérations are conducted consistently with law of war principles, including :

1.            First, the principle of distinction, which requires that attacks be limited to military objectives and that civilians or civilian objects shall not be the object of the attack ; and

2.            Second, the principle of proportionality, which prohibits attacks that may be expected to cause incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, damage to civilian objects, or a combination therof, that would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated.

In U.S. operations against al-Quaeda and its associated forces – including lethal opérations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles – great care is taken to adhere to these principles in both planning and execution, to ensure that only legitimate objectives are targeted and that collateral damage is kept to a minimum.


Indeed, targeting particular individuals serves to narrow the focus when force is employed and to avoid broader harm to civilians and civilian objects.


Indeed, using such advanced technologies can ensure both that the best intelligence is available for planning operations, and that civilian casualties are minimized in carrying out such operations.


In my experience, the principles of distinction and proportionality that the United States applies are not just recited at meetings. They are implemented rigorously throughout the planning and exécution of lethal opérations to ensure that such opérations are conducted in accordance with all  applicable law. […]». Annexe 1.33

« […] These indiscriminate weapons are triggered by the victim, and even those that are designed to self-destruct after a period of time (so-called ‘smart’ mines) pose a risk of being triggered by U.S. forces or civilians, such as a farmer working in the fields or a young child.


In the ten years since the Convention came into force, 158 nations have signed including the United States Kingdom and other [International Security Assistance Force] partners, as well as Iraq and Afghanistan which, like Colombia, are parties to the Convention and have suffered thousands of mine casualties. The Convention has led to a dramatic decline in the use, production and export of anti-personnel mines.

We note that our NATO allies have addressed their force protection needs in accordance with their obligations Under the Convention. We are also mindful that anti-personnel mines pose grave dangers to civilians, and that avoiding civilian casualties and the anger and resentment that result has become a key priority in building public support for our mission in Afghanistan.

[…] ». Annexe 1.34


« La France ne peut qu’être préoccupée par l’absence de négociations et le recours indiscriminé à la force. […] A cet égard, l’importance des pertes civiles montre que les méthodes et les moyens militaires employés vont bien au-delà des règles générales fixées pour l’usage des forces armées dans les conflits internes. […] » Annexe 1.35

« The Commission reminded us of fundamental International Humanitarian Law principles, especially the principle of distinction and the principles of precaution and proportionality (Articles 48, 51 and 57 of Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 […]). […] The National Advisory Commission emphasised that cluster weapon systems produce serious damages for civilians, not only during the conflict, when they are used, but also after the conflict, as explosive remnants of war. […] ». Annexe 1.36


« […] h. Based on Iran’s interpretation of Articles 51 and 57 of the First Additional Protocol, ‘military advantage’ will be the advantage expected from an invasion in its entirety and not part of it ; […] ». Annexe 1.37


“[…] International law recognizes that civilian deaths and injuries may occur in lawful military operations. For an operation to be lawful it must be directed at a « legitimate military objective » and be « proportionate ». […]

International law also requires that any military operation be ‘proportionate’ in the sense that expected collateral damage to civilians and civilian objects must not be excessive in relation to the military advantage anticipated. This is a complex and difficult calculation and international law relies on the best determination of the commander in the field in the heat of the conflict to weigh all relevant considerations, including the security of his own forces.

Israel has adopted these principles of the law of armed conflict, in its military training, its operational planning and in practice. Frequently, proposed operations are cancelled because the risk of injury to civilians might not be proportional to the military goals of the operation.” Annexe 1.38

“Q: Did Israel use disproportionate force in Gaza?

A: In addition to the principle of distinction, customary international law bars military attacks that are anticipated to harm civilians excessively in relation to the expected military advantage. This is known as the « principle of proportionality. » The very notion of not inflicting « excessive » harm recognizes that some civilian casualties may be unavoidable when pursuing legitimate military objectives.

By definition, then, evaluation of proportionality (or excessive harm to civilians compared to military advantage) requires balancing two very different sets of values and objectives. States have duties to protect the lives of their civilians and soldiers, but they must balance this against their duty to minimize incidental loss of civilian lives and civilian property during military operations. That is precisely the reason that international law assesses proportionality from the standpoint of a « reasonable military commander, » and the balancing may not be second-guessed in hindsight, based on new information that has come to light.

As with the principle of distinction, a showing of intent is required for there to have been any arguable « war crime » based on excessive civilian harm in comparison with military objectives. In other words, the existence of a war crime turns not on the reasonableness of the commander’s weighing of military advantage against civilian harm, but on whether he or she knew that the attack would cause clearly disproportionate harm, but proceeded intentionally, notwithstanding this knowledge.

The IDF took extensive steps to weigh the risk of civilian harm against the existence of important military objectives, based on the information available at the time of targeting decisions.  On numerous occasions, The IDF’s situation analysis frequently led to a decision not to attack legitimate military targets, to avoid the possibility of civilian harm, even though such an attack might not be excessive in relation to the anticipated military advantage.” Annexe 1.39


« […] Neither the civilian population nor individual civilians may be made the object of attack. Attacks on military objectives should be carried out in such a way as to avoid such injury to civilians or their possessions as would be disproportionate to the military advantage anticipated.

It is difficult to make a definite statement on the basis of this principle, in particular since it is not an absolute norm but a rule which requires a balancing of entirely different éléments. In addition, the interests have to be weighed by third parties who do not have sufficient exact and vérifiable informations available ». Annexe 1.40

« According to the déclarations of some of the NATO countries at the Diplomatic Conference, the term ‘military advantage’ should be understood to mean the advantage anticipated from the attack considered as a whole and not only from certain parts of the operation. A seemingly useless military opération may, viewed in a wider perspective, yield a positive military advantage. Therefore,we have the intention, upon ratification of the Protocol, to make a déclaration in the above sens with regard to the fifth paragraph of Article 51, as well as the third paragraph of Article 57 [of Protocol I] which includes the same term ». Annexe 1.41

« […] I clarified the Government’s position that this action is in accordance with international law, including the relevant treaties, that it is proportionate and that innocent civilians are spared as much as possible. As already noted in my response to question one, I have called on my Israeli counterpart, Ms Tzipi Livni, to ensure that civilians are spared.


In terms of international law, the situation regarding the alleged use of phosphorus bombs is therefore that none of these legal instruments [First Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, Third Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, …] apply to Israel, with the exception of those provisions that can be regarded as constituting customary international law. These included, inter alia, the principle of proportionality, the rule that the civilian population may not be the object of attack and the rule that attacks which are unable to differentiate between civilians and combattants are prohibited » Annexe 1.42


« Existing laws of war already impose restrictions on attacks on [nuclear] installations which would pose a particular threat to civilian populations and require a balance to be struck between the military advantage and the danger of collateral damage to the civilian population ». Annexe 1.43

« International law requires that, in planning an attack on any military objective, account is taken of certain principles. These include the principles that civilian losses, whether of life or property, should be avoided or minimised so far as practicable, and that an attack should not be launched if it can be expected to cause civilian losses which would be disproportionate to the military advantage expected from the attack as a whole ». Annexe 1.44

« […] Throughout this affair, Britain has committed itself to acting strictly in accordance whith international law. In that context, the principles of international law require that account be taken of two factors when planning attacks on military objectives. First, civilian losses, whether of life or property, should be avoided or minimised as far as practicable. Secondly, we should not cause civilian losses that are disproportionate to the military advantage expected from the attack as a whole. The hon. Gentleman will know, because it has been frequently stated by the Prime Minister and others, that British military commanders have been instructed to comply with those principles ». Annexe 1.45

« It is Allied Policy only to attack military targets and facilities which support Iraq’s illegal occupation of Kuwait, and to make every possible effort to minimise civilian casualties. This is entirely in accordance whith the rules of war and the Geneva Conventions. This extraordinary measures that Allied air forces have taken to avoid causing civilian casualties demonstrate clearly that Allied military commanders are working strictly whithin this Policy ». Annexe 1.46

« Oui, des cas de ce type se sont produits. En particulier lorsque des dommages collatéraux se produisaient, comme c’était le cas, et lorsque certaines des cibles étaient situées dans des sites où tout dysfonctionnement des systèmes d’armes aurait inévitablement entrainé de graves dommages collatéraux, il s’est produit un ou deux cas dans lesquels j’ai décidé de ne pas attaquer ces objectifs, mais ces cas ont été très rares et surtout – c’est le plus important – ils n’étaient pas, à mes yeux ni pour les Américains, d’une importance essentielle, c’est-à-dire qu’ils n’étaient pas cruciaux pour obtenir la victoire en temps utile. Si tel avait été le cas, alors, malheureusement, et quels que soient les dommages collatéraux potentiels, nous aurions fait face à nos responsabilités, qui étaient d’accepter le choix de ces cibles et de les attaquer. Mais, vers la fin, il s’est produit, sauf erreur, deux cas où j’ai choisi de ne pas attaquer et de me reporter sur des objectifs de remplacement. […] » Annexe 1.47

« The Geneva Conventions contain no provisions expressly regulating targeting in armed conflict. The Hague Regulations of 1907 and customary international law do, however, incorporate the twin principles of distinction between military and civilian objects, and of proportionality so far as the risk of collateral civilian damage from an attack on a military objective is concerned.

These principles and associated rules of international law were observed at all times by coalition forces in the planning and execution of attacks against Iraq. I understand that Mr. Cheney has made clear his belief that every Iraqi target selected by the coalition forces was perfectly legitimate ». Annexe 1.48

« Article 3, paragraph 3, of protocol II of the said convention prohibits the use of land mines or booby-traps which may be expected to cause incidental civilian losses which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated. Whether any such losses might be considered excessive must depend on the individual circumstances of given cases ». Annexe 1.49

« The military advantage anticipated from an attack is intended to refer to the advantage anticipated from the attack considered as a whole and not only from isolated or particular parts of the attack » Annexe 1.50

« […] UK Armed Forces use the most effective weapons systems available, subject to compliance with international humanitarian law. Cluster bombs are an effective weapon against targets such as soft skinned military vehicles. The cluster bomb used by UK Armed Forces is not banned by any international agreement. Is is not an anti-personnel mine as defined by the Ottawa Convention, nor is it prohibited under that Convention, under UK national legislation on land mines or by the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions. All feasible precautions are always taken with a vview to avoiding, and in any event, minimising collateral damage. […] » Annexe 1.51

« It is entirely appropriate that cluster bombs should be included in international discussions in the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons aimed at minimising the hazard to civilians from explosive remnants of war. International law already exists to restrict the targeting of cluster bombs and other munitions so as to protect civilians, in the form of Article 51 of the First Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions, to which the United Kingdom is a State Party. […] ». Annexe 1.52

« […] In practice, it is extremely difficult to give estimates of civilian casualties, despite the painstaking battle-damage assessment (BDA) that the coalition routinely carries out every time ordnance is released. The Ministry of Defence has no objective means of verifying Iraqi claims of civilians casualties ; I am not therefore in a position to provide the information requested by my hon. Friend. However, we can demonstrate categorically that many of the Iraqui claims of civilian causalties are either exaggerated or wholly untrue.

On a number occasions the Iraqis have claimed that coalition aircraft have caused civilian casualties when allied aircraft have not released any munitions, or even been flying. On 19 June 2001, for example, it seems very probable that the civilian casualties, which the Iraqis claimed were caused by coalition activities, were in fact caused by an Iraqi munition. No ordnance was dopped by the coalition on 19 June. There have also been many instances when the Iraqis claimed civilians have been killed, where our BDA has clearly indicated that only military facilities were attacked. […] ». Annexe 1.53

« […] On the rare occasions where ordnance has failed to hit the intended target, it has almost invariably landed on open ground. It is extremely difficult to assess collateral damage, or numbers of civilian casualties caused by the remainder, despite the painstaking Battle Damage Assessment (BDA) that the coalition carries out every time ordnance is released. However, it is possible to demonstrate categorically that many of the Iraqi claims of collateral damage and civilian casualties are untrue. There have, for example, been serevral instances when Iraqis have claimed civilian casualties when coalition aircraft have not been flying, or when BDA has confirmed that only military targets were hit. Indeed, there is good evidence that, on several occasions where Saddam has made claims of civilians casualties, it has been caused by Iraqi artillery shells or missiles, recklessly at coalition aircraft, falling to earth in built up areas.


We make every effort to select targets and to employ precision guided munitions in order to minimise the possibility of collateral damage and civilian casualties. Despite these efforts, regrettably, on occasions civilians may have suffered as a result of coalition activity. […] ». Annexe 1.54

« […] The coalition targets Iraqi air defence facilities that pose a threat to its forces patrolling th no-fly zones. Exceptional lenghts are taken to ensure civilian casualties are kept to the absolute minimum possible, including the employment of very carefully controlled targeting procedures and precision guided munitions. It is Saddam’s interests to distort the truth in his attempts to convince the world that the coalition is responsible for causing widespread suffering to the Iraqi civilian populace. […] » Annexe 1.55

« It is impossible to know for certain ho many casualties, either military or civilian, there have been as a result of coalition action in Afghanistan. The Taliban’s claims of casualties cannot be taken at face value.

Military action inevitably carries risks, but as my right hon. Fried the Secretary of State has made clear in the House, our targeting and weapons selection processes are rigorous. Every effort is made to avoid civilians casualties. » Annexe 1.56

« We have no means of ascertaining the numbers of military or civilians lives lost during the conflict in Iraq to date, although we make every effort to keep any impact upon the Iraqi civilian population to an absolute minimum. All our military planning is conducted in accordance with our obligations under international law to employ the minimum necessary use of force to achieve military effect, and to avoid injury to non-combatants or civilian infrastructure. Practically, this is achieved through a combination of an extremely careful targeting process and hyghly accurate precision guided weapons ». Annexe 1.57

« The military campaign is crafted around the principle of minimum use of force. We attack only military objectives and combatans subject to the constraints of proportionality. If there is any expectation that harm will be caused to civilians, this must not be excessive when set against the direct and concrete military advantage anticipated from the attack. That approach fully reflects our obligations under international law ». Annexe 1.58

« Cluster bombs are only used strictly in accordance woth international law. This includes the principles of distinction and proportionality as well as precautionary measures to be taken in planning and conducting an attack, as contained in the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. The targeting process takes account of these principles in matching the type of weapon used to the target to be attacked. There will be circumstances when it would be considered more appropriate to use other munitions than cluster bombs. These circumstances are more likely to arise in urban or populated areas as cluster bombs engage targets that cover an area. However, a decision on which type of munition to use has to take into account all the circumstances at the time of an attack. It follows that it would be unlikely that cluster bomvs would be used in an urban or populated area ». Annexe 1.59

« All reports of coalition action resulting in the deaths of civilians are investigated. The United Kingdom Works with coalition partners to verify the facts of such reported incidents. The profession of civilian casualties is not a concern when investigating such incidents.

Very careful attention is applied to ensure that in the coalition’s campaign the risk of damage to civilian populations and infrastructure is minimised. However, military action is never without risk, and lawful actions against military targets may result in harm to civilians. Any civilian casualties resulting from military action are deeply regretted. […] ». Annexe 1.60

« We take our obligations under International Law and the Laws of Armed Conflict to avoid collateral damage and excessive military casualties very seriously. Any loss of life, particularly civilian, is deeply regrettable, but in a military operation the size of Operation Telic it is also unavoidable. Through very strict rules of engagement, the use of precision munitions and the tactical methods employed to liberate Iraq’s major cities, we are satisfied that the coalition did everything possible to avoid unnecessary casualties ». Annexe 1.61

« My Lords, every effort is made to minimise the impact of military operations on the Iraqi civilian population, and we deeply regret all civilian casualties. Since 1st May 2003, we have investigated every civilian fatality allegedly caused by UK military personnel, sometimes resulting in a formal investigation by the Special Investigation Branch […] ». Annexe 1.62

« 2.6. The principle of proportionality requires that the losses resulting from a military action should not be excessive in relation to the expected military adantage.


2.6.2. The principle of proportionality is a link between the principles of military necessity and humanity. It is most évident in connection with the reduction of incidental damage caused by military operations.


2.7. Modern, smart weaponry has increased the options available to the military planner. He needs not only to assess what feasible precautions can be taken to minimize incidental loss but also to make a comparison between different methods of conducting operations, so as to be able to choose the least damaging method compatible whith military success. » Annexe 1.63

« It is about proportionality. It depends in what circumstances. If you are asking me this direct question – and I know it is a matter that is often raised – if Osama Bin Laden was killed whilst involved in military action, say, in the border areas between Afghanistan and Pakistan where he is most likely to have been and he failed to give himself up and the other casualties were people who were also involved in insurgency I think people would say that was horrible but acceptable. On the other hand, if in the course of seeking to kill him quite a number of entirely innocent people were killed because of where he was, I think different considerations would apply there…we have got to ensure that we follow a consistent pattern about the application of the rule of law in proportionate responses however difficult the military circumstances may be ». Annexe 1.64

« The UK and US are no longer occupying powers and therefore the 4th Geneva Convention does not apply. Nonetheless, the Multi-National Force (MNF) seks at all times to minimise the impact of any military action on innocent civilians and, of course, to avoid civilian casualties. The bulk of their duty involves protecting civilians. […] » Annexe 1.65

« This statement provides a response to the article ‘Mortality before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq : cluster sample survey’ published in the Lancet on 29 October [2004] concerning civilians casualties since the beginning of military action in Iraq in March 2003.

It is important to recall the background to the current violence in Iraq. In the period of major combat activities in Iraq between the coalition and Iraqi forces loyal to Saddam Hussein, there were inevitably civilian casualties caused by military action by both sides. Every effort was made, on the part of the coalition, to minimise the civilian casualties as required by international humanitarian law.


The Lancet study suggests that there is an obligation deriving from Article 27 of the fourth Geneva Convention for the MNF [Multi-National Force] itself to have a reckoning of the number of civilian casualties it has caused. There is nothing in article 27, or elsewhere in the fourth Geneva Convention, to support this suggestion.

The basic obligations Under international humanitarian law as regards civilian casualties in an armed conflict are set out in additional protocol I to the Geneva Conventions, which also reflects customary international law. In particular, indiscriminate attacks are prohibited, and this includes 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’.

This obligation under international humanitarian law has been fully complied with by the United Kingdom in respect of all military operations in Iraq.

[…] ». Annexe 1.66

« The United Kingdom takes seriously its responsibilities and obligations under Geneva Conventions which identify civilians as ‘protected persons’. The Ministry of Defense has not previously published estimates of civilians casualties because there are no reliable means of producing such estimates. There is no specific requirement Under the Geneva Conventions to produce estimates of civilians casualties.

We take great care to ensure that civilians are protected and that our obligations Under the Geneva Conventions are met. All personnel serving in Iraq are fully briefed on the Law of Armed Conflict and appropriate measures are taken to avoid loss of civilian life or property. We always evaluate planned operations to ensure that they do not carry an unacceptable risk of causing unintended civilian casualties ». Annexe 1.67

« International forces, including UK forces, seek at all times to avoid loss of civilian life. The targeting process, weapons selection, doctrine, training and rules of engagement are all in line with international humanitarian and human rights law and the law of armed conflict.


All reports of civilian casualties are investigated promptly and thoroughly, in co-ordination with the Afghan authorities. Where the UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan chooses to investigate an incident, it is entirely free to do so ». Annexe 1.68

« […] We are one meeting away from the completion of that process and there are some outstanding issues. One is the définition of what range of cluster munitions should be banned. At the moment we are holding to line that it is not the category of weapons per se that needs to be banned, but those weapons that cause unacceptable harm to civilians because of two particulars features. Those features are first, the lack of self-destruct mechanism and secondly, an aiming system that essentially means that they are fired blind, without those who fire them being able to see the target – something that is another cause of indiscriminate civilian casualties. […] » Annexe 1.69

« […] In the House of Lords, I used the term ‘unacceptable casualties’, which falls into the same category as ‘responsible’. That term was derived by the Oslo procès because ultimately all weapons are dangerous ; you never want to use them and there are nearly always tragic, collateral casualties among innocent civilians. It is always a matter of balancing what weapon you think it is reasonable to use and what weapon is likely to minimise, altough unfortunately never, civilian casualties ». Annexe 1.70

« […]However, [cluster munitions] are appropriate in certain circumstances […]. The alternative, if we took them out, would be that we would have to bomb quite extensively the area and that risks a significant degree of collatéral or civilian damage if we were to deploy a large amount of force over a large area in order to achieve the same objective. […] ». Annexe 1.71

« […] It is also the long-standing position of the British Government that any response by Israel should be in accordance with international law, including the fourth Geneva Convention. We also, of course, deplore civilian casualties on both sides of the conflict. […] ». Annexe 1.72

« […] During the 2006 conflict between Hezbollah and Israel the UK issued numerous statements condemning the firing of rockets by Hezbollah into Israel. During the 2006 conflict we also repeatedly called on Israel to ensure its response was proportionate and avoided civilian casualties. […] ». Annexe 1.73

« The Ministry of Defence does not collate data relating to reports or complaints of civilian casualties where these do not relate to incidents allegedly caused by UK forces. Any such reports are passed to the NATO chain of command or the respective national authorities for investigation.

Over the last 12 months, my Department has received formal notification of two occasions on which UK aircraft were involved in incidents in which civilian casualties are believed to have occured. On occured in March 2008 and the second in September 2008. In both cases, the incidents were subjected to a thorough and detailed investigation. There is no reason to believe that UK forces behaved inappropriately in either incident. We do not collate or publish figures for civilians casualties in Afghanistan because of the immense difficulty and risks of collecting robust data ». Annexe 1.74

« […] We regret incidents where civilians are accidentaly killed as a result of actions by international forces. Procedures are in place, and being constantly updated in the light of experience, both to minimise the risk of these casualties occurring and to investigate any incidents that do happen. Wherever possible, local populations are warned of impending operations. […]It is therefore impossible to estimate with any confidence the number of civilian casualties in Helmand province in 2007-08 that have been caused by the current conflict ». Annexe 1.75


« […] L’examen juridique du point de savoir si une arme inflige des maux superflus est difficile, car il s’agit largement d’une question d’appréciation. Pour répondre à cette dernière, on compare en général l’effet de l’arme en cause à celui d’une arme traditionnelle qui poursuit en principe le même but […], en cherchant à établir si cet effet est proportionnel à l’avantage militaire que procure l’utilisation de l’arme.


L’examen de la proportionnalité consiste à comparer les lésions causées à l’avantage militaire obtenu, comparaison qui, rapidement, conduit à constater une dispoportion marquée. […]

Compte tenu des considérations juridique qui précèdent, nous n’en parvenons pas moins aux conclusions suivantes :

o            L’effet principal des armes aveuglantes à laser est de détruire la vue de la victime, causant ainsi une blessure grave et des souffrances aiguës.

o            L’avantage militaire que procurent ces armes sur le champ de bataille ne saurait justifier leurs effets sur la personne humaine.

o            Vu leurs effets particulièrement importants et le fait que ceux-ci ne sauraient être justifiés en invoquant l’avantage militaire obtenu, l’utilisation des armes en cause est contraire au droit international humanitaire […]. ». Annexe 1.76


« Rules of engagment and concerns about collateral damage placed on us by our political masters are, rightly, very tautly drawn. The discipline of our people is such that they will not drop their weapons unless they have clearly identified their assigned target and know precisely what they’re doing ». Annexe 1.77

« The targets were exclusively military – every effort was made to avoid collateral damage – planes only fire at targets when we are confident that we can strike accurately – some aicraft in the first operation returned without dropping ordnance. Targets are carefully selected and continuously assessed to avoid collateral damage ». Annexe 1.78

« Others, and I have said continually this week that our aim is to hit the target and not to cause collateral damage to any surrounding area. You have seen the effects of the bombs that we have dropped and the missiles that we have launched. We need to put those on the target, so if someone is in the cockpit and he has to make sure that he can see that target and if he doesn’t he is professional enough to not hit that target and bring his bombs back ». Annexe 1.79

« […] En vertu du droit international humanitaire, les parties au conflit doivent prendre toutes les précautions possibles lorsqu’elles lancent des attaques. Cela inclut de renoncer à des missions, s’il apparaît que l’objectif n’est pas de nature militaire ou que l’attaque risque de causer incidemment des pertes en vies humaines, qui seraient excessives par rapport à l’avantage militaire attendu ». Annexe 1.80

« L’OTAN a fait tout ce qui était en son pouvoir pour éviter des pertes civiles et des dommages collatéraux, en prenant pour seul objectif l’infrastructure militaire du Président Milosevic. Les installations de la RTS étaient utilisées comme émetteurs et relais radio pour soutenir les activités de l’armée et des forces spéciales de police de la République fédérale de Yougoslavie, et constituaient par conséquent des cibles militaires légitimes ». Annexe 1.81