In international law, “attacks” are acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or defence and in whatever territory conducted.

This definition applies to

  1. any act of land, air or sea warfare which may affect the civilian population or civilian objects on land;
  2. all attacks from the sea or the air against objectives on land.

Attacks on the civilian population as such, acts of violence the primary purpose of which is to spread terror among the civilian population, and indiscriminate attacks on specified categories of places and civilian objects are prohibited. Precautions must be taken in preparing and carrying out attacks and against the effects of attacks.




DOWNES Alexander B., Targeting Civilians in War, Ithaca, London, Cornell University Press, 2008, 315 pp. 
OLASOLO Héctor, Unlawful Attacks in Combat Situations: from the ICTY’s Case Law to the Rome Statute, Leiden, M. Nijhoff, 2008, 288 pp.
ROSEN Richard D., “Targeting Enemy Forces in the War on Terror: Preserving Civilian Immunity”, in Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 42, No. 3, May 2009, pp. 683-777.

Precautions against the effect of attacks

See Precautions in attack;
Prohibited attacks against the civilian population or intended to spread terror among the civilian population

See also Civilian population; Terror;





Against civilian objects

See also Civilian objects;




Against the civilian population by way of reprisals

See Reprisals;

ndiscriminate attacks

See Indiscriminate attack;



Against non defended localities

See Non-defended localities;