Any object which is not a military objective. A civilian object must not be attacked unless it is used in a way that renders it a military objective. It may not be the target of reprisals. In case of doubt whether an object which is normally a civilian object (e.g., a place of worship, a house or other dwellings, a school) is a military objective, it must be considered as a civilian object.   See Property; Cultural property; Environment; Water;




     PI, 52

     CIHL, 9

Protection: general (+ principle of distinction)

     HR, 23(g), 25, 26, 27, 28, 46, 47, 52, 53, 54

     GCIV, 33, 46, 53

     PI, 48, 51, 52, 57

     CIHL, 7, 8, 9, 10

Protection: precautionary measures (See also Precautions against the effets of attacks; Precautions in attack)

     HR, 26-27

     PI, 48, 51, 56-58

Protection: prohibition of confiscation

     HR, 46/2

     CIHL, 51(a) and (c)

Protection: prohibition of destruction and seizure unless required by military necessity (See also Property; Seizure)

     HR, 23(g)

     GCIV, 53

     PI, 54/5

     CIHL, 50

Protection: against direct attack

     HR, 25, 27

     PI, 52/1, 56, 59-60

     CIHL, 7 and 10

Protection: prohibition of indiscriminate attacks (See also Indiscriminate attacks)

     PI, 52/4-5

Protection: prohibition of pillage (See also Pillage)

     HR, 28

     GCI, 15/1 (see ICRC updated Commentary)

     GCII, 18/1 (see ICRC updated Commentary)

     GCIV, 16, 33

     PII, 4/2(g), 8

Protection: presumption of civilian character

     PI, 52/3

Protection: prohibition of reprisals (See also Reprisals)

     GCIV, 33

     PI, 52/1

Grave breach (See also Grave breaches)

     GCIV, 147

     PI, 85

specially protected objects

     cultural objects (See Cultural objects)

     indispensable for the survival of the civilian population (See Objects indispensable for the survival of the civilian population)

     works and installations containing dangerous forces (See Works and installations containing dangerous forces)


Israel, House Demolitions in the Occupied Palestinian Territory [Parts D and E]

Iran/Iraq, UN Security Council Assessing Violations of International Humanitarian Law

ICTY, The Prosecutor v. Rajic [Part A., paras 39 and 42]

ICTY, The Prosecutor v. Strugar [Part B., para. 282]

Croatia, Prosecutor v. Rajko Radulovic and Others

Afghanistan, Operation “Enduring Freedom” [Part B.]

Afghanistan, Code of Conduct for the Mujahideen [Arts 19-21, 23-25, 52-53-58]

Georgia/Russia, Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the Conflict in South Ossetia [Paras 37-47, 94-109]

Cambodia/Thailand, Border Conflict around the Temple of Preah Vihear

Mali, Destruction of World Cultural Heritage

Iran, Victim of Cyber warfare

The armed conflict in Syria

Libya, NATO Intervention 2011

Libya, Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (2014/15)

Mali, Accountability for the Destruction of Cultural Heritage

Iraq, Forced displacement and deliberate destruction

Iraq: Situation of Internally Displaced Persons

Syria, Report by UN Commission of Inquiry (March 2017)

Afghanistan, Bombing of a Civilian Truck

Syria, the Battle for Aleppo

ICRC, Statement - War in Cities ; What is at Stake?

Iraq, The Battle for Mosul

Eastern Ukraine, Attacks Against and Military Use of Schools

Eastern Ukraine, OHCHR Report on the Situation: November 2016 - February 2017

South Sudan, Attack in Malakal UN Protection Site

Central African Republic/Democratic Republic of Congo/Uganda, LRA attacks

Central African Republic, Coup d'Etat

Central African Republic, No Class: When Armed Groups Use Schools

Somalia, IHL violations in Somalia's long-running armed conflict

South Sudan, Activities of Oil Companies

Somalia/Kenya, Al-Shabab Attacks

Somalia/US, Airstrikes in Somalia

Israel/Occupied Palestinian Territory, Occupation and Natural Resources

Mexico, Recapture of Ovidio Guzmán, One of the Leaders of the Sinaloa Cartel


Suggested readings:

GEHRING Robert W., “Protection of Civilian Infrastructures”, in Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 42/2, 1978, pp. 86-139   JIA Bing Bing, “‘Protected Property’ and its Protection in International Humanitarian Law”, in LeidenJournal of International Law, Vol. 15/1, 2002, pp. 131-153.   SASSÒLI Marco & CAMERON Lindsey, “The Protection of Civilian Objects Current State of the Law and Issues de Lege Ferenda”, in RONZITTI Natalino & VENTURINI Gabriella (eds), Current Issues in the International Humanitarian Law of Air Warfare, Utrecht, Eleven, 2005, pp. 35-74.