IRRC No. 901

Minimizing civilian harm in populated areas: Lessons from examining ISAF and AMISOM policies

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Both the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) – the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's security assistance mission to Afghanistan – have recognized the importance of reducing civilian harm, and adopted policies and practices that restrict the use of certain weapons in populated areas. ISAF commanders issued a number of tactical directives that restricted the use of certain air-delivered weapons, and AMISOM developed an indirect fire policy limiting the use of artillery and other indirect fire munitions in populated areas. This article examines both ISAF and AMISOM policies and practices to reduce civilian harm in populated areas and explores how these policies strengthened adherence to international humanitarian law and illustrated new ways in which armed actors can take feasible precautions and prioritize civilian protection.

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