IRRC No. 246
Synopsis II: Protection of Civilian Populations against the Effects of Hostilities
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Customary law concerning the protection of civilian populations against the effects of hostilities is essentially based on the rules of the law of The Hague. The general principle underlying it is set out in the Declaration of St. Petersburg (1868) which states “that the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy”.