Department of Defense Law of War Manual
General Counsel of the Department of Defense Washington United States
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Purpose. The purpose of this manual is to provide 1.1.1 information on the law of war to DoD personnel responsible for implementing the law of war and executing military operations.1 This manual represents the legal views of the Department of Defense. This manual does not, however, preclude the Department from subsequently changing its interpretation of the law. Although the preparation of this manual has benefited from the participation of lawyers from theDepartment of State and the Department of Justice, this manual does not necessarily reflect the views of any other department or agency of the U.S. Government or the views of the U.S. Government as a whole. This manual is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive orprocedural, enforceable at law or in equity against the United States, its departments, agencies, or other entities, its officers or employees, or any other person. 1.1.2 Scope. This manual is not a definitive explanation of all law of war issues. This manual focuses on jus in bello law relating to the conduct of hostilities and the protection of war victims. This manual seeks to address the law of war that is applicable to the United States, including treaties to which the United States is a Party, and applicable customary international law. It provides legal rules, principles, and discussion, particularly with respect to DoD practice. Although the views of other States may be referenced in this manual, it is not a purpose of this manual to describe the views of other States, which may differ from views expressed in this manual. This manual is not a substitute for the careful practice of law. As specific legal issues arise, legal advisers should consider relevant legal and policy materials e.g., treaty provisions, judicial decisions, past U.S. practice, regulations, and doctrine, and should apply the law to thespecific factual circumstances.