Rule 24. Removal of Civilians and Civilian Objects from the Vicinity of Military Objectives
Rule 24. Each party to the conflict must, to the extent feasible, remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives.
Summary
State practice establishes this rule as a norm of customary international law applicable in international, and arguably also in non-international, armed conflicts. This rule is an application of the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7). It is also related to the prohibition on using human shields (see Rule 97), as everything feasible must be done to evacuate the civilian population from the vicinity of military objectives; in no event may civilians be used to shield military objectives.
International armed conflicts
The duty of each party to the conflict, to the extent feasible, to remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives is set forth in Article 58(a) of Additional Protocol I, to which no reservations relevant to this rule have been made.[1] 
A large number of military manuals restate this obligation.[2]  It is also supported by official statements and reported practice.[3]  This practice includes that of States not, or not at the time, party to Additional Protocol I.[4] 
Non-international armed conflicts
Although Additional Protocol II does not explicitly require precautions against the effects of attacks, Article 13(1) stipulates that “the civilian population and individual civilians shall enjoy general protection against the dangers arising from military operations”.[5]  It would be difficult to afford such protection when civilian persons and objects are not removed from the vicinity of military objectives whenever feasible. The requirement to take this precaution against the effects of attacks has, moreover, been included in more recent treaty law applicable in non-international armed conflicts, namely the Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property.[6]  In addition, this rule is contained in other instruments pertaining also to non-international armed conflicts.[7] 
Military manuals which are applicable in or have been applied in non-international armed conflicts specify the duty of each party to the conflict, to the extent feasible, to remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives.[8] 
The jurisprudence of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in the Kupreškić case contains further evidence of the customary nature of the duty of each party to the conflict, to the extent feasible, to remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives in both international and non-international armed conflicts. In its judgment, the Tribunal considered that this rule was customary because it specified and fleshed out general pre-existing norms.[9]  It can be argued indeed that the principle of distinction (see Rules 1 and 7), which is customary in international and non-international armed conflicts, inherently requires respect for this rule. The Tribunal also relied on the fact that this rule had not been contested by any State.[10]  This study found no official contrary practice either.
The ICRC has reminded parties to both international and non-international armed conflicts of the obligation, to the extent feasible, to remove civilian persons and objects under their control from the vicinity of military objectives.[11] 
Interpretation
The obligation on each party to the conflict, to the extent feasible, to remove civilian persons and objects under its control from the vicinity of military objectives is particularly relevant where military objectives can not feasibly be separated from densely populated areas according to Rule 23.
This rule is also related to the prohibition of the forcible displacement of a civilian population unless its security demands that it be evacuated (see Rule 129), because it specifies that evacuation must be undertaken to the extent feasible.
According to the US Naval Handbook, “a party to an armed conflict has an affirmative duty to remove civilians under its control as well as the wounded, sick, shipwrecked, and prisoners of war from the vicinity of targets of likely enemy attacks”.[12]  The extension of this rule to the wounded, sick and shipwrecked and to prisoners of war is consistent with Rules 109–111 concerning the evacuation, care and protection of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked and with Rule 121 concerning the holding of persons deprived of their liberty in premises which are removed from the combat zone.

[1] Additional Protocol I, Article 58(a) (adopted by 80 votes in favour, none against and 8 abstentions) (cited in Vol. II, Ch. 6, § 133).
[2] See, e.g., the military manuals of Argentina (ibid., § 138), Australia (ibid., § 139), Benin (ibid., § 140), Cameroon (ibid., § 141), Canada (ibid., § 142), Croatia (ibid., § 143), Ecuador (ibid., § 144), France (ibid., § 145), Israel (ibid., § 146), Italy (ibid., § 147), Kenya (ibid., § 148), Madagascar (ibid., § 149), Netherlands (ibid., § 150), New Zealand (ibid., § 151), Nigeria (ibid., § 152), Spain (ibid., § 153), Sweden (ibid., § 154), Switzerland (ibid., § 155), Togo (ibid., § 156), United Kingdom (ibid., § 157) and United States (ibid., §§ 158–159).
[3] See, e.g., the statements of Iraq (ibid., § 164) and United States (ibid., §§ 169–172) and the reported practice of Egypt (ibid., § 163), Jordan (ibid., § 165), Kuwait (ibid., § 166), Syrian Arab Republic (ibid., § 168), United States (ibid., § 173) and Zimbabwe (ibid., § 174).
[4] See, e.g., the practice of France (ibid., § 145), Iraq (ibid., § 164), Israel (ibid., § 146), Kenya (ibid., § 148), United Kingdom (ibid., § 157) and United States (ibid., §§ 158–159 and 169–172) and the reported practice of the United States (ibid., § 173).
[5] Additional Protocol II, Article 13(1) (adopted by consensus) (ibid., § 2).
[6] Second Protocol to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property, Article 8.
[7] See, e.g., Memorandum of Understanding on the Application of IHL between Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, § 6 (ibid., § 136); Agreement on the Application of IHL between the Parties to the Conflict in Bosnia and Herzegovina, § 2.5 (ibid., § 137).
[8] See, e.g., the military manuals of Benin (ibid., § 140), Croatia (ibid., § 143), Ecuador (ibid., § 144), Italy (ibid., § 147), Kenya (ibid., § 148), Madagascar (ibid., § 149), Nigeria (ibid., § 152) and Togo (ibid., § 156).
[9] ICTY, Kupreškić case, Judgment (ibid., § 176).
[10] ICTY, Kupreškić case, Judgment (ibid., § 176).
[11] See, e.g., ICRC, Memorandum on Respect for International Humanitarian Law in Angola (ibid., § 180) and Memorandum on Compliance with International Humanitarian Law by the Forces Participating in Opération Turquoise (ibid., § 181).
[12] United States, Naval Handbook (ibid., § 159).