The Eridani Edict, or Epsilon Eridani Edict, was a unilateral prohibition passed by the Solarian League, aimed at preventing widespread slaughter of civilians. The edict laid out the exact conditions under which an attack could be made against an inhabited planet's surface, and gave the Solarian League Navy the authority to destroy "any government or star nation or rogue mercenary outfit" responsible for a violationary attack.
The Epsilon Eridani Edict was named after the Epsilon Eridani Incident. Tired of cleaning up after the atrocities of other nations, the Solarian League drafted a proposal that would lay out guidelines for attacking a planet. Due to the amount of bureaucracy and mutual veto power present in the League legislature, it would have proved impossible to pass the measure as law. Instead, the writers called for a referendum and had the Edict written in as the 97th amendment to the Solarian League constitution in 1410 PD. The Edict was perhaps the only clearly defined and immediately actionable foreign policy that the League had. (HH8)
What the Edict did was place a ban on reasonably preventable civilian deaths. Indiscriminate destruction of a planet's non-combatant population and/or ecosystem was a violation of the Edict. What the Edict did not prevent were unavoidable collateral losses when targeting legitimate military targets. For example, if a planetary defense center was located in the middle of a metropolitan area, it was no violation of the Edict to destroy it, if the attacker does everything possible to restrain the effect of the attack on the population as a whole. So a precision orbital strike that destroyed the defense center and everything within a two block radius was allowable under the Edict; indiscriminate mass bombardment or unleashing a large scale bioweapon was not.
The majority of the onus of following the Epsilon Eridani Edict lay with the attacker. First, the attacker must control the system, such that the system had no hope of relief. Second, the attacker must call upon the planet to surrender before commencing any attack or bombardment. Thus, a raiding ship was not allowed to hyper in and launch a few missiles at the planet, for it neither controlled the system nor called upon the system to surrender.
As a corollary, any accidents which resulted in massive civilian deaths were considered a violation of the Edict. The Edict assumed that any such accident was preventable and that the nation that allowed it to happen was a rogue state.
The Edict had been enforced about five times since its inception. (HH8)
There were some exceptions to the Eridani Edict:
- Attacks on commercial operations of privately owned planets (SI1)
- Dealing with insurrection against planetary governments and civil war ("Shadow of Victory")
- ↑ Seven billion human beings had died in the Epsilon Eridani Massacre