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)
Ultimately, amid the corrupt influence of the Quintet, faithful enforcement of the Edict by the League fell by the wayside. After the destruction of the orbital infrastructure of the Manticore System without warning, the League moved to attack Manticore instead of the perpetrator of a clear Edict violation. Eventually, the League Navy itself began to flirt with violating the Edict as the war with Manticore became ever more tactically hopeless.
In essence, the Edict required star nations to take all reasonable precautions to avoid civilian deaths. Indiscriminate warfare affecting a planet’s surface or biosphere would violate the Edict and guarantee Solarian intervention on behalf of the survivors.
The Edict didn’t offer a blanket protection for noncombatants. For example, if a belligerent struck a planetary defense center located in the middle of a metropolitan area, killing many civilians, this probably would not violate the Edict “if the attacker does everything possible to restrain the effect of the attack on the population as a whole.” An orbital strike using Kinetic energy weapons on the defense center and everything within a two block radius would be allowable under the Edict. The restrictions were limited to avoiding the needless death and destruction of targets that could not threaten the attacking navy.
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 and/or rescue. 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 prior to 1921 PD. (HH8)
- Attacks on commercial operations of privately owned planets (SI1)
- Dealing with internal insurrection against planetary governments and civil war ("Shadow of Victory")
- ↑ Seven billion human beings had died in the Epsilon Eridani Massacre