Skip Navigation Links The Library of Congress >> Researchers
Federal Research Division (Customized Research and Analytical Services)
  Home >> Military Legal Resources >> Geneva Conventions >> The SIrUS Project
Seal of the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's Legal Center and School
Site Map ›››

The SIrUS Project:

Towards a determination of which weapons cause "superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering"

Robin M. Coupland, Editor

Geneva, International Committee of the Red Cross, 1997

In 1997, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) initiated a program called “SIrUS,” an acronym for “superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering.” Members of the SIrUS Project—a group of experts in the fields of weapons, medicine, law, and communications—analyzed an ICRC database of war-wounded personnel to quantify certain effects of conventional weapons and used these effects to initially determine what is not superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. The experts attempted to use both the casualty survival rates off the battlefield and the seriousness of the inflicted injury, as the criteria for determining if a weapon causes unnecessary suffering. They endeavored to define four criteria that make an objective distinction between what does and what does not constitute the effects of conventional weapons, and proposed these criteria as the basis for determining which effects of weapons constitute “superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.”

Criticism of this well-intentioned, but flawed methodology—which ignored consideration, for example, of military necessity—was raised at the ICRC Meeting of Experts on the SIrUS Project in Geneva, May 10-11, 1999. Growing opposition at the XXVIIth International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—held from October 31 to November 6, 1999—led to the ICRC announcing the withdrawal of the project at the Expert Meeting on Legal Reviews of Weapons and the SIrUS Project, Jongny-sur-Vevey, January 29–30, 2001. The basic document of the SIrUS Project is linked below as fully searchable text. (OCLC Number 313441847)

To view the PDF file, click the image below.

The SIrUS Project
Top of Page Top of Page
  Home >> Military Legal Resources >> Geneva Conventions >> The SIrUS Project
  The Library of Congress >> Researchers
  July 16, 2010
Legal | External Link Disclaimer

Contact Us