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On the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons

In May 1971, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) convened the first session of the Conference of Government Experts on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts. The second session of this conference, which was open to all the States Parties to the Geneva Conventions, was convened a year later. At the 1972 session, the experts of 19 governments submitted a written proposal suggesting that the ICRC should consult experts on the problem of the use of certain conventional weapons. Pursuant to this recommendation, a working group of experts met twice in 1973, and later that year issued its report, entitled Weapons that May Cause Unnecessary Suffering or Have Indiscriminate Effects. The majority of this report, the full text of which is linked below, is characterized as “documentary” and focuses on a description of the relevant contemporary weapons and their effects on the human body. The report also surveys the existing legal limitations regarding the use of specific weapons, and describes briefly all the major categories of weapons, discussing their military applications in relation to the concept of indiscriminateness.

Representatives to the 1972 conference also requested that the question of conventional weapons be addressed at a separate meeting. To comply with this request, the ICRC convened, in two sessions —1974 and 1976 —the Conference of Government Experts on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons. The purpose of the conference was “to study in depth, from the humanitarian standpoint, the question of the prohibition or limitation of the use of conventional weapons that may cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects.” The two conference proceedings reports, linked below, include a discussion and analysis of proposed legal criteria, discussion and evaluation of specific categories of weapons, e.g., small-calibre projectiles and incendiary weapons, and a summary of the work of sub-groups that addressed these issues.

To view the PDF files, click the images or titles below.

Conference of Government Experts . . . 1974Weapons that may Cause Unnecessary Suffering . . . Conference of Government Experts . . . 1976
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LC Call Number
OCLC Number
1. Weapons that may Cause Unnecessary Suffering or have Indiscriminate Effects, 1973 313441943
2. Conference of Government Experts on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, 1974

469711016
3. Conference of Government Experts on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, 1976 312766052
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  July 16, 2010
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