Five Types of Prohibited Weapons During Armed Conflicts

Prohibitions established by the United Nations Convention.

11/08/2023 - 23:15

You may not be aware, but according to a special United Nations Convention, certain types of weapons are forbidden to be used during armed conflicts. Learn about these prohibited weapon types in this article by correspondent.

The fundamental principles are enshrined in the United Nations Convention on "The Prohibition or Restriction of the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects." Kazakhstan became a signatory to this Convention in 2009.

Explosive Munitions weighing up to 400 grams

The prohibition of using these explosive munitions in armed conflicts marked one of history's earliest instances. Explosive munitions causing undue suffering were banned by the St. Petersburg Declaration as far back as 1968. The danger of such munitions lies in their fragmentation upon contact with the human body, resulting in excruciating pain. This ban significantly propelled the further development of international humanitarian law. Today, the declaration forms an integral part of international humanitarian law, the norms of which are binding for all states.

Poison and Poisonous Weapons

One of the oldest forms of weaponry causing suffering to the wounded. Attempts to restrict their use date back to ancient times. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans adhered to the practice of not using poison, and in India in the 5th century BCE, "Manu" laws existed that regulated rules of warfare and prohibited the use of poisonous weapons. However, the official prohibition on their use in combat was only adopted in 1899 as part of the Hague Agreement, which regulates the rules of warfare.

Invisible Shrapnel

This category includes shrapnel that cannot be detected even with X-rays, making it impossible to extract them from the human body. Examples of such projectiles include bullets or ammunition filled with broken glass, wood, or plastic. These are prohibited by the first Protocol to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons of 1980. However, 76 countries have not joined this Protocol. Among them are Iran, Indonesia, Nigeria, Morocco, and Vietnam.

Incendiary Weapons

The Convention also prohibits the use of incendiary weapons, the primary effect of which is to ignite fires (flamethrowers, incendiary bullets). Additionally, the use of incendiary bombs is prohibited in populated areas. Incendiary projectiles are produced using substances like thermite, chlorine trifluoride, and white phosphorus.

Laser Weapons

The use of laser weapons, capable of causing irreversible harm to vision, is prohibited by the fourth Protocol "on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects" of 1995. However, the use of laser weapons causing temporary blindness is permitted.

In 2017, the International Criminal Court (ICC) recognized the use of laser weapons as a war crime. Nonetheless, 85 states have chosen not to become parties to the Protocol. Among these countries are Egypt, Syria, UAE, Indonesia, and others.



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