The United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) has banned or restricted many weapons in war.
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For thousands of years, rules have been in place to regulate the types of weapons used in battle; for example, in Ancient Greece, the use of poison in armed combat was prohibited (pdf below).
International agreements to legally regulate the types of weapons that are permissible (and banned) in wars around the world were not created until the 19th century.
According to international humanitarian laws established in the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), the following weapons are banned or prohibited in combat.
CCW and The Five Protocols
The CCW, sometimes known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention, is a treaty that prohibits the use of weapons that are excessively cruel and inhumane.
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The agreement now has 125 State Parties, with signatures from an additional four states.
Five protocols are outlined in the CCW that restrict or limit the use of the following weapons:
- Non-detectable fragments: weapons specially designed to shatter into tiny pieces, which aren’t detectable in the human body. Examples are fragmented bullets or projectiles filled with broken glass.
- Mines, booby traps, and other devices: This includes anti-personnel mines, which are mines specially designed to target humans rather than tanks.
- Incendiary weapons: Weapons that cause fires aren’t permitted for use on on civilian populations or in forested areas.
- Blinding lasers: Laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness.
- Explosive remnants of war: Parties that have used cluster bombs in combat are required to help clear any unexploded remains.
It’s worth noting that the use of cluster bombs is not expressly prohibited by the CCW. However, under separate legislation known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) , their usage and production are prohibited.
The CCW still lacks enforcement methods and systems to deal with any violations of the agreement.
The Chemical Weapons Convention
The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which prohibits the production, acquisition, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons by State Parties, is another international treaty aimed at limiting the use of excessively dangerous weapons.
The CWC has been signed by 193 states, with one additional state (Israel) having signed but not yet made it official.
Syria signed the pact in 2013, but UN human rights investigators have found that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on many occasions during its civil war.
Is Russia Using Prohibited Weapons in Ukraine?
Russia has been accused of using many weapons prohibited by international treaties in the present conflict between Russia and Ukraine, including cluster bombs and explosive weapons. Bonnie Docherty, a Harvard Law professor, explains why these weapons are so dangerous:
- They scatter submunitions over vast areas of land, meaning they can hit unintended targets
- Many don’t explode and end up laying dormant for years
According to Human Rights Watch, Russia has used cluster bombs in many locations of Ukraine, including Mykolaiv, a densely populated city, and Solyani, a suburb immediately outside of Mykolaiv.
AI in Weapons and Warfare
Certain regulations and limits in the CCW have been revised and changed over the previous few decades in response to societal changes and technology advancements.
As military weapons develop and commercial drone technology becomes more commonplace, effective legislation regarding drone usage in conflict may become vital.
There is currently no international law prohibiting the use of drones in combat. Several global defense corporations, on the other hand, are springing up to try to counter these new military technologies. The global addressable market for anti-drone and tracking systems is projected to be around $10 billion.
Read the document on the convention on prohibitions or restrictions of conventional weapons: