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Declaration:

1. The Government of New Zealand notes that the majority of the war crimes specified in article 8 of the Rome Statute, in particular those in article 8 (2) (b) (i)-(v) and 8 (2) (e) (i)-(iv) (which relate to various kinds of attacks on civilian targets), make no reference to the type of the weapons employed to commit the particular crime. The Government of New Zealand recalls that the fundamental prinicple that underpins international humanitarian law is to mitigate and circumscribe the cruelty of war for humanitarian reasons and that, rather than being limited to weaponry of an earlier time, this branch of law has evolved, and continues to evolve, to meet contemporary circumstances. Accordingly, it is the view of the Government of New Zealand that it would be inconsistent with principles of international humanitarian law to purpot to limit the scope of article 8, in particular article 8(2) (b), to events that involve conventional weapons only.

2. The Government of New Zealand finds support for its view in the Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (1996) and draws attention to paragraph 86, in particular, where the Court stated that the conclusion that humanitarian law did not apply to such weapons "would be incompatible with the intrinsically humanitarian character of the legal principles in question which permeates the entire law of armed conflict and applies to all forms of warfare and to all kinds of weapons, those of the past, those of the present and those of the future."

3. The Government of New Zealand further notes that international humanitarian law applies equally to aggressor and defender states and its application in a particular context is not dependent on a determination of whether or not a state is acting in self-defence. In this respect it refers to paragraphs 40-42 of the Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons Case."

07.10.1998

07.09.2000

07.09.2000