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Weapons and international humanitarian law

International humanitarian law - Weapons

International humanitarian law contains basic principles and rules governing the choice of weapons and prohibits or restricts the employment of certain weapons. The ICRC plays a leading role in the promotion and development of law regulating the use of certain weapons.

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Selected Topics

  • New technologies and international humanitarian law

    Technological developments have given rise to new methods and means of warfare, such as cyber attacks, armed drones and robots, raising novel humanitarian and legal challenges. When developing any new weapon, it is important that a State assess whether it complies with international humanitarian law.


  • International humanitarian law  - Weapons - Arms availability - ATT -Arms trade treaty Arms availability

    The ICRC welcomes the adoption of a comprehensive, legally binding Arms Trade Treaty that establishes common international standards for the responsible transfer of all conventional weapons and their ammunition.


  • International humanitarian law - Biological weapons Chemical and biological weapons

    The international community banned the use of chemical and biological weapons after World War I and reinforced the ban in 1972 and 1993 by prohibiting the development, production, stockpiling and transfer of these weapons. Today’s advances in life sciences and biotechnology, as well as changes in the security environment, have increased concern that long-standing restraints on the use of chemical and biological weapons may be ignored or eroded.


  • International humanitarian law - Nuclear weapons Nuclear weapons

    The ICRC calls on all States not to use nuclear weapons, to take measures to limit the risk of proliferation and to pursue negotiations on a complete ban on nuclear weapons and their elimination.


  • International humanitarian law - Weapons - Cluster munitions Cluster munitions

    In 2008, governments adopted the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which have killed and injured large numbers of civilians. This treaty prohibits the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions.


  • International humanitarian law - Weapons - Anti-personnel-landmines Anti-personnel landmines

    Despite progress made since the adoption of the 1997 Mine Ban treaty, many challenges remain, especially linked to removing the remaining mines and to providing adequate assistance for those injured.


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