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Belgium: Experts debate the regulation of weapons in warfare

17-10-2007 News Release 07/105

Brussels (ICRC) – The use of weapons such as cluster munitions and anti-personnel mines, and their regulation under international humanitarian law (IHL), will be the focus of this year's Bruges Colloquium in Belgium.

Organized by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the College of Europe, the event will be held from 18 to 19 October. It will bring together experts from government offices, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and universities to discuss achievements and challenges in this evolving field.

Ongoing efforts to prohibit the use of cluster munitions and to develop an international treaty on the arms trade will be debated, along with ways of ensuring that the use of new technologies, such as " non-lethal " weapons, falls within the law. 

In order to protect civilians and limit the risk of unnecessary suffering among combatants, IHL restricts the types of weapon and means of warfare allowed in armed conflict.

Participants will also discuss progress made towards eliminating the suffering caused by anti-personnel mines as the international community marks the 10th anniversary of the Ottawa treaty, which prohibits the use of these weapons.

" Ever since States agreed to prohibit anti-personnel mines and address the post-conflict consequences of explosive remnants of war, significant progress has been made in protecting civilians from the effects of certain weapons, " says Françoise Krill, the head of the ICRC's delegation to the European Union and NATO in Brussels.

" However, a lot remains to be done in order to ensure that this commitment is honoured and to address other, equally serious humanitarian concerns, such as the use of inaccurate and unreliable cluster munitions and the widespread availability of weapons, " she adds.

The ICRC and the College of Europe have been holding annual colloquiums on IHL since 2000, within the framework of EU and NATO activities (additional details on: ).  
For further information, please contact:
  Thomas Vanden Driessche, ICRC Brussels, tel. +32 2 286 58 70 or +32 479 22 68 61
  Caroline Vandenbussche, College of Europe, tel. +32 50 477 123
  Claudia McGoldrick, ICRC Geneva, tel. + 41 22 730 2063 or +4179 217 3216