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Conflict without casualties… a note of caution: non-lethal weapons and international humanitarian law

30-06-2012 Article, International Review of the Red Cross, No. 886, by Eve Massingham


In the last decade considerable expense has been invested in non-lethal weapons development programmes, including by the United States military and other members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and members of the European Working Group Non-Lethal Weapons. This paper acknowledges the potential suitability of non-lethal weapons for specific situations arising on the battlefield, but cautions against those who advocate for any weakening of existing international humanitarian law frameworks to provide for greater employment of non-lethal technologies. 

Key words: non-lethal weapons, distinction, proportionality, precaution.


Eve Massingham is an international humanitarian law officer with the Australian Red Cross. She has completed studies in law, international law, and international development.