New weapons and the law
08-02-2001 News Release 01/05
The ICRC has held a meeting of experts to discuss the means used to wage war. Gathering in Jongny-sur-Vevey, Switzerland from 29 to 31 January, they addressed the issue of how governments could best implement their international obligation to review the legality of arms which they intend to develop, manufacture, acquire or deploy.
" Only a limited number of States worldwide have procedures for ensuring that the weapons they develop or acquire comply with international humanitarian law, " said Peter Herby, coordinator of the ICRC Mines-Arms Unit. The States party to the Geneva Conventions and to their Additional Protocols have an obligation to adopt internal procedures to determine whether a weapon or other means or method of warfare which they wish to acquire would be prohibited by the law, he said. " It is important that governments take into account a number of factors, including the effects on human health of the weapons being considered. "
The 50 governmental experts were joined by representatives of the Red Cross Societies of Australia, Denmark and Norway as well as the ICRC itself. They stressed the importance of promoting and implementing procedures to review the legality of weapons and of adopting a rigorous and multidisciplinary approach to such reviews. It was agreed that particularly stringent measures are needed regarding weapons that cause injuries about which little is known and for which treatment may be difficult or even impossible.