The Banning of Anti-Personnel Landmines: The Legal Contribution of the International Committee of the Red Cross

By Louis Maresca; Stuart Maslen | Go to book overview
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The ICRC's draft rules to protect civilian populations
1955–1956

As early as the 1950s the ICRC identified the landmine as a weapon of special concern. One of the first efforts to limit the consequences of landmines was the ICRC's Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers Incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War published in 195620 (referred to below as 1956 Draft Rules). These rules were issued in response to developments in armaments and military doctrine, and the widespread injury and damage to civilian populations during the Second World War. As international humanitarian law was founded on the fundamental distinction between combatants and non-combatants, the ICRC was concerned that the proliferation of so-called 'blind' weapons and methods of warfare, which were unable or failed to take this distinction into account, would severely undermine the protection it afforded. The 1956 Draft Rules sought to affirm and supplement many of the principles found in earlier international humanitarian law treaties.

Work on the draft rules began in April 1954 with a meeting of outside experts. Based on the results of this meeting, the ICRC prepared a first draft document entitled 'Draft Rules for the Protection of the Civilian Population from the Dangers of Indiscriminate Warfare' (referred to below as the '1955 draft') which it then submitted to National Red and Red Crescent Societies and other individuals for comment. While this draft contained regulations on means and methods of warfare, there was no specific rule on the use of landmines. The ICRC nevertheless recognized the danger that these weapons posed to civilian populations. While Article 10(3) of the 1955 draft covers the use of 'delay-action' projectiles, the ICRC in its commentary discussed the broader category of 'delay-action' weapons, including both

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20
Draft Rules for the Limitation of the Dangers Incurred by the Civilian Population in Time of War. Published by the International Committee of the Red Cross with commentary, Geneva, April 1958.

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