Use of Certain Conventional Weapons
First Session held in Lucerne, Switzerland
24 September–18 October 1974
The first session of the Conference of Government Experts, attended by the representatives of forty-nine States as well as representatives from national liberation movements, international organizations, non-governmental organizations and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, continued the work of the 1973 expert meeting. Using the 1973 ICRC report as one of its starting points, the Conference sought to provide additional information and to examine further the question of prohibiting or limiting the use of certain weapons that may cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects. Discussion on the possibility of formulating prohibitions or restrictions on the use of certain types of weapons also took place. Of particular interest is the opinion of some experts that certain types of anti-personnel mines ought to be banned because of their inherently indiscriminate nature and effects. Reproduced here are two chapters of the report: chapter II on the legal criteria, and chapter VI on delayedaction and treacherous weapons.
16. The Conference started its work with a debate on legal criteria. The purpose of this debate was to clarify as far as possible the criteria, and this in the presence of the military and medical experts, who would thereby, so it was hoped, gain a better understanding of the factors determining the admissibility or non-admissibility of weapons falling within the scope of their expert knowledge. In this respect, some expert lawyers felt a need for legal parameters far more accurate than the criteria presently existing or being envisaged, so that their application to a given weapon could be performed almost as a mechanical task. Others, who were convinced that such precise parameters would be impossible to achieve, would be satisfied, more modestly, if the debate brought out at least some degree of clarification. Others, again, while accepting that such an attempt at clarification would serve a useful purpose, emphasized that there would always be room for an assessment of weapons and their effect regardless of pre-existing or pre-formulated legal criteria.