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

3
Expert contributions to the Diplomatic Conference on
the Reaffirmation and Development of International
Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts
1973–1977
In its role as depository for the Geneva Conventions, the Swiss government convened a diplomatic conference in the mid-1970s to supplement the existing international humanitarian law. The Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflicts (1974–1977) sought to increase the protection afforded to the victims of armed conflict, particularly against the effects of hostilities, and resulted in the adoption of the two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949.In preparing the drafts which were the bases for the diplomatic negotiations, the ICRC did not include prohibitions or restrictions on the use of particular weapons. Instead, because of the potentially sensitive nature of such discussions, it chose to restate the fundamental rules governing the use of weapons in earlier international humanitarian law treaties, which by this time were considered to be part of customary international law.Nonetheless, in spite of the absence of additional restrictions in the drafts, the experts of nineteen governments requested the ICRC to consult with specialists on the problem of conventional weapons which may cause unnecessary suffering or have indiscriminate effects. The purpose was to have detailed reports and information available should governments wish to address the regulation of these weapons at the Diplomatic Conference.Three expert meetings were convened between 1973 and 1976:
Expert Meeting on Weapons that may Cause Unnecessary Suffering or Have Indiscriminate Effects, held in Geneva, 26 February to 2 March and 12 to 15 June 1973;
Conference of Government Experts on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons, FIrst Session, held in Lucerne, 24 September to 18 October 1974; and

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