These included laser weapons, microwave, infrasound, and light-flash devices, environmental warfare and electronic warfare.
The experts recognized that at that time it was too early to consider specific restrictions on devices that were only at the research stage. However, the majority stressed the importance of keeping a close watch on developments in order to introduce specific prohibitions or limitations that might be necessary before the weapon in question became widely accepted. Several experts underlined the importance of national review measures, which are now required under Article 36 of Additional Protocol I of 1977, as well as of international review measures.
As regards the futuristic weapons discussed at the Lucerne/Lugano Conference, developments in laser technology have raised the possibility of one disturbing application, namely, the use of lasers as anti-personnel weapons to damage eyesight. This matter is referred to above under the heading “Blinding weapons”.
There has also been further research into other new technologies, in particular directed energy weapons such as high-power microwave and infrasound devices. Although it may be too early to consider the need for specific regulation, it should be recognized that such future developments are subject to the standards of humanitarian law. In particular, it is important to ensure that new weapons do not have indiscriminate effects and that they do not contravene the rule prohibiting the use of weapons of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury to combatants. With regard to the interpretation of this latter rule, reference can be made to the standard on which it was originally based, namely, the provision in the 1868 St Petersburg Declaration which states that weapons which “uselessly aggravate the sufferings of disabled men or render their death inevitable” are “contrary to the laws of humanity”.
RESULTS OF THE MONTREUX SYMPOSIUM ON ANTI-PERSONNEL
The general objective of this Symposium, which was held in April 1993 Montreux, was to collect the necessary facts and ideas to coordinate future action by bodies that are interested in improving the situation of mine victims and in taking preventive action. More specifically, the aims of the Symposium were to gain as accurate a picture as possible of the actual use of mines and the consequences thereof; to analyse the mechanisms and means currently available to limit this use and to alleviate the suffering of victims, as well as to identify any lacunae in this respect; to decide on the best remedial action; to establish a strategy for coordinating the work of different bodies involved in such action; and to write a report which could be used as a reference for future measures.