DECLARATION RENOUNCING THE USE, IN TIME OF
WAR, OF EXPLOSIVE PROJECTILES UNDER 400
Signed at St. Petersburg, 29 November/11 December 1868
INTRODUCTORY NOTE: The Declaration of St. Petersburg is the first formal agreement prohibiting the use of certain weapons of war. It had its origin in the invention, in 1863, by Russian military authorities of a bullet which exploded on contact with a hard substance and whose primary object was to blow up ammunition wagons. In 1867 the projectile was so modified as to explode on contact with a soft substance. As such the bullet was considered an inhuman instrument of war. The Russian Government, unwilling to use the bullet itself or to allow another country to take advantage of it, suggested that the use of the bullet be prohibited by international agreement. The Declaration to that effect, adopted in 1868, which has the force of law, confirms the customary rule according to which the use of arms, projectiles and materials of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering is prohibited. This rule was later on laid down in Article 23(e) of the Hague Regulations on land warfare of 1899 and 1907. The Declaration of St. Petersburg prompted the adoption of further declarations of a similar nature at the two Hague Peace Conferences of 1899 and 1907. The Hague Declarations relating to the discharge of projectiles and explosives from balloons, the use of asphyxiating gases and the use of expanding bullets refer in their preambles to the Declaration of St. Petersburg.
ENTRY INTO FORCE: 29 November/11 December 1868.
AUTHENTIC TEXT: French. The English translation below is reprinted from Parliamentary Papers, 1869, LXIV, p. 659.
TEXT PUBLISHED IN: Annuaire diplomatique de l'Empire de Russie pour l'année 1869, St. Petersburg, 1869, Declaration and other related documents, pp. 245-286 (French); Martens, NRGT, 1ère série, Vol. XVIII, pp. 474-475 (French); Deltenre, pp. 48-51 (Engl., French, German, Dutch); Fontes Historiae Juris Gentium, Vol. III/1, pp. 556-557 (German, English, French); International Red Cross Handbook, 1983, pp. 319-320 (Engl.); Manual de la Cruz Roja internacional, 1983, pp. 323-324 (Span.); Manuel de la CroixRouge internationale, 1983, pp. 331-332 (French); Handbook of the International Movement, 1994, pp. 296-297 (Engl.); Manuel du Mouvement international, 1994, pp. 308-309 (French); Manual del Movimiento internacional, 1994, pp. 300-301 (Span.); Parliamentary Papers, 1869, LXIV, p. 659; BFSP, Vol. 58, 1867-1868, p. 16 (French); Annuaire de l'Institut de droit international, Vol. I, 1877, pp. 306-307 (French); CTS, Vol. 138, 1868-1869, pp. 297-299 (French); Higgins, pp. 5-7 (Engl.); AJIL, Vol. 1, 1907, Suppl., pp. 95-96 (Engl.); IRRC, No. 292, November-December 1993, pp. 515-516 (Engl.); RICR, No. 804, novembre–décembre 1993, pp. 543-544 (French); Revista internacional de la Cruz Roja, No. 120, noviembre–diciembre de 1993, pp. 543-544 (Span.); Friedman, pp. 192-193 (Engl.); Roberts and