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The Human Dimension of International LawSelected Papers of Antonio Cassese$
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Antonio Cassese, Paola Gaeta, and Salvatore Zappalà

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199232918

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199232918.001.0001

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The Prohibition of Indiscriminate Means of Warfare

The Prohibition of Indiscriminate Means of Warfare

8. The Prohibition of Indiscriminate Means of Warfare
The Human Dimension of International Law

Antonio Cassese

Oxford University Press

It is common knowledge that all weapons can be used indiscriminately, i.e. in such a way as to strike combatants and civilians alike. There are, however, some weapons that are by their nature incapable of being directed with any certainty at specific military objectives, or which in their typical or normal use are not delivered with any certainty to such targets. Although as a result of technological advances there is now a tendency to manufacture more and more accurate and ‘discriminate’ weapons (such as the so-called ‘smart’ bombs, ‘tactical’ nuclear bombs, etc.) most States still have in their arsenals, and often use, means of destruction that are ‘blind’, in that they do not differentiate between military and civilian objectives. This chapter considers to what extent current international law protects civilians against the use of these weapons, and the trends which are discernible in the new law that States are now endeavouring to draft at the Geneva Diplomatic Conference on the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts.

Keywords:   warfare, indiscriminate weapons, civilian protection, Geneva Diplomatic Conference, Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflicts, international law

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