Report 57: “The need and possibility of banning explosive weapons. International Humanitarian Law and precision in old and new explosive weapons”
The war in Ukraine launched in February 2022 has focused attention on the widespread use of weapons with a specific set of characteristics to bomb military and civilian targets. It is no coincidence that many analyses of this conflict use International Humanitarian Law (IHL) to qualify the legitimacy of both side’s warfare. Many of the weapons identified in the news and expert analyses can be classified as explosive weapons, and many of these are considered obsolete, old, traditional, outdated, and lacking the technological characteristics necessary to be able to discriminate between civilians and combatants. Meanwhile, many other explosive weapons are described as fantastic technological advances
that make the side using them seem like a clean player, capable of waging war in complete respect of IHL.
This report aims to build understanding of the fact that war is not and will never be inherently different through the use of ‘old’ or ‘new’ weapons, and also that precision remains a myth aimed at legitimising military responses to conflicts between nations or states. This is not a hurdle to eliminating explosive weapons that are particularly controversial because of their limited or zero ability to discriminate between civilians and military personnel from military arsenals, as urged by the International Network on Explosive Weapons (INEW) campaign, in order to reduce the humanitarian damage caused by bombs and their consequent IHL violations.
Authors: Andrea Farrés, Pere Brunet, Camino Simarro, Virginia D’Arienzo and Jordi Calvo