Practice Relating to Rule 84. The Protection of Civilians and Civilian Objects from the Effects of Incendiary Weapons
Canada’s LOAC Manual (1999) restates the definition of incendiary weapons and the restrictions concerning their application contained in Articles 1 and 2 respectively of the 1980 Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
Canada’s LOAC Manual (2001) states in its chapter on targeting:
It is prohibited to make forests or other kinds of plant cover the object of attack by incendiary weapons except when such natural elements are used to cover, conceal or camouflage combatants or other military objectives, or are themselves military objectives.
In its chapter entitled “Restrictions on the use of weapons”, the manual states that “it is prohibited in all circumstances to make the civilian population, individual civilians or civilian objects the object of attack by incendiary weapons”.
In defining incendiary weapons, the manual restates the provisions contained in Article 1 of the 1980 Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons:
1. Incendiary weapons include any weapon or munitions that is designed to set fire to objects or to cause burn injury to humans through the action of flame, heat or a combination of the two caused by a chemical reaction of a substance delivered on a target. Examples of incendiary weapons include napalm, flame-throwers, shells, rockets, grenades, mines, bombs and other containers of incendiary materials.
2. Incendiary weapons do not include:
a. munitions which have incidental incendiary effects (for example, illuminants, tracers, smoke or signalling devices); or
b. munitions designed to combine penetration, blast or fragmentation effects with an additional incendiary effect (for example, armour piercing projectiles, fragmentation shells, explosive bombs and similar combined effects ammunition) in which the incendiary effect is not specifically designed to cause burn injury to humans, but to be used against military objectives such as armoured vehicles, aircraft and installations and facilities.
[emphasis in original]
Upon ratification of the 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Canada stated:
With respect to Protocol III, it is the understanding of the Government of Canada that the expression “clearly separated” in paragraph 3 of Article 2 includes both spatial separation or separation by means of an effective physical barrier between the military objective and the concentration of civilians.