Practice Relating to Rule 70. Weapons of a Nature to Cause Superfluous Injury or Unnecessary Suffering
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) provides:
It is prohibited to employ weapons, projectiles and material of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering. A weapon causes unnecessary suffering when in practice it inevitably causes injury or suffering disproportionate to its military effectiveness. In determining the military effectiveness of a weapon one looks at the primary purpose for which it was designed.
The manual further states:
Examples of such weapons include such weapons as lances with a barbed head, irregularly-shaped bullets, projectiles filled with broken glass, and the like. The scoring of the surface of bullets, the filing off of the end of their hard case, and the smearing on them of any substance likely to inflame a wound, are also prohibited. Generally speaking, weapons which are agreed to cause unnecessary suffering are home-made weapons or unofficial modifications of weapons issued through normal channels.
Lastly, the manual states that “employing arms or other weapons which are calculated to cause unnecessary suffering” constitutes a war crime.
Under New Zealand’s International Crimes and ICC Act (2000), war crimes include the crimes defined in Article 8(2)(b)(xx) of the 1998 ICC Statute.
In 1974, during discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee on Conventional Weapons established by the CDDH, New Zealand stated:
It was difficult to determine criteria for unnecessary suffering, except in the case of the indiscriminate use of weapons. One should not fall into the error of giving preference to weapons that killed cleanly rather than to weapons that wounded but did not kill.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case
in 1995, New Zealand stated, with reference to customary international law: “It is prohibited to use weapons or tactics that cause unnecessary or aggravated devastation and suffering.”