Practice Relating to Rule 86. Blinding Laser Weapons
Section A. Laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness
Australia’s LOAC Manual (2006) states: “Under the 1995 Protocol IV of the CCW [1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] …, laser weapons are prohibited from use where they are specifically designed to cause permanent blindness.”
The LOAC Manual (2006) replaces both the Defence Force Manual (1994) and the Commanders’ Guide (1994).
Upon acceptance of the 1995 Protocol IV to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Australia stated: “The provisions of Protocol IV shall apply in all circumstances.”
In 1997, in its response to the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, the Australian Government stated:
There is no evidence of any actual use of blinding laser weapons. Against this background, constructing and implementing arduous verification mechanisms was not regarded as a vital element of Protocol IV to the [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. Should future developments indicate a need for verification and compliance measures, the Australian government would consider the options accordingly … In the face of the global community’s overwhelming support for the achievements of Protocol IV and the absence of any consensus on a need to tighten its provisions, the Australian Government considers the text to be essentially adequate in dealing with the limited problem at hand. However, should persuasive evidence of any substantive weaknesses emerge, the Government will, through official review processes including the Review Conference in 2001, explore options for ensuring that effect is given to the intent behind Protocol IV.