Practice Relating to Rule 85. The Use of Incendiary Weapons against Combatants
In 1973, during a debate in the Sixth Committee of the UN General Assembly, New Zealand stated that it “believed that there was a strong case for a total prohibition of the use of napalm and other incendiary weapons”.
In 1975, during discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee on Conventional Weapons established by the CDDH, the representative of New Zealand stated:
38. … As the New Zealand delegation had already said in the United Nations General Assembly and as was also stated in [a] working paper, a rule prohibiting the use of napalm and other incendiary weapons in all circumstances was much more likely to be complied with than a restriction on particular uses …
39. So far as concerned the principle of prohibiting or restricting the use of napalm and other incendiary weapons, he recalled that on a number of occasions since 1973 his Government had stated its position, which was that, while the paramount requirement was to protect civilians, such protection should not be restricted to civilians. If the use of incendiaries was prohibited only in particular circumstances or against particular targets, there would be substantial difficulties of implementation. There was a strong case for a total prohibition of such weapons.
New Zealand’s Military Manual (1992) states:
There are no provisions on the use of incendiaries against combatants in [the 1980 Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The use of incendiary weapons to cause unnecessary suffering is prohibited. A value judgement must be made in particular circumstances to determine whether or not the suffering caused is unnecessary.
The manual also recalls that:
The UN Conference which negotiated the [1980 Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] was unable to agree on any requirement to protect combatants from the effects of incendiary weapons.