Practice Relating to Rule 71. Weapons That Are by Nature Indiscriminate
The Russian Federation’s Military Manual (1990) provides:
Prohibited means of warfare are the various weapons of an indiscriminate character and/or those that cause unnecessary suffering:
a) bullets that expand or flatten easily in the human body;
b) projectiles used with the only purpose to spread asphyxiating or poisonous gases;
c) projectiles weighing less than 400 grammes, which are either explosive or charged with fulminating or inflammable substances;
d) poisons or poisoned weapons;
e) asphyxiating, poisonous or other similar gases and bacteriological means;
f) bacteriological (biological) and toxin weapons;
g) environmental modification techniques having widespread, long-term or serious effects as means of destruction, damage or injury;
h) all types of weapons of an indiscriminate character or that cause excessive injury or suffering.
In 1991, in a statement at the International Conference on the Protection of Victims of War, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation declared with reference to the conflict in Chechnya that in order to protect the civilian population against indiscriminate weapons, bombers, missiles, rockets, artillery shells, incendiary weapons and booby-traps should be completely banned in internal conflicts.
In 1993, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, the Russian Federation stated that “in view of the sharp increase in the scale of internal ethnic conflicts and in the bloodshed resulting therefrom,” it had put forward “an initiative to establish restrictions under international law on the use of the most destructive and indiscriminate weapons systems in those conflicts”.
In its written statement submitted to the ICJ in the Nuclear Weapons case in 1995, the Russian Federation stated:
As Hans Blix said, “it is certainly correct to say the legality of the use of most weapons depends upon the manner in which they are employed. A rifle may be lawfully aimed at the enemy or it may be employed indiscriminately against civilians and soldiers alike. Bombs may be aimed at specific military targets or thrown at random. The indiscriminate use of a weapon will be prohibited, not the weapon as such.” We should add that it is a duly qualified use rather than the use of weapons as such at large that will be regarded as illegal.
In 2011, during the UN Security Council consideration of the report of the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court on the situation in Libya, the permanent representative of the Russian Federation stated: “We are greatly alarmed by the growing number of casualties among civilians and destruction of civil facilities inflicted by the Libyan parties to the conflict, in particular due to the use of indiscriminate types of weapons.”