Practice Relating to Rule 86. Blinding Laser Weapons
Section A. Laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness
Germany’s IHL Manual (1996) states:
New weapon developments may also violate a specific prohibition or general principles of international humanitarian law, e.g. the use of laser weapons which are specifically intended to cause permanent blindness to the adversary.
In 1995, the German Government expressed its support for a prohibition on the use and production of blinding laser weapons.
In August 1995, in answer to questions in Parliament, a minister of state noted that the government knew of no German companies that were involved in the development or testing of blinding laser weapons. He added that blinding laser weapons were not part of NATO planning, that the German Department of Defence had never placed an order for the development or purchasing of such weapons and that it did not intend to do so in the future.
At the First Review Conference of States Parties to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (First Session) in 1995, Germany stated: “While the review of Protocol II was the top priority of the Conference, other conventional weapons which were excessively injurious or might have indiscriminate effects should not be ignored.” Therefore Germany was strongly in favour of prohibiting blinding laser weapons.
Upon acceptance of the 1995 Protocol IV to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, Germany declared that “it will apply the provisions of Protocol IV under all circumstances and at all times”.