Practice Relating to Rule 70. Weapons of a Nature to Cause Superfluous Injury or Unnecessary Suffering
Côte d’Ivoire’s Teaching Manual (2007) provides in Book I (Basic instruction):
Lesson 1 Basic notions of IHL
The Law of War is based on three fundamental principles:
- The principle of distinction;
- The principle of limitation;
- The principle of proportionality.
The principle of limitation determines permitted means and prohibited means.
- What are the means and methods of warfare that can be used?
- The conventional weapons issued,
- What are the prohibited means and methods of warfare?
- All weapons which cause unnecessary suffering to individuals and excessive damage to populations and their goods,
For example: Anti-personnel mines, asphyxiating gases, chemical weapons, etc.
In Book III, Volume 1 (Instruction of first-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
II. The fundamental principles of IHL
Just as military operations are based on principles concerning attack, defence, withdrawal, etc., the law of armed conflicts contains a set of well-defined principles. These concrete principles reflect the realities of conflicts. They represent a balance between the principle of humanity and military necessity, and they are valid at all times, in all places, and in all circumstances. It is essential that these rules are known by all combatants. They must permanently be taken into consideration in every activity of assessment, planning, and military training or operation. The following principles can be found throughout the texts of the law of armed conflicts.
In any armed conflict, the right of the parties to choose methods and means of warfare are not unlimited; in other words, IHL limits the way in which arms and military tactics can be employed.
Arms and tactics of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are prohibited.
The aim of this principle is to prohibit weapons which cause more suffering or damage than is necessary to render enemy combatants hors de combat
. It relates, for example, to weapons designed to cause wounds impossible to treat, or which lead to a slow and cruel death. It does not prohibit weapons such as cluster weapons or ammunition designed to penetrate armour, which, even when they are correctly used, can have this type of unintentional consequence by reason of their design rather than their use.
In Book III, Volume 2 (Instruction of second-year trainee officers), the Teaching Manual provides:
I.3. War crimes
War crimes are equally violations of the laws and customs of war such as:
- employment of poisonous weapons or other weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering.
In Book IV (Instruction of heads of division and company commanders), the Teaching Manual provides:
II.2.5. Rockets, missiles and bombardments
With the arrival of modern technology, numerous armed forces now can shoot at objectives with weapons with much more precision. However, States are not limited in the use of precision weapons and munitions. An attack by release of conventional bombs is legal to the extent that the predominant principles of proportionality and superfluous injury and unnecessary suffering, as well as other pertinent rules, are not violated.
Côte d’Ivoire’s Penal Code (1981), as amended in 2015, states:
Whoever commits a war crime is punished with life imprisonment.
War crimes are:
2 - other serious violations of the laws and customs applicable in international armed conflict, within the established framework of international law, namely, any of the following acts:
- employing weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering … , provided that such weapons, projectiles and material and methods of warfare are the subject of a comprehensive prohibition and are included in an annex to the Rome Statute, by an amendment in accordance with the relevant provisions set forth in articles 121 and 123 of that Statute[.]