Practice Relating to Rule 70. Weapons of a Nature to Cause Superfluous Injury or Unnecessary Suffering
In 1974, during discussions in the Ad Hoc Committee on Conventional Weapons established by the CDDH, the representative of Poland stated:
He feared that the idea of “unnecessary suffering” might tend to restrict the future work of the Committee to weapons and methods of combat which caused physical and moral suffering, but there were weapons which could inflict extremely serious wounds which were not necessarily accompanied by unbearable suffering, such as certain chemical substances which caused death or disablement. An example was laser, which could blind anyone coming in their range of action. It was his delegation’s opinion that it was not from the point of view of those who inflicted unnecessary suffering that weapons whose use should be restricted or forbidden should be defined, but from the point of view of the victims.
In 2010, in a resolution giving its consent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to submit an objection to the reservation by the United States of America to the 1980 Protocol III to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW), Poland’s Council of Ministers stated:
The Government agrees to submit an objection to the reservation made by the United States … [in which the United States of America reserves the right to use incendiary weapons against military objectives located in concentrations of civilians where it is judged that such use would cause fewer casualties and/or less collateral damage than alternative weapons, but in so doing will take all feasible precautions with a view to limiting the incendiary effects to the military objective and to avoiding, and in any event to minimizing, incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects].
… [W]hen making the above reservation, the United States resorted to an interpretation which is contrary to the purpose of the CCW Convention and Protocol III. … International law … prohibits the use of weapons that cause unnecessary injury or excessive suffering. Therefore, as a result of the reservation made by the United States, the scope of protection of civilians provided for in Protocol III has been significantly reduced, and leads to the possibility of not only a breach of its provisions, but also a breach of fundamental norms of international law.