Practice Relating to Rule 74. Chemical Weapons
Colombia’s Basic Military Manual (1995) states that the use of weapons which “cause unnecessary and indiscriminate, extensive, lasting and serious damage to people and the environment” is prohibited. It adds that the use of chemical weapons, as well as their production, possession and importation, is banned.
Colombia’s Operational Law Manual (2009) states:
4. Rules for the conduct of hostilities
c. Restrictions on the means and methods
The means and methods of warfare that can be used are limited. Weapons that cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering are prohibited. The general principles on the use of weapons establish that “the use of means and methods of warfare which are of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering is prohibited”. Likewise, “the use of weapons which are by nature indiscriminate is prohibited”.
In this sense, the use of the following weapons is prohibited:
- chemical weapons[.]
[footnotes in original omitted]
Colombia’s Constitution (1991) prohibits “the manufacture, import, possession, and use of chemical … weapons”.
Colombia’s Decree on the Control of Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives (1993) provides: “It is prohibited to carry devices manufactured on the basis of poisoned gases, corrosive substances or metal which by the expansion of gas produces fragments.”
In 1995, in a ruling on the constitutionality of the 1977 Additional Protocol II, Colombia’s Constitutional Court stated in relation to the prohibition on the use of weapons of a nature to cause unnecessary suffering or superfluous injury:
Although none of the treaty rules expressly applicable to internal conflicts prohibits indiscriminate attacks or the use of certain weapons, the Taormina Declaration consequently considers that the bans (established partly by customary law and partly by treaty law) on the use of chemical … weapons … apply to non-international armed conflicts, not only because they form part of customary international law but also because they evidently derive from the general rule prohibiting attacks against the civilian population.
In 1977, during a debate in the First Committee of the UN General Assembly, Colombia supported a complete ban on chemical weapons.
At the 1981 Session of the Government-Industry Conference against Chemical Weapons, Colombia stated:
The Colombian Government, as it represents a country which does not manufacture or possess, nor intends to manufacture or possess, chemical weapons, as well as other weapons of mass destruction, cannot but condemn the production, the possession, transfer and the use of such weapons.
In 1989, in reply to a note verbale of the UN Secretary-General on the subject of chemical weapons, Colombia declared that it did not possess chemical weapons.