Weapons Law Encyclopedia

Started in December 2012

Armed violence, in both conflict and non-conflict settings, takes a severe human toll. The use of different technologies of violence – guns, bombs, mines, rockets or incendiary projectiles, to mention but a few – is associated with distinct patterns of harm. To alleviate the suffering of war victims and protect civilians from harm, some weapons have been outlawed.

The use of certain other weapons has been restricted by international treaties. Yet, most weapons commonly used by police or military forces are not specifically regulated. In the absence of a weapons treaty, there is insufficient consensus concerning which weapons violate the customary international humanitarian law rules prohibiting the use of indiscriminate weapons or weapons of a nature to cause superfluous injury. And what international human rights law, including standards on the use of force, implies for the legality of particular weapons is, as yet, ill-understood.

A better understanding of the legal regulation of weapons under international law can contribute to a more faithful implementation of international legal obligations regarding weapons. It can also promote a more coherent approach to international weapons regulation, with a view to reducing the humanitarian impact of armed violence.

The Weapons Law Enyclopedia (WLE) is a pioneering online compilation of information, accessible to non-specialists, on weapon technologies, the humanitarian impacts of their use, and their regulation under public international law.

RESEARCHER

Picture of Maya Brehm

Maya Brehm

Publications

Cover of the book Weapons under International Human Rights Law

Weapons under International Human Rights Law

July 2015

Stuart Casey-Maslen

Cambridge University Press

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Cover of the Briefing No8: Autonomous Weapons Systems Under International Law

Briefing N°8: Autonomous Weapons Systems Under International Law

November 2014

Milena Costas Trascasas, Nathalie Weizmann

Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

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MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

An ex-combatant holds up munitions in Attécoubé, Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire. He is one of several to have participated in a Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) operation conducted in the area by the UN mission, UNOCI. News

Disarmament And Today's Threats

May 2017

Our Executive Manager, Kamelia Kemileva, will participate on Wednesday, 10 May 2017 at lunchtime in a debate at the United Nations Office at Geneva on disarmament and today’s threats.

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News

Autonomous Weapon Systems: Legality under International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

May 2017

Our new publication Defending the Boundary analyses the constraints and requirements on the use of autonomous weapon systems (AWS), also called ‘killer robots’, under international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

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doption of the Arms Trade Treaty by the UN General Assembly, 2 April 2013 Project

The Arms Trade Treaty

Completed in January 2013

The Geneva Academy team followed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations and provided key information on the negotiations, notably via a daily blog.

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Police intervention during a demonstration Project

Non-Kinetic-Energy Weapons

Completed in January 2009

Non-kinetic-energy (NKE) weapons inflict harm through the emission of different forms of radiation or sound, diffusion of chemical or biological agents or transmission of electricity, rather than the application of kinetic energy possessed by a fragment, bullet or other projectile.

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