- The Hague Conventions of 1899 or 1907
- Chemical Weapon Convention
- several of the Geneva Conventions
- Biological Weapon Convention
- The Geneva Protocol
- The Convention on Certain Weapons
There are several categories of weapons which are forbidden from use (note, that none of these treaties name specific weapons, only categories).
- Poisoned weapons
- Weapons which cause excessive pain or superfluous injury ( the modern definition here is those weapons which cause more injury than minimally required to incapacitate)
- Any weapon employed on or by a vessel, vehicle, or individual carrying the Red Cross or Red Crescent mark. (The Red Cross/Crescent is a universally protected sign, and no weapon may be used for any purpose either by something carrying that sign, or against one marked with the sign).
- Use of gases which cause asphyxiation or severe injury
- Bullets which cause excessive injury, especially those of an explosive or expanding nature (hollow-points).
- Any biological or chemical weapon
- Laser weapons intended to blind
- Weapons which produce fragments not detectable by X-rays
- Land mines which do no automatically self-destruct after a limited time period, or which are constructed of materials not detectable by normal methods (e.g. plastics)
Certain weapons which might be perceived to be covered under the above generalization are not usually considered banned, or are restricted according to their use.
- Tear gas and similar gases which produce mild and temporary effects are generally not considered a Chemical weapon.
- Incendiary weapons (napalm, flamethrowers, thermite, white phosphorous, etc.) are not banned, but are banned in their use on or near civilians.
- Genetic weapons (those tailored to affect only certain peoples of a specific genetic makeup) are considered to be banned, though inferentially, under the Biological Weapons Convention.
- Use of weapons such as those made from Depleted Uranium which have a possible localized toxic side effect are permitted.
In addition, the Ottawa Treaty (Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction) bans all land mines. This will cover most of the world, though there are several major non-signatories.
The new Convention on Cluster Munitions will take affect in 2010, and ban all cluster bombs and similar weapons which do not meet very strict requirements of size, ability to be detected, and other limits. This treaty currently has a limited number of signatories, though it is expected to grow slowly.
Nick Harvey, Britain’s armed forces minister, said it was “highly likely” that the International Criminal Court would seek the arrest of Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s president, over his role in the violent crackdown on protesters.
Mr Harvey’s comments came after the ICC announced it would be seeking the arrest of Muammer Gaddafi, the Libyan leader, along with his son and intelligence chief, accusing them of crimes against humanity.
Britain has so far not called for Mr Assad to step down, but has demanded his regime halt its violence.
The minister’s comments came as Syrian activists reported the discovery of a mass grave outside the town of Dera’a, which has been the focus of an intense military crackdown.
Video footage was circulated on YouTube on Monday apparently showing several corpses unearthed from the ground near the town. According to Radwan Ziadeh, a human rights advocate and scholar at the George Washington University in the US, the footage was taken on Monday morning near Dera’a. He said many other bodies were buried in the same site, including five members of the same family.
The army sent tanks into Dera’a on April 25, and communications with the town have since been cut off for most of the time.
It is not possible to independently verify the authenticity of the footage, but persistent reports have surfaced from Dera’a of a high level of killing and of bodies being taken away by security services.
Syrian tanks were reported to have entered an area near the Lebanese border on Monday. Twelve people have been killed by the army in the border town of Tel Khalakh, say activists.
Syrian media said armed groups in the area killed five soldiers.
Syria has been rocked by 2 months of unprecedented popular protests against corruption, the security services, and, increasingly, the regime itself. The government initially offered concessions, dismissed by most analysts as cosmetic, and then pursued a strategy of overwhelming force, killing over 700 and arresting thousands.
After the crackdown failed to stop protests, however, the regime now appears to be hoping to pursue a negotiated solution, announcing on Friday that it would hold a “national dialogue.”
The White House accused the Syria on Monday of inciting deadly border clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian demonstrators, saying Damascus was trying to distract attention from its own violent crackdown on protests.
White House spokesman Jay Carney expressed regret for the loss of life in confrontations on Israel’s frontiers with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza on Sunday but said the Jewish state “has the right to prevent unauthorised crossing at its borders”.
“We urge maximum restraint on all sides,” Carney told reporters on Air Force One as Barack Obama, the US president, flew to Tennessee. FT
The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the ongoing incommunicado and arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, former MENA Director at Front Line and former President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR).
According to the information received, as of May 5, 2011, Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja remained detained but his whereabouts as well as official charges pending against him remained unknown. His lawyer is the only person who could have access to him on April 29 and 30, 2011. These two meetings of several hours were held in the presence of the Military Prosecutor. In addition, no information could be obtained regarding Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja’s physical condition, although witnesses claim to have seen him in a military hospital in a very bad state.
The Observatory recalls that Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja was brutally arrested on April 9, 2011, and witnesses present during his arrest declared that he was taken unconscious after having been violently beaten (See background information).
The Observatory firmly denounces the violation of the rights to due process and fair trial by the Bahraini authorities, the incommunicado and arbitrary detention of Mr. Abdulhadi Al Khawaja and as well as the judicial harassment against him, which seem to merely aim at sanctioning his human rights activities. The Observatory is also deeply concerned for his physical and psychological integrity as it is feared that he might be subjected to torture and acts of ill-treatments in the framework of incommunicado detention, in a context where four people arrested during the protests have died in custody between April 3 and 12, 2011 and dozens of detained activists complained of acts of torture and ill-treatment.