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21. Inhumane conventional weapons: efforts to strengthen the constraints




The 1981 'Inhumane Weapons' Convention (or Convention on Certain Conventional
Weapons, CCW Convention) restricts the use of conventional weapons which are
particularly cruel and directly affect the civilian population. Its provisions,
especially those regarding mines, have proved ineffective. The mines--mostly
anti-personnel mines--planted in many countries kill and maim thousands of
non-combatants and render entire regions uninhabitable. To reinforce the
constraints, a CCW Convention Review Conference will be held in the autumn of
1995. The experts preparing the Conference recognized the need to ban the use
of anti-personnel mines which are not equipped with detectable elements and
self-destructing mechanisms. However, the new restrictions would not apply to
mines placed within marked and guarded minefields. Moreover, any party would be
relieved from compliance in situations where military action makes it
impossible to comply. This escape clause could bring to nothing all the
constraints. Nor is it likely that all transfers of anti-personnel mines will
be banned. The expected meagre results of the forthcoming Review Conference
could be offset, at least to some degree, by the prohibition on the use of
laser weapons to blind persons, a particularly abhorrent method of warfare.