Means of warfare refers to the weapons and weapon systems by means of which violence is exercised against the enemy.
Any item of equipment supplied by States or armed groups to their armed forces or members so that in an armed conflict they can take violent action against the enemy, and whose use, within the limits justified by military necessity and the rules of international humanitarian law, is legitimate in time of war.
Weapons may be classified according to their nature and effects.
International humanitarian law

  1. states that the right of the parties to the conflict to choose methods or means of warfare is not unlimited and that in the study, development, acquisition or adoption of a new weapons a party is under an obligation to determine whether its employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited;
  2. prohibits weapons of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or having excessively injurious or indiscriminate effects.

The use of certain weapons is prohibited or restricted. It is, however, impossible to dissociate the lawfulness or unlawfulness of weapons from the lawfulness or unlawfulness of the way they are used. This applies particularly to land, sea, and above all air bombardment. Weapons may be divided into handheld weapons for cutting, thrusting and striking, firearms and weapons of mass destruction.
See also Conventional Weapons; Incendiary weapons; Laser weapons; Remnants of war; Chemincal Weapons; Biological weapons; Chemical weapons; Nuclear weapons;



New weapons

    PI, 36




Suggested readings:
BELT Stuart Walters, “Missiles over Kosovo: Emergence, Lex Lata, of a Customary Norm Requiring the Use of Precision Munitions in Urban Areas”, in Naval Law Review, Vol. 47, 2000, pp. 115-175
BOOTHBY William H., Weapons and the Law of Armed Conflict, New York, OUP, 2009, 412 pp.
CASSESE Antonio, “Means of Warfare: The Traditional and the New Law”, in CASSESE Antonio (ed.), The New
Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict, Naples, Editoriale Scientifica, 1976, pp. 161-198
CLARK Roger S., “Building on Article 8(2)(b)(xx) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court: Weapons and Methods of Warfare”, in New Criminal Law Review, Vol. 12, No. 3, 2009, pp. 366-389.
GREENWOOD Christopher, “The Law of Weaponry at the Start of the New Millenium”, in International Law Studies, US Naval War College, Vol. 71, 1998, pp. 185-231.
ICRC, WASZINK, Camilla & COUPLAND Robin Michael, COLLEGE D’EUROPE, Current Perspectives on Regulating Means of Warfare: Proceedings of the Bruges Colloquium, 18-19 October 2007, Collegium, Nouvelles du Collège d’Europe No. 37, 2008, 168 pp.
JHA U.C., “Prohibited Weapons in Armed Conflicts”, in ISIL Year Book of International Humanitarian and Refugee Law, Vol. 4, 2004, pp. 56-78.
KALSHOVEN Frits, “Arms, Armaments and International Law”, in Collected Courses, Vol. 191, 1985, p. 183-341.
MYJER Eric P., “Means and Methods of Warfare and the Coincidence of Norms between the Humanitarian Law of Armed Conflict and the Law of Arms Control”, in HEERE Wybo P. (ed.), International law and The Hague’s 750th anniversary, Cambridge, CUP, 1999, pp. 371-383.
PLATTNER Denise, “The 1980 Convention on Conventional Weapons and the Applicability of Rules Governing Means of Combat in a Non-International Armed Conflict”, in IRRC, No. 279, November-December 1990, pp. 551-564.
TURNS David, “Weapons in the ICRC Study on Customary International Law”, in Journal of Conflict & Security Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006, pp. 201–237
TURNS David, “At the ‘Vanishing Point’ of International Humanitarian Law: Methods and Means of Warfare in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, German Yearbook of International Law = Jahrbuch für Internationales Recht, Vol. 45, 2002, pp. 115-148.
Further readings:
BREHM Maya, “The Arms Trade and State’s Duty to Ensure Respect for Humanitarian and Human Rights Law”, in Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 12, Number 3, 2007, pp. 359-387.
DAOUST Isabelle, COUPLAND Robin & HISHOEY Rikke, “New Wars, New Weapons?: The Obligation of States to Assess the Legality of Means and Methods of Warfare”, in IRRC, No. 846, June 2002, pp. 345-363.
FISCHER Horst, “Limitation and Prohibition of the Use of Certain Weapons in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in Yearbook of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (San Remo), 1989, pp. 117-180.
FRY James D., “Contextualized Legal Reviews for the Methods and Means of Warfare: Cave Combat and International Humanitarian Law”, in ColumbiaJournal of Transnational Law, Vol. 44, No. 2, 2006, pp. 453-519
ICRC, A Guide to Legal Review of New Weapons, Means and Methods of Warfare. Measures to Implement Art. 36, Geneva, ICRC, 2007, 34 pp.
International Institute of Humanitarian Law, The Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and International Humanitarian Law: Current Challenges, Effective Responsives, Sanremo, November 2007, 55 pp.
JENKS Chris, “Law from Above: Unmanned Aerial Systems, Use of Force, and the Law of Armed Conflict”, in North Dakota Law Review, Vol. 85, No. 3, pp. 649-671.
KAURIN Pauline, “With Fear and Trembling: an Ethical Framework for Non-Lethal Weapons”, in Journal of Military Ethics, Vol. 9, No. 1, 2010, pp. 100-114
KOPLOW David A., “ASAT-isfaction: Customary International Law and the Regulation of Anti-Satellite Weapons”, in Michigan Journal of International Law, Vol. 30, No. 4, 2009, pp. 1187-1272
KRÜGER-SPRENGEL Friedhelm, “Non-Lethal Weapons: A Humanitarian Perspective in Modern Conflict”, in RDMDG, Vol. 42/3-4, 2003, pp. 357-377.
LAWAND Kathleen, “Reviewing the Legality of New Weapons, Means and Methods of Warfare”, in IRRC, December 2006, pp. 925-930.
McCELLAND Justin, “The Review of Weapons in Accordance with Article 36 of Additional Protocol I, in IRRC, No. 850, June 2003, pp. 397-415.
O’CONNELL Mary Ellen, “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones: a Case Study of Pakistan, 2004-2009, in Notre Dame Law School Legal Studies Research Paper, No. 09-43, 2009, 26 pp.
PUCKETT Christopher, “Comment: In This Era of ’Smart Weapons’, is a State under an International Legal Obligation to Use Precision-Guided Technology in Armed Conflict?”, in Emory International Law Review, Vol. 18, 2004, pp. 645-723.
SANDOZ Yves, Des armes interdites en droit de la guerre, Thesis, Geneva, Imp. Grounauer, 1975, 137 pp.
TURNS David, “Weapons in the ICRC Study on Customary International Law”, in Journal of Conflict & Security Law, Vol. 11, No. 2, 2006, pp. 201-237.