- ACOUSTIC ENERGY PROPERTIES
- Target effects
-- Mild to severe discomfort
-- Organ functional disturbance
-- Organ disruption
- Propagation characteristics
-- Ground or structure penetration
-- Long-range propagation
- Sonic: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Target effects
-- Hearing interference
-- Performance degradation
-- Hearing loss
-- Tissue damage
- Propagation characteristics
-- Moderate propagation
-- Moderately directional
- Ultrasonic: 20 kHz
- Target effects
-- Possible diffuse psychological effects
-- Surface tissue damage
-- Tissue destruction
- Propagation characteristics
-- Limited propagation
-- Highly directional
- ACOUSTIC WEAPONS GRADUATED EFFECT
- Effect on personnel inherently graduated
by range and power level Detection (infrasonic/sonic) at medium to long
range Hear/feel presence of energy Annoyance, irritation, interference
with performance Infrasonic/sonic at medium power Ultrasonic at medium
to high power Pain (a) Auditory (sonic/infrasonic) at medium to high power
(b) Other organs (infrasonic/sonic/ultrasonic) at high power Incapacitation
(very high power) Death Potential as area exclusion devices
- Vortex Ring Generator Objective
- Integrate concussion, flash, chemical,
and impact methods of crowd control into a single vortex ring delivery
system, with the intent of improving nonlethal effectiveness as well as
reducing weight, cost, and logistics associated with stockpiling different
- Vortex Ring Generator Description
- o Concept of operation
-- Attach muzzle adapter to barrel
-- Add a chemical tank
-- Fire blank flash-bang rounds to generate vortex rings
-- Impact targets by integrated chemical-flash-concussion impulses
- o Desired performance
-- Knock down human target with single shot
-- Incapacitate via resonance effects
-- Incapacitate by single shot employing entrained chemical agent
- Nonlethal Testing Conclusions/Observations
- o Determining target effects on personnel
is greatest challenge to testing community
o Wide variety of potential effects requires evaluation
o Potential for injury or death severely limits human testing
o Animal testing is limited
o Extrapolation of surrogate target test data not consistently reliable
o Antimaterial systems present difficult challenges
o Details of temporary upset mechanisms not readily measurable
o Human presence (integral and collateral) limits testing scenarios
- NONLETHAL WEAPONS
Technologies, Legalities, and Potential
Maj Joseph W. Cook, III,
Maj David P. Fiely, Maj Maura T. McGowan
- From A.D. 1200 to 1500 a group of mercenaries
on the Italian peninsula called the condottieri waged what has often been
regarded as a form of nonlethal warfare. They were hired by the various
mercantile city-states to protect vital interests. Many of the major engagements
between these city-states' condottieri were almost comical for their lack
- According to Niccolo Machiavelli, the
battle of Zagonara in 1424 was a "defeat, famous throughout all Italy,
[in which] no death occurred except those of Lodovico degli Obizi and two
of his people, who, having fallen from their horses, were drowned in the
mire."1 Several reasons have been extended for this low lethality.
One of the more plausible reasons was the simple fact that the armor of
the day was much superior to most offensive weaponry. A more personal reason
is the fact that the surest way for a mercenary to lose his source of livelihood
was for the condottieri to obliterate his enemies. As a result, mercenaries
rarely sought setpiece battles, choosing instead to fight relatively minor
and extended campaigns. Engagements between mounted warriors often resembled
jousts and those between infantry often turned into shoving matches.
- In the past, nonlethal warfare did not
rely on the use of nonlethal weapons; rather, it was the fortuitous result
of the superiority of body armor over offensive weaponry or the mutual
lackadaisical approach of opposing soldiers and leaders. Today, nonlethal
weapons might offer the ability to wage nonlethal warfare without relying
on such fortuitous circumstances. The use of nonlethal weapons would serve
as a means of keeping the level of conflict low and of dissuading belligerents
from resorting to more forceful weapons. Also, the prospect of resolving
conflict with low levels of lethality is especially exciting to a country
that has a warfighting doctrine of minimizing friendly as well as enemy
casualties. Sun Tzu espoused a similar doctrine when he said:
- o Generally in war the best policy is
to take a state intact; to ruin it is inferior to this.
- o To capture the enemy's army is better
than to destroy it; to take intact a battalion, a company or a fiveman
squad is better than to destroy them.
- o For to win one hundred victories in
one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without
fighting is the acme of skill.2
- Nonlethal weapons are defined as "weapons
that are designed to disable personnel, weapons, supplies, or equipment
in such a way that death or severe permanent disability to personnel are
unlikely." However, some proposed "nonlethal" weapons are
not authorized under the international law governing weapons. Additionally,
some nonlethal weapons are not truly nonlethal in all employment scenarios.
Some government organizations such as the National Institute of Justice
prefer the term less than lethal3 to emphasize the point that "enough
marshmallows will kill you if properly placed."4 Others have coined
the phrase "nonlethal weapons of mass destruction" to emphasize
the fact that nonlethal weapons span the spectrum of warfare from lowintensity
conflict through theater conventional warfare and all the way to strategic
global war. Biological or chemical agents that destroy crops without directly
affecting people would still be considered lethal if starvation is the
likely result. A microwave weapon that disables a truck that subsequently
drives off a cliff, killing the driver, would be nonlethal. The same weapon
used against a helicopter in flight would have to be considered lethal.
- Some nonlethal technologies may offer
new options to our armed forces; others may prove to be more useful to
our enemies because of our advanced society's many vulnerabilities. For
example, a terrorist group with rudimentary knowledge of our information
switches could shut down our stock market with several wellplaced electromagnetic
pulse generators. Regardless of a weapon's potential worth or our relative
vulnerability, however, there is some value in pursuing these technologies
if only to develop appropriate countermeasures and policies. In this article,
we will examine the various nonlethal weapons in three contexts-potential
technologies, legalities, and potential policies.
- Proposed Nonlethal Weapons and Their
- In 1868, the Russian government issued
an invitation to the International Military Commission "to examine
the expediency of forbidding the use of certain projectiles in time of
war between civilized nations." At issue was the use of certain light
explosives or inflammable projectiles. When used against human beings,
the new projectile was no more effective than an ordinary rifle bullet;
however, it caused greater wounds and thus greatly aggravated the sufferings
of the victim. The resulting document, the Declaration of St. Petersburg,
prohibited the use of explosive projectiles under 400 grams of weight.
It was the first international treaty imposing restrictions on the conduct
- Legal Framework
- The Declaration of St. Petersburg is
a significant document because it develops a line of reasoning governing
the legality of weapons. This reasoning is found in the preamble to the
- "Considering the progress of civilization
should have the effect of alleviating as much as possible the calamities
of war. The only legitimate object which states should endeavor to accomplish
during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy. It is sufficient
to disable the greatest possible number of men, and this object would be
exceeded by the employment of arms which uselessly aggravate the sufferings
of disabled men or render their death inevitable. The use of such weapons
would therefore, be contrary to the laws of humanity."
- Although it may appear to be an incongruous
concept, the nations of the world have recognized the need to impose restrictions
on the waging of war. War will necessarily result in death and injury to
humans and the destruction of property; however, in the eyes of the international
community, it need not be an unlimited exercise in cruelty and ruthlessness.5
The necessities of war must be conciliated with the laws of humanity. The
resulting restrictions are regarded as the international law of armed conflict
(LOAC), or the law of war.
- These concepts did not originate in Russia.
They can be found throughout man's history. The ancient Hindu laws of Manu
prohibited the use of barbed arrows because they exacerbated the injury
upon their removal. The Romans considered the use of poisoned weapons to
be unlawful. During the Middle Ages, the Pope condemned the crossbow, noting
the appalling injuries it caused.
- While most cultures saw a need to restrain
the horrors of war, it was not until the nineteenth century that these
concepts were codified. The Declaration of St. Petersburg was followed
by the Hague conventions, which codified the "laws and customs of
war on land."6 The Geneva conventions of 1929 and 1949 focused on
ameliorating the conditions of civilians, prisoners of war, and the sick
and wounded.7 The latest amendments to the law of armed conflict are contained
in the 1977 Protocol.8 Additionally, a number of treaties address the legitimacy
of specific weapons.9
- The legality of a weapon and the legality
of the specific use of a weapon are determined by international law. The
sources of international law are international conventions, international
customs, general principles of law, as well as the writings of publicists.10
International law is part of the domestic law of the United States. Treaties
are regarded as the supreme law of the land in the Constitution.11 Those
practices of states that are regarded as custom are binding on all nationstates.
A large part of the law of armed conflict is recognized as custom and must
be observed by all nations.12
- To examine the legality of nonlethal
weapons, it is necessary to understand the wide array of legal principles
and restrictions governing their use.
- [I]n considering the use of any weapon,
new or old, two questions must be answered. First, can this weapon legally
be use? Second, if the first question is answered in the affirmative, is
the proposed use of this weapon legal?13
- We will review the general principles
governing the law of armed conflict, restraints imposed by custom and treaty,
and specific bans on weapons in order to review the legality of some proposed
- General Principles of the Law of Armed
- International law does not enumerate
those acts that may be committed in the name of military necessity. Guidance
is found in United States v. List, when the international military tribunal
at Nuremberg determined that ...
- "Military necessity permits a belligerent,
subject to the laws of war, to apply any amount and kind of force to compel
the complete submission of the enemy with the least possible expenditure
of time, life, and money. . . . There must be some reasonable connection
between the destruction of property and the overcoming of the enemy."14
- Military Necessity
- The rules of international law must be
followed even if it results in the loss of an advantage. Kriegsraison,
the German doctrine of military necessity, was the belief that the ends
justified the means. A matter of urgent necessity could override the LOAC.
This principle was rejected in United States v. Krupp, when the Nuremberg
tribunal held that ...
- "to claim that the law of war can
be wantonly and at the sole discretion of any one belligerent be disregarded
when he considered his own situation to be critical means nothing more
than to abrogate the laws and customs of war entirely."15
- The principle of humanity calls for the
mitigation of human suffering.16 As an example, an enemy soldier should
not be subjected to unnecessary suffering. A wound should be inflicted
to heal as painlessly as possible.17 Humanity's position in the law of
armed conflict was also preserved by the "Martens' Clause," which
specified that ...
- "the inhabitants and the belligerents
remain under the protections and the principles of the laws of nations
as they result from the usage's established among civilized persons, from
the laws of humanity, and from the dictates of the public conscience."18
- The Rule of Proportionality
- The concept of proportionality calls
for a reasonable relationship between the amount of destruction caused
and the military significance of the attack.19 The principles of humanity
and military necessity are applied together. Proportionality requires that
the loss of life and the damage not be disproportionate to the expected
military advantage. "Proportionality represents a movable fulcrum
on which necessity humanity scale may be balanced."20 The law recognizes
that a military activity will result in some loss of life and property,
but the action is illegal if the loss exceeds the military advantage.
- Principles Governing Weapons
- International law establishes certain
principles governing the prohibition of weapons. Two such principles are
unnecessary suffering and indiscriminate effects caused by certain weapons.
- Unnecessary Suffering
- Article 23(e) of the 1907 Hague Convention
prohibits the use of "arms, projectiles or materials calculated to
cause unnecessary suffering."21 This concept has been the subject
of much concern as there is no precise definition of unnecessary suffering.
As stated in Air Force Pamphlet (AFP) 11031, International Law: The Conduct
of Armed Conflict, all weapons cause suffering.22 The St. Petersburg Declaration
speaks in terms of arms that uselessly aggravate "the sufferings of
disabled men or render their death inevitable."
- Indiscriminate Effects
- A primary concern of the law of armed
conflict is the protection of noncombatants. A belligerent may not attack
a noncombatant and must cancel an attack on a legitimate military target
if the injury to the noncombatant population would be disproportionate.
Belligerents cannot employ a "blind" weapon, one that cannot
discriminate between noncombatants and combatants.
- Restraints Imposed by Custom or Treaty
- A weapon that complies with the general
principles of the law may not be used in a manner that is restricted by
custom or treaty. The Hague conventions underline that there are restrictions
on the conduct of war in Article 22, which provides that "the right
of belligerents to adopt means of injuring the enemy is not unlimited."
- Weapons may be used only against military
objectives. An object is considered to be a military object if its use,
nature, location, or purpose make effective contribution to the military
action.23 Some objects are considered dual use objects. They meet the needs
of the civilian population but also effectively contribute to the enemys
military action. These objects may be attacked if there is a military advantage
to be gained by their attack. During Desert Storm, the coalition forces
bombed bridges across the Euphrates River, not only to restrict the movement
of enemy forces but to sever the communications systems. The bridges contained
fiberoptic links that provided Saddam Hussein with a communications system
to his forces.24 The attack produced a military advantage for the coalition
- The attack may only be against lawful
combatants. The LOAC prohibits attack against noncombatants or civilian
property. Again, attacks against military targets may result in injury
to protected persons and property. It is the attackers' responsibility
to minimize collateral damage against protected persons and property. Places
such as buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, charitable purposes,
historic monuments, and hospitals are protected from attack.25 The Hague
Convention also prohibits the use of poison,26 treachery, and perfidy.27
Emblems of protection such as the Red Cross must be respected.28 There
are rules governing the use of uniforms and certain signals.29 Assassination
- Man is constantly using technology to
devise new weapons that international law must address. These weapons range
from the very deadly to the nonlethal.
- Biological Weapons
- Biological warfare is defined as "the
technique of destruction by disease."31 Biological agents are living
organisms (bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, and rickettsiae) or the
toxins derived from such organisms. These organisms or toxins can be targeted
against animals, plants, or material.
- The idea of using bacteria and toxins
to harm an enemy is not a new one. During the fourteenth century, the Tatars
catapulted bodies of plague victims into a Crusader fortress to spread
contagion. The Crusaders, weakened by disease, lost their stronghold.32
Historically, biological weapons have been regarded as so horrible that
they should be prohibited. The objections are based on a number of grounds.
- Bacteriological agents owe their effects
to the multiplication of their organisms within the victim. Their multiplication
after dissemination is hard to control. They are unpredictable in scale
and duration.33 They increase the possibility of epidemics that would indiscriminately
strike noncombatants. They may also indiscriminately attack the disseminator's
own troops. The medical profession, entitled to protection, would suffer
at the same rate as the combatants, decreasing chances of survival for
the whole population.34 Bacteriological warfare may be impossible to defend
against. This type of warfare does not destroy property but strikes against
personnel, animals, and crops. Suffering may be prolonged due to the destruction
of crops.35 An important consideration was that toxins are technically
poisons, and poisons have historically been prohibited.
- Although it is conceivable that under
limited circumstances biological weapons could be employed in accordance
with the generally accepted principles of the LOAC, they have been banned
by international treaties. In 1925, the Geneva Protocol prohibited the
use of bacteriological methods of warfare. In 1975 the United States ratified
the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production and Stockpiling
of Bacteriological (Biological) and Toxin Weapons and Their Destruction.
Under the terms of the convention, the parties undertake not to develop,
produce, stockpile, or acquire biological agents or toxins "of types
and in quantities that have no justification for prophylactic protection
and other peaceful purposes."
- The impact of these two conventions is
the clear prohibition of the use and development of biological weapons.
Attempts to employ biological warfare, even in a nonlethal capacity, would
be prohibited under international law. The drafters of the Biological Convention
focused on the development of biological weapons for hostile purposes.
- One of the methods of nonlethal warfare
under consideration is the use of recombinant DNA technology to attack
an ethnic population. This would be a prohibited hostile use of biological
agents. In addition, such an action could be a violation of the Convention
of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.36 The use of
biological agents even to cause mild sickness or destroy a food crop would
be unlawful. The criteria for the use of the biological agent is whether
or not it is a hostile use, not whether or not the use will result in death.
- Some bacteriological agents have genuine
medical uses, and stockpiling for these purposes is not objectionable.
Accordingly, it would follow that the use of bioremedians, biological agents
that break down material, to clean up oil spills would be legal under these
treaties, but the use of these same agents to destroy an enemy's fuel supply
would be considered hostile intent and therefore illegal.37
- Although the original impetus for the
prohibition against biological warfare was the damage or injury to man,
the conventions have been written to prohibit any hostile use of biological
agents, even those which are nonlethal.
- Chemical Weapons
- The end of the nineteenth century saw
the development of chemical weapons on a significant scale.38 Chemical
weapons were frequently used during World War I in the form of toxic chemicals
such as chlorine, phosgene, and mustard gases. Phosgene has a slow effect
on the victim. "The person will have increasing difficulty in breathing
as the lung tissue is slowly destroyed and fills up with bodily fluids.
Death, which is slow in coming, is by asphyxiation."39 Since death
was slow in coming, the victims damaged lungs would suffer bacterial infection
that would be the actual cause of death.40 Sulfur mustard gas also destroys
tissue. If the gas contacts skin, the skin is destroyed. If the gas is
inhaled, the lung lining is destroyed.41
- The military and the general population
were horrified by these weapons, which had the same treacherous characteristics
of poison that had been prohibited by custom and international treaties.
The weapon could not be seen, and defenses were limited. Its effectiveness
was subject to the whims of the wind. Gas was released to cover an area,
and would indiscriminately strike all in the area, be they combatants or
noncombatants. And last, the weapon caused unnecessary suffering.
- The 1925 Gas Protocol was drafted in
response to the horrors seen during World War I. A number of nations reserved
the right to retaliate against the use of chemical weapons with chemical
weapons. The United States had several objections to the Gas Protocol.
It believed chemical weapons did not include chemical riot control agents.
The United States has historically argued the dichotomy of allowing riot
control gases by a nations police force against its own citizens while
prohibiting their use against enemy combatants in battle.42 Again, it argued
that the use of herbicides and defoliants may be more humane in some cases
than the use of conventional weapons.43 Fifty years later, in 1975, the
Senate abandoned these arguments and unanimously ratified the treaty. In
1975, President Gerald R. Ford issued an executive order renouncing first
use of riot control gases and herbicides except in limited noncombatant
- The Gas Protocol has been subject to
a number of criticisms.45 Following the United States's lead, the United
Nations took efforts to develop comprehensive arms control of chemical
weapons. The Draft Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production,
Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction46 prohibited
the use, development, production, acquiring, or stockpiling of chemical
weapons. It also prohibited the use of riot controls as a method of warfare.
- The Convention defines chemical weapons
to include "Toxic chemicals and their precursors, except when intended
for purposes not prohibited under this convention" (emphasis added).
Toxic chemical is defined to mean "any chemical which through its
chemical action on life processes can cause death, temporary incapacitation
or permanent harm to humans or animals." Prohibited toxic chemicals
have been listed in schedules contained in the "Annex of Chemicals":
- "Riot Control Agent" means
any chemical not listed in a Schedule, which can produce rapidly in human
sensory irritation or disabling physical effects which disappear within
a short time following termination of exposure."
- Article II, Section 9, goes on to define
"Purposes Not Prohibited Under this Convention" to mean:
- c) Military purposes not connected with
the use of chemical weapons and not dependent on the use of toxic properties
of chemicals as a method of warfare
- d) Law enforcement including domestic
riot control purposes.
- Following are some of the chemical antipersonnel
nonlethal weapons under consideration.
- Tear/Riot Gases. The domestic law enforcement
community possesses and uses riot gases. However, in a warfare situation,
the use of tear gas is currently strictly limited by an executive order.
When the chemical convention is entered into force, the use of tear gas
and other riot controls will be completely forbidden.
- Calmative Agents. These agents, sometimes
called sleep agents, can be made more effective by combining them with
dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO), a chemical that promotes transmission of the
calmative through the skin and into the bloodstream. Calmative agents were
allegedly used by the Soviets in Afghanistan. The reports indicated that
the mujahideen would lie down and sleep until they awoke later in Soviet
custody. The reports are discounted because such a chemical has not proven
effective.47 If the chemical that comprises the calmative agent is not
listed on the prohibited chemical schedule, then a further determination
of whether the agent constitutes a prohibited riotcontrol agent must be
made. Under the definition of "riot control agent," calmative
agents would be prohibited because they cause disabling physical effects.
- Sticky Foam. These polymer agents will
hopelessly stick a person to anything. It can be argued that these weapons
amount to prohibited riot control agents under the convention since they
are "chemicals... which can produce rapidly disabling physical effects."
- Markers. These chemical agents come in
numerous forms and are currently used in law enforcement. A covert variety
can surreptitiously expose a criminal to an invisible dye that shows up
under special lighting. An overt dye that is impossible to wash off can
be sprayed on a fleeing felon.
- Nonlethal chemical agents that attack
material are promising and diverse. If the chemical that comprises the
weapon is limited on the schedule of prohibited chemicals, it may be possible
to claim that the weapon is exempt. These chemicals are "not dependent
on the use of the toxic properties of chemicals as a method of warfare."
"Toxic Properties" means using chemical action on life processes
that cause death, temporary incapacitation, or permanent harm to humans
or animals. This category of weapons would include the following agents.
- Combustion Alteration Technology (CAT).
CAT agents change the viscosity or combustion characteristics of fuel to
degrade engine performance. Nearinstantaneous engine failure is possible
if the agent is applied in appropriate quantities.
- Smart Metals. These special metals, formed
with chemical additives or blended in a particular form, could be introduced
to control certain activities while allowing legitimate ones. For example,
a notional metal designed to perform satisfactorily in a legitimate chemical
plant might be designed to fail or give off telltale signs to inspectors
if the plant is used for more insidious purposes.
- Super Caustics. These super acids can
be used against weapons, tires, roads, roofs, optical systems, or even
shoes. They could also be used to deny human contact and can be stored
in a harmless binary form.48
- Metal Embrittlement. These agents severely
weaken metals by chemically changing their molecular structure. They are
clear, leave imperceptible residue, can attack almost any metal, and can
be applied with a felt tip pen.49
- Antitraction Technology. These super
lubricants severely reduce traction. They are specially blended to attack
specific targets such as roads, runways, rails, and the like.50
- Polymer Agents. These agents are similar
to sticky foams but are designed to target material instead of personnel.
They can foul engines or ventilation systems and can also deny the use
of weapons and facilities.51
- Nonlethal electromagnetic weapons span
the spectrum from simple to exotic. Many can be employed (or can have collateral
effects) against both personnel and equipment. Blinding and shocking effects
are the most common nonlethal results of the use of this class of weapons.
We will now look at potential nonlethal applications of certain technologies
for which there are presently no specific prohibitions but which could
certainly have LOAC implications.
- Electrified Baton, Stun Gun, Taser. These
weapons deliver immobilizing, lowenergy pulsed shocks either at close range
(baton and stun gun) or at long range (taser). They are used by police
in criminal enforcement. The taser has electric currents of high voltage
and low amperage that cause the muscles of the body to contract forcefully.52
The individual experiences spasms.53 The contractions may fracture bones.
If the individual collapses, he may suffer further injury.54 If an individual
is repeatedly shocked, he may be rendered unconscious. The individual may
suffer electrical burns that may be difficult to treat.55
- Highintensity Light. These omnidirectional
bombs or flares can flashblind personnel even in existing intense lighting
situations. They can also degrade sensors and night vision devices.
- Lasers. Lowenergy lasers can be directed
or aimed at specific targets to blind personnel or sensors either temporarily
or permanently. They can also be used to make a gun or other weapon too
hot to hold. The most advanced blinding lasers oscillate between numerous
colors to make goggles and other countermeasures ineffective.
- One factor in the assessment of the legality
of a weapon is discrimination. A weapon that injures the civilian population
or civilian property along with military personnel and objects, without
distinction, is considered indiscriminate and thus illegal. Electromagnetic
weapons, and most specifically the laser, can "almost always be directed
very precisely against specific targets."56
- A second factor of assessment is "unnecessary
suffering." Several electromagnetic weapons, such as the highintensity
light and laser, may produce temporary or permanent blindness. These weapons
have been the subject of much discussion. Sweden has been actively condemning
the use of lasers as antipersonnel weapons on the grounds that they cause
- Several sophisticated types of military
equipment, such as sensors and optics, are rendered useless when subjected
to laser weapons. These pieces of military equipment are legitimate targets.
Their destruction, however, may result in injury to personnel. Such injury
would be incidental to the primary target of the weapon.57
- The controversy surrounding lasers focuses
on the legitimacy of deliberately blinding human beings. Exposing a pilot's
eyes to a laser may result in the destruction of the entire plane.58 Intentionally
blinding an attacking infantry unit would render them unable to fight.
Some scholars, in particular experts from Switzerland and Sweden, argue
that intentionally using a laser to permanently blind a combatant is a
disproportionate injury to the gained military advantage.59 The essence
of their argument is that the Declaration of St. Petersburg authorized
the incapacitation of an opponent only for the duration of the conflict.
"Although it is permitted to kill combatants under the law of war,
and thus to put them permanently out of action, it is not permitted to
use methods or means of warfare exclusively designed to injure soldiers
with injuries lasting not only the duration of the conflict but for the
rest of their lives."60 It is their position that intentional irreversible
permanent blindness by a laser constitutes "unnecessary suffering."
- The United States rejects this position.
In a memorandum of law, it noted that there was no legal obligation to
limit wounding so that the opponent would be temporarily disabled for the
period of the hostilities and no longer.61 Additionally, it noted, "Blinding
is no stranger to the battle field." The use of a number of conventional
weapons could result in blindness.62 However, these conventional weapons
are more likely to cause death. It is the United States' position that
lasers do not cause unnecessary suffering but are more humane because the
victim is likely to suffer less injury than that caused by conventional
- The injuries suffered as a result of
electromagnetic weapons are typically less severe than those injuries resulting
from conventional weapons. Although it is possible that a belligerent may
be permanently injured or killed as a result of the use of these weapons,
there is no evidence that the suffering experienced is greater then that
experienced from conventional weapons.
- Acoustical Weapons
- Nonlethal acoustical weapons also range
from the mundane to the extraordinary as described below.
- High-intensity Sound. High-intensity
sound sets the ear drum in motion. These vibrations cause the inner ear
to initiate nerve impulses that the brain registers as sound.64 The inner
ear regulates the spatial orientation of the body. If the ear is subjected
to high-intensity sound, the individual may experience imbalance.65 Low-frequency,
high-intensity sound may cause other organs to resonate, causing a number
of physiological results, including death.66
- The British use high-intensity sound
as a means of riot control in Northern Ireland. The Curdler is a device
that emits a high "shrieking noise at irregular intervals."67
The sound is emitted at levels lower than the pain threshold.