Jus in Bello… Syria and Chemical Weapons …Autumn 2013

All this fuss about the use of chemical weapons in Syria.bomb
Does this impact on my ethics course?
Too right it does. In the AS Ethics paper “War and Peace”
One of the sections in “Jus in Bello” talks about weaponry rules – that is weapons which countries have agreed to use and weapons they have agreed not to use in war.
Towards the end of the 19th century, Britain was either using, or planning to use chemical weapons. In the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, the use of such weapons was forbidden. Despite this chemical weapons were widely used in the First World War. Most people will probably know that Germany used chlorine gas in gas attacks during 1915. After that all the nations involved in the war used chemical weapons. The gas in some of these weapons was intended to affect eyes, lungs or skin, but hydrogen cyanide, a lethal gas was also deployed.
After the war it was suggested by the French that poisonous substances should be banned as weapons of war. This was accepted. The Geneva Protocol of June 1927 and February 1928 banned the use of chemical and bacteriological weaponry.

There have been a number of abuses of this treaty. During the Second World War both Britain and Germany had stockpiles of chemical weapons, but they remained unused. Gas masks were distributed to civilians though in the UK in case of a gas attack. There have also been claims that chemical weapons were used by Saddam Hussein against Iran and against his own people.

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