The Encyclopedia is a project of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights launched on 2 December 2013. The Enyclopedia aims to provide accurate, up-to-date information on weapons, the effects of their use, and their regulation under public international law, in a format that is accessible to non-specialists.+ Find out more
Blinding laser weapons are defined under Article 1 of the 1995 Protocol on Blinding Laser Weapons (Protocol IV to 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, CCW) as
laser weapons specifically designed, as their sole combat function or as one of their combat functions, to cause permanent blindness to unenhanced vision, that is to the naked eye or to the eye with corrective eyesight devices.
In accordance with Article 4 of the Protocol, 'permanent blindness' refers to 'irreversible and uncorrectable loss of vision which is seriously disabling with no prospect of recovery'.
The employment and the transfer of such laser weapons are prohibited by the Protocol. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), state practice establishes this prohibition as a norm of customary international law applicable in both international and non-international armed conflicts.
Use of laser systems and laser weapons during armed conflict is also governed by the general rules of international humanitarian law, particularly the international humanitarian law prohibition on weapons or methods of warfare of a nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering.
Last updated on: 30 November 2013