Less-lethal weapons (LLW) and equipment have an important and increasing role in law enforcement. They may be used as a less dangerous alternative to firearms, in order to reduce the risk of serious harm to persons and to the suspect of crimes, or in situations where force is necessary but where the use of firearms would be disproportionate.
There is no agreed definition of LLW but law enforcement agents know what they speak about when LLW are invoked. There are also very few national and no international standards that regulate the use of LLW, their impact and long-term effects.
While there is some jurisprudence related to the use of Tasers and some guidance from the 1979 United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, there is no comprehensive analysis of LLW use’s human rights impact and compliance with international human rights law (IHRL).
At the 2017 annual seminar on current human rights challenges related to the use of force, participants – experts, practitioners, academics and representatives from international and non-governmental organizations – explored the challenges and opportunities of new technologies, including LLW and unmanned systems, from the perspectives of both the right to life and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Given the lack of definition of LLW in IHRL, the absence of international standards regulating their use and the lack of clarity regarding their human rights impact and compliance with IHRL the seminar concluded with a call to further explore the use of LLW for law enforcement purposes.
Arthur Nguyen Dao
We awarded, during our 2017 Graduation Ceremony, three prizes to graduating students for their exceptional academic work: the Henry Dunant Research Prize, the Best LLM Paper Prize and the Best Master in Transitional Justice (MTJ) Paper Prize.
Our Senior Researcher Alice Priddy presented our research project on disability in armed conflict to the members of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
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This IHL Talk will discuss the legal framework and the main critical questions related to search and rescue in the Mediterranean Sea, using concrete cases and examples to illustrate current issues and challenges.
This short course analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
The Geneva Academy team followed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) negotiations and provided key information on the negotiations, notably via a daily blog.
We are a partner of the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, housed at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, which aims to map and analyse the human rights challenges and opportunities presented by the use of big data and associated technologies. It notably examines whether fundamental human rights concepts and approaches need to be updated and adapted to meet the new realities of the digital age.