The concept of war could be pretty weird and ironic at times. After all, the purpose of creating all these lethal weapons and engaging in war with the enemies was to cause havoc and suffering to them, right? That could be true in ancient times, but we are not barbaric. So, even when we are killing one another, there are certain rules that had to be adhered to, one of which was the ban on using weapons that caused unnecessary pain and suffering from the enemies. Here are those:

Poisoned Bullets

In 1675, the Strasbourg Agreement between France and the Holy Roman Empire was created and signed in response to the increased use of poisoned bullets. The particular poisoned bullets banned in the agreement was the one developed by Leonardo da Vinci that had powdered arsenic and powdered sulfur packed into shells.

According to it, the French nor Holy Roman Empire were not to use poisoned bullets in conflict, making it the very first agreement to ban a weapon of war in modern history.

Chemical Weapons

Before the 1993 Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, chemical weapons saw uses during World War I, with both sides developing and using their own poisonous gases. These chemical weapons were usually put into munitions like grenades and artillery shells and then bombarded enemy positions. Among the most famous chemical weapons used with different effects were chlorine gas, mustard gas, and phosgene gas.

An unidentified Canadian soldier with burns caused by mustard gas (Library and Archives Canada, C-080027 / Bibliothèque et Archives Canada, C-080027, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

The devastating effects of these chemical gases resulted in a large public outcry against their use, and os in 1925, the Geneva Protocol banned the use of chemical weapons in war. Since then, other chemical weapons have been banned, including nerve agents that damage the neurotransmitters of the body, causing the victims to lose control of their bodily functions that would, later on, result in respiratory failure.

The same thing goes for nettle agents that irritate the skin like tear gas and pepper spray, which were all included at the 1993 convention mentioned above.

Blinding Laser Weapons

It was in 1995 that blinding laser weapons were banned under Protocol IV of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. As defined by international law, blinding weapons are specifically designed to cause permanent blindness to the naked eye.

It is worth noting that “blinding as an incidental or collateral effect of the legitimate military employment of laser systems, including laser systems used against optical equipment,” which translates to, “It’s okay if you get blinded from a laser that was not intended to blind you.”