International Law Studies


Sean Watts


The historical record of international weapons law reveals both regulation-tolerant weapons and regulation-resistant weapons, identifiable by a number of criteria, including effectiveness, novelty, deployment, medical compatibility, disruptiveness and notoriety. This article identifies these criteria both to explain and inform existing weapons law, and also to facilitate efforts to identify weapons and emerging technology that may prove susceptible to future law of war regulation. By charting both the history and methodology of weapons law with a view toward identifying forces and influences that have made some weapons susceptible to international regulation and made others resistant, this article offers a starting point for identifying sound investments of the very precious diplomatic, political and financial capital required to produce meaningful law of war developments.