What Weapons Are Banned or Restricted in War?
For thousands of years, there have been rules to control the types of weapons in warfare—for instance, the use of poison in armed combat was forbidden in Ancient Greece.
But it wasn’t until the 19th century that international agreements were made to legally regulate the types of weapons that are allowed (and banned) in wars around the world.
This graphic outlines the weapons that are banned or limited in war, according to international humanitarian laws that are outlined in the United Nations Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW).
CCW and The Five Protocols
The CCW, also known as the Inhumane Weapons Convention, is an international agreement that restricts the use of weapons that have been deemed unnecessarily cruel and inhumane.
Currently, there are 125 State Parties involved in the agreement, with signatures from an additional four states. In the CCW, there are five protocols outlined that restrict or limit the use of the following weapons:
- Non-detectable fragments: weapons specially designed to shatter into tiny pieces, which aren’t detectable in the human body. Examples are fragmented bullets or projectiles filled with broken glass.
- Mines, booby traps, and other devices: This includes anti-personnel mines, which are mines specially designed to target humans rather than tanks.
- Incendiary weapons: Weapons that cause fires aren’t permitted for use on on civilian populations or in forested areas.
- Blinding lasers: Laser weapons specifically designed to cause permanent blindness.
- Explosive remnants of war: Parties that have used cluster bombs in combat are required to help clear any unexploded remains.
It’s worth flagging that, under the CCW, the use of cluster bombs is not outright banned. However, their use and production is prohibited under separate legislation called the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).
At this time, the CCW does not have enforcement processes in place, or systems to resolve any breaches of the agreement.
The Chemical Weapons Convention
Another international treaty that aims to limit the use of unnecessarily dangerous weapons is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), which prohibits the creation, acquisition, stockpiling, and use of chemical weapons by State Parties.
193 State Parties have signed the CWC, and one more state (Israel) has technically signed the agreement but hasn’t yet made it official.
Syria signed the agreement back in 2013, but according to reports from UN human rights investigators, the Syrian government has used chemical weapons on numerous occasions throughout its ongoing civil war.
Is Russia Using Prohibited Weapons in Ukraine?
In the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, it’s been reported that Russia’s been using several weapons that are banned by international legislation, including cluster bombs and explosive weapons. Harvard Law expert Bonnie Docherty explains why these weapons are so dangerous:
- They scatter submunitions over vast areas of land, meaning they can hit unintended targets
- Many don’t explode and end up laying dormant for years
According to reports from Human Rights Watch, Russia has been using cluster bombs in several areas of Ukraine, such as the heavily populated city of Mykolaiv, and in Solyani, a suburban area just outside of Mykolaiv.
AI in Weapons and Warfare
Over the last few decades, certain protocols and restrictions in the CCW have been amended and changed based on societal changes and technological improvements.
So, as military weapons continue to improve, and technology like commercial drones become more common, proper legislation around drone use in warfare may be necessary.
Currently, there is no international legislation that bans the use of drones in war. However, several global defense companies are popping up to try and find ways to counter these new military technologies. In fact, the global addressable market for counter drones and tracking systems is estimated at $10 billion worldwide.
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Mapped: Which Ports are Receiving the Most Russian Fossil Fuel Shipments?
Russia’s energy exports have become a hot topic. See which ports received fossil shipments during the first 100 days of the Ukraine invasion
As the invasion of Ukraine wears on, European countries are scrambling to find alternatives to Russian fossil fuels.
In fact, an estimated 93% of Russian oil sales to the EU are due to be eliminated by the end of the year, and many countries have seen their imports of Russian gas plummet. Despite this, Russia earned €93 billion in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the invasion.
While the bulk of fossil fuels travel through Europe via pipelines, there are still a number marine shipments moving between ports. The maps below, using data from MarineTraffic.com and Datalastic, compiled by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), are a look at Russia’s fossil fuel shipments during the first 100 days of the invasion.
Russia’s Crude Oil Shipments
Much of Russia’s marine shipments of crude oil went to the Netherlands and Italy, but crude was also shipped as far away as India and South Korea.
India became a significant importer of Russian crude oil, buying 18% of the country’s exports (up from just 1%). From a big picture perspective, India and China now account for about half of Russia’s marine-based oil exports.
It’s important to note that a broad mix of companies were involved in shipping this oil, with some of the companies tapering their trade activity with Russia over time. Even as shipments begin to shift away from Europe though, European tankers are still doing the majority of the shipping.
Russia’s Liquefied Natural Gas Shipments
Unlike the gas that flows along the many pipeline routes traversing Europe, liquefied natural gas (LNG) is cooled down to a liquid form for ease and safety of transport by sea. Below, we can see that shipments went to a variety of destinations in Europe and Asia.
Fluxys terminals in France and Belgium stand out as the main destinations for Russian LNG deliveries.
Russia’s Oil Product Shipments
For crude oil tankers and LNG tankers, the type of cargo is known. For this dataset, CREA assumed that oil products tankers and oil/chemical tankers were carrying oil products.
Huge ports in Rotterdam and Antwerp, which house major refineries, were the destination for many of these oil products. Some shipments also went to destinations around the Mediterranean as well.
All of the top ports in this category were located within the vicinity of Europe.
Russia’s Coal Shipments
Finally, we look at marine-based coal shipments from Russia. For this category, CREA identified 25 “coal export terminals” within Russian ports. These are specific port locations that are associated with loading coal, so when a vessel takes on cargo at one of these locations, it is assumed that the shipment is a coal shipment.
The European Union has proposed a Russian coal ban that is expected to take effect in August. While this may seem like a slow reaction, it’s one example of how the invasion of Ukraine is throwing large-scale, complex supply chains into disarray.
With such a heavy reliance on Russian fossil fuels, the EU will be have a busy year trying to secure substitute fuels – particularly if the conflict in Ukraine continues to drag on.
Mapped: The Ukraine Refugee Crisis in Europe
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked the largest European refugee crisis since WWII. See where refugees are fleeing to on this map.
Mapped: The Ukraine Refugee Crisis in Europe
The world has seen several refugee crises over the last decade, from conflicts in the Americas, the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. However, over the last few months, another migrant crisis has emerged, and once again Europe has been the focus.
On February 24, 2022, Russia launched a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. Since then, millions of Ukrainians have fled their homes in search of refuge, with a majority heading through neighboring countries like Poland, Romania, and Russia.
This map by Elbie Bentley uses immigration data from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as of May 24th, 2022 to visualize current migration crisis that’s happening across Europe. It shows where Ukrainian refugees crossed borders as they fled the conflict.
Refugee Border Crossings into Neighboring Countries
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, close to 6.6 million people have fled Ukraine to neighboring countries. Put another way, this is the largest refugee crisis in Europe since WWII.
|Country||# of Border Crossings (as May 24, 2022)|
Data above is from Feb 24 to May 24, 2022. The situation is fluid, and we recommend visiting the data source linked above for the latest data.
Though the UNHCR tracks departures individually, it’s important to note that arrivals can include people who’ve crossed multiple borders after leaving Ukraine. For example, a refugee heading to Romania via Moldova may be counted twice in the dataset. For this reason, adding the individual country totals together results in a number higher than 6.6 million.
Poland has seen the highest number of Ukrainian refugees, with an estimated 3.5 million people crossing the border since February 24th. About a million of those refugees have been registered in Poland, and 94% of those registered refugees have been women and children.
Russia has received the third most refugees, with many of them coming from or near separatist regions in the east of Ukraine. Russia also says it helped evacuate 140,000 civilians from Mariupol, but claims that those populations were not forced to migrate to Russia.
Hungary has seen the fourth-largest influx of refugees, seeing 644,474 Ukrainians cross into the country since the start of the conflict. In recent years, the Hungarian government been in the headlines because of its views towards migrants, including in 2018, when Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orbán made controversial comments about Syrian refugees.
While the above countries are the entry points for refugees, it’s worth noting that many migrants ultimately make their way to many other places throughout Europe and the world. For example, Germany has accepted 780,000 Ukrainian refugees since the start of the war, despite not sharing a border directly with Ukraine.
An Internal Refugee Crisis
While many Ukrainians had fled the country, millions more have been displaced or trapped within.
As of the end of May, approximately 8 million Ukrainians have been forced to relocate, while approximately 13 million are either stranded in areas affected by the conflict or trapped because of things like increased security or infrastructure damage.
Ukraine and Russia are reeling from the war and its impact, and a ripple effect is hitting countries dependent on Ukrainian trade for agricultural and industrial goods and Russian oil and gas. Add the migrant crisis to the mix, and the total consequences will be felt for decades throughout the region.
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