Geneva — Diplomats from 76 countries have achieved the first conventional- weapons ban in more than 50 years. If endorsed by the UN General Assembly and ratified by at least 20 governments, it will be the first such weapons restriction since a 1925 Geneva protocol banned the poison gas that was used in World War I.
The pact contains a treaty with optional protocols on incendiaries, land mines, and booby traps, and one forbidding use of weapons that explode into glass or plastic particles untraceable in a victim's body by X-ray.
The incendiary-weapons protocol forbids the use against civilians of napalm and all other munitions that rely on fire to destroy. It seeks to avoid repetition of the city firestorms deliberately caused during World War II and the napalm burns that Indochinese civilians suffered during the Vietnam war. Military commanders are forbidden to drop firebombs on military targets in densely populated areas and must take all possible precautions to avoid civilian casualties if they use ground-based fire weapons against the same targets.