Independent Online Edition > World Politics
: "If it turns out that civilians were killed, what legal recourse is there?
If an Iraqi investigation provides evidence that civilians were killed by white phosphorus as a weapon, there is no recourse under the Conventional Weapons Convention.
However, the 1977 first protocol to the Geneva Conventions could be invoked. The United States has signed but not ratified the protocol which relates to the 4th Convention which considers the treatment of civilians.
Article 35 of the protocol makes it clear that the use and methods of use of 'weapons of warfare are not unlimited.' Any weapon or use of weapon that causes 'superfluous or unnecessary suffering' is outlawed. The indiscriminate use of phosphorus on a civilian population would be covered.
Breaches of the Geneva Conventions are brought by individual countries and are usually heard by the United Nations at Security Council level, or in the International Court of Justice.
Peter Carter QC, an expert in international law and chairman of the Bar's human rights committee, said the latest US admissions raised serious concerns about whether white phosphorus was indiscriminately used against civilians. He called for an independent inquiry, possibly through the United Nations, into the use of white phosphorus in Iraq."