IHRC releases paper on incendiary weapons; Docherty publishes book on cluster munitions

A new paper released by Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic and Human Rights Watch calls for stronger controls of incendiary weapons, such as white phosphorus.

HLS Lecturer on Law Bonnie Docherty ’01, senior researcher in the Arms division at Human Rights Watch, presented the paper to diplomats at the meeting of states parties to the Convention on Conventional Weapons in Geneva in November. Researched and written by IHRC students, the paper launches a new campaign to minimize the harmful effects of incendiary weapons.

Incendiary weapons have killed or injured civilians in conflicts from World War I to the present; white phosphorous, for example, reaches temperatures of 1500 degrees Fahrenheit, burns easily through human flesh, and can reignite when bandages are removed.

While in Geneva, Docherty lobbied diplomats alongside Alan Cliff, a student in the International Human Rights Clinic. Other students on the project included Ashley Chung and Joe Phillips. Several states publicly and privately supported the paper’s call for action.

Docherty, a leading expert on cluster munitions, has written a new book entitled “Meeting the Challenge: Protecting Civilians through the Convention on Cluster Munitions.” Published this fall by Human Rights Watch, her book draws on a decade’s worth of research by Docherty and Human Rights Watch,

The book details the destructive force of these weapons on civilians and analyzes the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a landmark international treaty that bans the weapons, requires assistance for victims, and mandates clearance of the de facto landmines the weapons leave behind. Docherty also lays out the steps countries must take in order to meet their legal obligations and fulfill the treaty’s promise.

In addition to staff at HRW, many of Docherty’s students in the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School contributed to the research and/or writing of the book: Stacy Frazier, Alex Mazer, Bradford Adams, Rebecca Agule, Emily Broad, Jessica Corsi, Alison Kamhi, Maria van Wagenberg, and Mona Williams.