Protocol V is one of the very few instruments that addresses the design through to the production of munitions. This is a sensitive area that is generally kept within the domain of national governments and private companies. However, improvements to the design of ammunition and applying strict controls and internationally recognised quality standards throughout the production process can contribute to reducing the rate of unexploded ordnance. This is why High Contracting Parties are urged to take action in these areas.
For a discussion on standardisation across the areas of production to in-service see "A discussion on international harmonisation of the safety and suitability for service assessment
" by Dr. Michael W. Sharp, MSIAC.
Specifically on munitions manufacturing management, the third part of the Technical Annex to Protocol V encourages High Contracting Parties to carry out the following measures:
(i) Production processes should be designed to achieve the greatest reliability of munitions.
Article 36 of Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions
(ii) Production processes should be subject to certified quality control measures.
(iii) During the production of explosive ordnance, certified quality assurance standards
that are internationally recognised should be applied.
(iv) Acceptance testing should be conducted through live-fire testing over a range of
conditions or through other validated procedures.
(v) High reliability standards should be required in the course of explosive ordnance
transactions and transfers.
(b) Munitions management
In order to ensure the best possible long-term reliability of explosive ordnance, States are
encouraged to apply best practice norms and operating procedures with respect to its storage.
Under Article 36 of Additional Protocol I, States have an obligation when designing, developing or purchasing new weapons to assess the risks posed by the particular weapon and its compliance with international humanitarian law. This is in line with the direction given to States under Protocol V to ensure that the processes for the production of munitions achieves a high standard of reliability.
Article 36 states: "In the study, development, acquisition or adoption of a new weapon, means or method of warfare, a High Contracting Party is under an obligation to determine whether its employment would, in some or all circumstances, be prohibited by this Protocol or by any other rule of international law applicable to the High Contracting Party."
The ICRC has published "A Guide to the Legal Review of New Weapons, Means and Methods of Warfare: Measures to Implement Article 36 of Additional Protocol I of 1977
". International Review of the Red Cross, Volume 88 Number 864 December 2006.
Protocol V does not specifically address the issue of procurement of munitions
. For a discussion on this issue see "Report of Expert Group 8 Environmental Engineering
" CEN Workshop 10 Standardisation for Defence Procurement Expert Group 8 Environmental Engineering, April 2011
Checklist on the development of munitions
The Protocol V Generic Preventive Measures checklist addresses the development of munitions. Set out below are the questions included in the checklist in the areas of specification, concept, development, qualification work and production.
(a) Does the design work include features and parameters to enable munitions products to meet the specified requirements for reliability, safety, storage, transport and handling, throughout the whole life cycle of munitions (e.g. : including operational usage and disposal)?
(b) Are munitions designed to maintain the required level of reliability in all specified environmental and foreseeable operational conditions throughout all life cycle stages?
(c) Is the quality of the chosen components (materials, mechanical parts, explosive materials, compatibility and time degradation of pyrotechnic materials, electronic parts, battery…) optimised against the performance and the specified UXO rate?
(d) Where appropriate and technically feasible, does the design permit the testing of critical functions, which may lead to UXO prior to use (by user or BIT)?
(e) Does the fusing system incorporate design features, which definitively limit the foreseen active time of munitions: self-destruction mechanism, self-deactivating feature (e.g. Electrical Firing Energy Dissipation), self-neutralisation mechanism (e.g. disarming, sterilisation), and self-disruption?
(f) Are features or functions, related with safety, tested at a 100% level?
(g) Does the design of the fusing system include features that facilitate, as applicable, effective automated and/or manual quality assurance methods, tests and inspections?
(h) Are munitions designed to achieve the specified lifetime without unacceptable degradation of reliability and safety?
(i) Does the design of munitions include features for health monitoring that facilitate, as applicable, a prognostics and diagnostics capability, thereby assuring the effectiveness and reliability of munitions throughout the lifecycle?
(j) Are the lot numbers marked on munitions?
(k) Has a reliability and safety analysis been performed e.g. are potential malfunctions of munitions analysed and is the design improved and verified by analysis and specific reliability and safety tests?
(l) Are critical functions and characteristics, with respect to UXO, defined?
(m) Are quantitative reliability and safety requirements assessed by analysis and tests?
(n) If, in munitions, there are software or programmable components, do you refer to international standards? Do you define, plan and perform specific activities to assure reliability and safety?
(o) Has process analysis been realised to assure the greatest reliability of munitions? (e.g. FMECA process)
√Has the production process been qualified?
√ Are critical characteristics for safety and UXO rate, defined in safety assessment studies, checked during production?
√ Have the production process quality assurance methods been validated?
√ Is there assembly line/configuration management in place during production to record batches of munitions and parts? (e.g.: to permit investigation of defaults found during tests, training and use)?
√ When some parts of munitions are stored during the manufacturing process, are conditions and limited durations of storage known and applied? Are the parts checked before using?
√ Is the acceptance test procedure defined in accordance with national or international standards?