He writes: ” … Today, analysis of any war, rebellion or massacre tends to focus on political motives, who is the guilty party or on the kinds of weapons used. However, when the story extends to the victims, somehow rational argument gets lost to sentiment. If we witness directly acts of armed violence and their effects, logic deserts us; there is something about armed violence that is so profoundly shocking, or dare I say exciting, that it defies objective analysis. Perhaps this is as it should be but if we can look past what shocks us, there sits a health issue like all others – for it is undoubtedly a health issue for the victims – and this invites a preventive approach” … (full text).
Robin M. Coupland – England
Robin M Coupland is the adviser on armed violence and the effects of weapons for the International Committee of the Red Cross. He joined the ICRC in 1987 and worked as a field surgeon in Thailand, Cambodia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Angola, Somalia, Kenya and Sudan. He has developed a health-oriented approach to a variety of issues relating to the design and use of weapons. A graduate of the Cambridge University School of Clinical Medicine, UK, he trained as a surgeon at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital and University College Hospital, London. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1985.
As part of his current position he has focused on the effects of conventional and anti-personnel weapons. He has paid particular attention to the effects of anti-personnel mines and, by using the Red Cross wound classification, fragment injuries and the disruption of bullets. In promoting the concept of weapons as a health issue, his work led to the organisation in 1996 of the Montreux Symposium The medical profession and the effects of weapons and initiated the ‘SIrUS Project’ which, in turn, has led to an examination of international legal responsibility of governments to review new weapons and weapons’ systems. He has developed and published an analytical framework of armed violence as a tool for reporting and communication.
He has published a surgical textbook War wounds of limbs (in 1993) and many articles relating to the surgical management of war wounds and the effects of weapons. He has recently taken a year’s sabbatical leave from the ICRC to study for a Graduate Diploma in International Law at the University of Melbourne in Australia. (Centre for the Study of Human Rights).
He says: “If we’re talking about the ethics of weapon design, and that is what this panel is about, this is a consideration of the effects of weapons on the human victims. That is the only ethical basis of the discussion. If we look at any advances in science, ever, whether it be electronics, aviation, nucleonics, electricity, chemistry, at some point these advances have been turned to hostile use against humans, to the detriment of humans. And so what this means is that in the history of warfare there has been a kind of a line in the sand drawn which is attempted to keep out of the battlefield anything that involves toxicity on humans” … (full text).
Books and other Publications:
Effect of type and transfer of conventional weapons on civilian injuries, retrospective analysis of prospective data from Red Cross hospitals (1999), and also on this page;
War Wounds of Limbs – Surgical Management;
Weapons: A Question of Health? (1998);
Review of the legality of weapons, a new approach The SIrUS Project (1999).
Health and Human Rights, Vol. 7 No. 1, not dated;
19th Workshop of the Pugwash Study Group on the Implementation of the CBW Conventions, Oegstgeest, The Netherlands, 26-27 April 2003;
Geneva Forum Activities, “Inhumane” Weapons;
Cambridge University Press 0521857589 – Non-Lethal Weapons: The Law and Policy of Revolutionary Technologies for the Military and Law Enforcement, not dated.