Note: Just assume that there is also a Geneva convetion in this scenario because it is basically our earth in a few years in the future.

So, I just found of this news that the US had developed an electrolaser weapon.

Explanation: "It uses lasers to form an electrically conductive laser-induced plasma channel (LIPC). A fraction of a second later, a powerful electric current is sent down this plasma channel and delivered to the target".

Well, I already know from this question that such weaponry would require a loooot of energy, but I don't know if it is due to the laser or the lightning itself.


Anyway, the thing is that, in my scenario I was thinking about an anti-land-mine gun that used a similar principle.

But instead of using lasers, a small turbine would have an ion-gun (these exist and are used to purify the air or take out the electrostatic from objects) on one end, which it would create a constant flow of ionised air. And so, a small Tesla coil (or anything like this) would also make a constant flow of electricity, which would travel trough the ionised air and finally be attracted to the land-mines, forcing then to explode prematurely.

The thing is, that humans can also be destroyed by electricity, and soldiers started using the ionised air flow to electrocute enemies behind cover, corners and things alike.

However, it came to my mind that maybe this would be just too cruel to be allowed in a battlefield. It would come to how much time it would take to kill the enemies (if it was almost instantaneous, or slowly cooking them alive), or it would be straight up banned?

I couldn't find anything like that about war crimes, and it didn't surprise me since no one has ever used such weapon on the battlefield.

  • $\begingroup$ Given how every legal question ever is dependent upon the specific laws and caselaw in a specific jurisdiction how do you expect us to be able to make a legal determination about what is and isn't legal in your fictional world. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 15, 2021 at 23:54
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings Just assume that this fictional world is 1:1 to our World... $\endgroup$
    – Fulano
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:03
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Then you should edit that into your question. If you're curious about what is and isn't considered a war crime in the real world you might want to also show that you've put some effort into understanding what war crimes are in the eyes of the law. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If this is "our" world with real laws then this is a real-world question about a real (albeit undeployed) weapon's legality. Which makes this a question for Law SE. $\endgroup$ Nov 16, 2021 at 0:10
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ You might look at the St. Petersburg Declaration, one of the first multilateral bans on a weapon (exploding small arms ammunition), which laid out its case fairly straightforwardly. There, the key principle is that its cruelty should be weighed against its military utility - a weapon may be banned not because it is cruel but because it is needlessly cruel. $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Nov 16, 2021 at 0:11

1 Answer 1


Napalm isn't a war crime, so I'd say that this electrolaser certainly isn't. It's not a weapon designed to cause cruelty; it's a weapon designed to kill things.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Napalm is prohibited against civilians under CCW protocol III with other incendiary weapons, but like most matters pertaining to the law it quickly becomes complicated. That being said CCW III says nothing about electrolasers so [shrug]. See above commentary about why this question in it's current form isn't a good fit for this site. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 16, 2021 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings This isn't about civilians, though, this is about battlefield usage against combatants. $\endgroup$
    Nov 16, 2021 at 2:00
  • $\begingroup$ The question doesn't specify. Point being the legal standard of what is and what isn't a war crime is far more complicated than your answer would suggest. $\endgroup$
    – sphennings
    Nov 16, 2021 at 3:21

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