The Legality of the Use of White Phosphorus by the United States Military during the 2004 Fallujah Assaults


The assaults on Fallujah by the United States military in April and November 2004 involved the use of white phosphorus. White phosphorus has extremely damaging effects on the health of victims, including severe burns and irritation of the respiratory system. This article examines whether the use of white phosphorus was a violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, Protocol III to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and international humanitarian law. It concludes that the use of white phosphorus was illegal as it could be argued to be a chemical weapon, a riot control agent, or incendiary weapon. Furthermore, the methods and means of its use in Fallujah violated the wars of law.


Constitutional Law | Human Rights Law | International Law | Law and Politics | Law and Society | Military, War, and Peace

Date of this Version

January 2007