A fundamental principle of the laws of war is that choice of means of injuring an enemy is not unlimited, weapons should not cause superfluous injuries and they should not be employed indiscriminately against non-combatants and combatants. These provisions are being undermined by current means and strategies of warfare. The massive firepower of modern weapons systems and the use of chemical sprays, area weapons, delayed action fuses and a variety of means of environmental destruction tend to undermine those regulations intended as far as possible to protect civilian populations from the exigencies of armed conflict.
In addition to nuclear and bio-chemical weapons, those that appear likely to cause indiscriminate killing or injury if developed and employed, include high volume sound at ultra low frequencies (infrasonics); radiation - either electromagnetic (plasmic fire-balls, differential lightning bolts, huge standing waves, etc) or nuclear (neutron beams); and human biological energy (psychotronics). In 1994 it was reported that portable laser guns had been developed, and would soon be widely available, that resulted in instantaneous permanent blindness without the ability of individuals to defend themselves. It is expected that if this form of weaponry gets out of control it could introduce a new and unnecessarily harmful form of warfare.
The horror and perversity of war is immensely magnified by the addition of scientific weapons. For acts of war involving these weapons can inflict massive and indiscriminate destruction, thus going far beyond the bounds of legitimate defense. Indeed, if the kind of instruments which can now be found in the armories of the great nations were to be employed to their fullest, an almost total and altogether reciprocal slaughter of each side by the other would follow, not to mention the widespread devastation that would take place in the world and the deadly after effects that would be spawned by the use of weapons of this kind. The unique hazard of modern warfare consists in this: it provides those who possess modern scientific weapons with a kind of occasion for perpetrating just such abominations; moreover, through a certain inexorable chain of events, it can catapult men into the most atrocious decisions.
To be sure, scientific weapons are not amassed solely for use in war. Since the defensive strength of any nation is considered to be dependent upon its capacity for immediate retaliation, this accumulation of arms, which increases each year, likewise serves, in a way heretofore unknown, as deterrent to possible enemy attack. Many regard this procedure as the most effective way by which peace of a sort can be maintained between nations at the present time. (Second Vatican Council. Gaudium et Spes, 1965).
The Encyclopedia of World Problems and Human Potential is a collaboration between UIA and Mankind 2000, started in 1972. It is the result of an ambitious effort to collect and present information on the problems with which humanity is confronted, as well as the challenges such problems pose to concept formation, values and development strategies. Problems included are those identified in international periodicals but especially in the documents of some 60,000 international non-profit organizations, profiled in the Yearbook of International Organizations.
The Encyclopedia includes problems which such groups choose to perceive and act upon, whether or not their existence is denied by others claiming greater expertise. Indeed such claims and counter-claims figure in many of the problem descriptions in order to reflect the often paralyzing dynamics of international debate. In the light of the interdependence demonstrated among world problems in every sector, emphasis is placed on the need for approaches which are sufficiently complex to encompass the factions, conflicts and rival worldviews that undermine collective initiative towards a promising future.
Non-profit, apolitical, independent, and non-governmental in nature, the UIA has been a pioneer in the research, monitoring and provision of information on international organizations, international associations and their global challenges since 1907.