Geneva Convention Henry Dunant was a businessman from Switzerland for the purpose of business expansion, In 1859, he visited Solferino, Italy During his visit, Italy and France went into war with Austria This war is famously known as 'Battle of Solferino' Austria lost the war but this war led to a total a casualty of 40,000 soldiers
Looking at all this, Henry, who is still present there rushes to provide aid and assistance to wounded and sick soldiers while doing so he does not discriminate between the soldiers; whether he is from Italy or France or Austria and also urges others to participate in the aid of sick and wounded during this time, the phrase 'Tutti Fratelli' became very popular which means 'We are all brothers'
Upon his return to Switzerland Remembering his experiences from the war, he writes a book 'A memory of Solferino' in which he shares his understanding of war - what a country goes through, losses incurred and whether a country wins or loses, both are shattered by the lives lost! But in this book, he did not just share his experiences he also suggested a solution. He suggests these two things:
- A Voluntary Relief Society which acts as a Neutral Third-party to take care of the sick and injured, without discrimination
- Formation of an International Agreement which lays down the principles to be followed during the war. Henry distributed his book to almost all leading and influential military and political leaders across Europe! and the book was positively accepted. in 1863, a World meeting was called for in an effort to actualize his solutions which has two main objectives
- Creation of a Permanent Relief Agency to provide Humanitarian Aid.
- An International Treaty - with different Govt. to provide a Neutral Third Party to provide aid in war zones
The first objective led to the formation of the International Committee of Red Cross And for 2nd Objective, Geneva Convention was signed on 22nd August 1864 It was these 2 solutions and contribution that Henry Dunant was awarded 1st Nobel Peace Prize.
1st Geneva Convention - 1864 it talks about the treatment and Condition of Wounded and the Sick in the armed forces, during the war
2nd Geneva Convention - 1906 it talks about “Protecting the Wounded, the sick and the Shipwrecked Military Personnel at Sea” But after the WW1 (1914-18) It was realized that most countries were not respecting the Geneva and Hague Conventions.
3rd Geneva Convention - 1929 it talks about 'Prisoners of War' the Convention says that Prisoners of War should be kept and treated humanely and it also says that with respect to Prisoners of War, IRCS will act as a neutral 3rd party at the time of war. 3rd Geneva Convention was signed by many countries, including Germany but during the WW2, the 3rd Convention could not stop Germany from exercising all sorts of power Like military camps, Concentration camps, biological experiments, etc. That's why the 4th Geneva Convention took place in 1949 it was an expansion of the previous Conventions
This convention has provisions regarding Prisoners of War and Non-combatants (Civilians) Non-Combatants are those who are not direct participants of the war like children, Pregnant women, Senior citizens, sick, wounded, etc.
4th Geneva Convention extends to provide protection to POW and Non-Combatants lets have a look at some of the concerned provisions Article 9 (Common provision)- It says that ICRC shall not be obstructed Now looking at what all was done during the world war 2 and to stop History repeating itself Article 12-16 were inserted these articles provide the protection to POW and Non-combatants and provides that they cannot be murdered, tortured or exposed to biological experiments.
In addition to above-mentioned provisions, following provisions have also been laid down under 1949 conventions for Prisoners of War because once taken in custody, these people cannot help in war 4th Geneva Convention provides the following 6 rights to POW
- PoWs must not be tortured or mistreated.
- POW are only required to give their name, rank, Birthdate & serial number when captured.
- They must receive a suitable home and adequate quantities of food.
- Discrimination should be made.
- They possess right to correspond with family and appropriate care packages.
- Red Cross has right to visit them and examine their living conditions.