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Geneva Convention

Geneva Convention

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 

  1. Creation of a Permanent Relief Agency to provide Humanitarian Aid. 
  2. 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 

  1. PoWs must not be tortured or mistreated.
  2. POW are only required to give their name, rank, Birthdate & serial number when captured.
  3. They must receive a suitable home and adequate quantities of food.
  4. Discrimination should be made.
  5. They possess right to correspond with family and appropriate care packages.
  6. Red Cross has right to visit them and examine their living conditions.
The convention provides for broad provisions regarding the protection of PoWs and Non-Combatants. Protocols to the convention were further added   Protocol first has substantially increased the provisions for the protection of civilians till now Geneva Convention applied only in cases on International Armed Conflict  But after WW2, all member nations thought of extending its application to other armed conflicts i.e., Civil War 

Protocol second enhanced its applicability from International conflicts to Non-International Conflicts  Third  Protocol talks about the emblem for Red Cross Society Geneva Convention along with its Protocols forms the core of Int. Humanitarian Law  Its objective is to minimize the effects of war - in Int. as well as Non-Int. Armed Conflicts