Geneva Conventions

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Three protocols and four supplementary treaties make up the Geneva Conventions, which establish the norms for conduct acceptable during times of conflict. The Geneva Convention was established in 1864 but underwent a significant revision in 1949.

Origins of the Geneva Conventions
  • Since the beginning of time, the laws of war have changed according to the many civilisations. While some, like the Babaolonians, were exceptional in their behaviour, the Roman Empire and the Mongols would not hesitate to burn entire towns or their inhabitants to the ground. Before Henry Durant arrived, this was the standard.
  • In order to acquire land for a business endeavor, Henry Durant, a businessman from Geneva, requested a meeting with Napolean II, a nephew of Napolean Bonaparte. The deadly Battle of Solferino, one of several fought during the Unification of Italy, was witnessed by him as he gained territories in northern Italy.
  • This motivated him to write a description of what he had seen while also outlining a proposal to lessen some of the bloodshed associated with war: the education of a volunteer group that would aid individuals afflicted by war, both civilians and soldiers alike.
  • As a result, an early version of the Red Cross was established to investigate Durant’s idea. Delegates from 16 countries gathered in Geneva in October 1863 to explore the conditions of humanitarian assistance during the conflict. The outcome was a convention known as the First Geneva Convention, which was signed by 12 countries.
The Geneva Conventions of 1906 and 1929

The Swiss government demanded a new convention to review and amend the original Geneva Convention as needed. The changes provided security for injured or captured prisoners of war as well as for the medical staff caring for, removing, and evacuating the deceased and injured.

The modifications made in 1929 to assure a civilized treatment of the prisoners of war followed the conclusion of World War I in 1919, when it was determined that the 1906 alterations were insufficient for humane conduct in times of conflict.

The Red Cross was established as the primary neutral organization to ensure the gathering and transfer of data regarding the death and wounded of combatants as a result of the new amendments, which also provided laws surrounding the everyday lives of prisoners.

Geneva Convention of 1949

Despite being a signatory to the Convention of 1929, Germany’s fascist regime continued to commit atrocious crimes against civilians and military personnel during World War II. As a result, in 1949, the Geneva Conventions were expanded to include noncombatants.

The amended articles additionally included clauses to safeguard:

  • Medical professionals, facilities, and tools
  • Civilians escorting military forces who are injured or ill
  • Soldiers’ chaplains
  • Armed civilians who resist occupying forces

The 1949 Convention provided greater protections for both male and female prisoners of war, including:

  • They must not be abused or subjected to torture.
  • When seized, they are simply asked to provide their name, rank, birthdate, and serial number.
  • They must also given sufficient lodging and enough food
  • They cannot be subjected to any form of discrimination.
  • They are allowed to communicate with family members and obtain care packages.
  • They may be visited and their living conditions may be inspected by the Red Cross.

Provisions were made to safeguard mothers and children as well as injured, ill, and pregnant individual.

Geneva Convention Protocols

The 1949 Conventions were expanded by Protocols I and II in 1977. During international armed conflicts, Protocol I strengthened protections for civilians, military personnel, and media. The use of “weapons that cause excessive harm or needless suffering” or “widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment” was also prohibited.

The International Committee of the Red Cross claims that brutal civil wars accounted for the majority of the casualties in armed conflicts since the 1949 Convention, leading to the establishment of Protocol II.

In addition, children should receive a quality education and care, and it is forbidden to do the following:

  • Issuing a hostage
  • Terrorism
  • Pillage
  • Slavery Punishment for a group
  • Treatment that is humiliating or demeaning

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