What is the Geneva Convention?

What is the Geneva Convention?

*The Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties agreed to between 1864 and 1949 that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in case of war.
*The conventions ensure that warring nations conduct themselves in a humane way with non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel, as well as with combatants no longer actively engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war and wounded or sick soldiers.

  Geneva Convention: Treatment and release of prisoners of war
How many treaties are there under the Convention?
*Overall, the Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties and three additional protocols.
First Geneva Convention:
             First adopted in 1864 then finally in 1949, the convention deals with the treatment of wounded and sick armed forces in the field.

Second Geneva Convention:
           First adopted in 1949 and successor of the Hague Convention of 1907, the convention deals with the sick, wounded and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea.

Third Geneva Convention:
           First adopted in 1929 and revised in 1949, the convention deals with the treatment of prisoners of war during times of conflict.
Fourth Geneva Convention:
          First adopted in 1949, based on parts of the Hague Convention, the convention deals with the treatment of civilians and their protection during wartime.

The three additional protocols are as follows:
Protocol I (1977): It relates to the protection of victims of international armed conflicts.
Protocol II (1977): It relates to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts.
Protocol III (2005): It relates to the adoption of an additional distinctive emblem.
*The whole set of conventions, with two revised and adopted and the second and fourth added, are together referred to as the Geneva Conventions of 1949 or simply Geneva Conventions.

How many countries ratified the agreement?
The Geneva Conventions of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries across the world.

When are the conventions applicable?

*The Geneva Conventions apply at times of war and armed conflict to governments who have ratified its terms. The further details of the applicability of the conventions have been explained in the following two common articles:

Common Article 2: Relating to international armed conflicts
*The provisions of the article state that the Geneva Conventions apply to all cases of international conflict, where at least one of the warring nations have ratified the Conventions.
* The Conventions apply to all cases of declared war between signatory nations.
* The Conventions also apply to all cases of armed conflict between two or more signatory nations, even in the absence of a declaration of war.
*They also apply to a signatory nation even if the opposing nation is not a signatory, but only if the opposing nation accepts and applies the provisions of the Conventions.

Common Article 3: Relating to non-international armed conflict
* The provisions of the article state that the certain minimum rules of war apply to armed conflicts where at least one party is not a state.
*It applies to conflicts between the government and rebel forces, or between two rebel forces, or to other conflicts that have all the characteristics of war, whether carried out within the confines of one country or not.
*The provisions of this article state that persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those overcome by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely.

*The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for. To ensure the same, the following acts are prohibited:
* Violence to life and person, in particular, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture.
*Taking of hostages.
* Outrages upon dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment.
*The passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court.

      Rights of Prisoners of War

Under the Third Geneva Convention, prisoners of war (POW) must be:
*Treated humanely with respect for their persons and their honor.
* Able to inform their next of kin and the International Committee of the Red Cross of their capture.
* Allowed to communicate regularly with relatives and receive packages.
*Given adequate food, clothing, housing, and medical attention.
* Paid for work done and not forced to do work that is dangerous, unhealthy or degrading.
* Released quickly after conflicts end.
*Not compelled to give any information except for the name, age, rank, and service number. Refusal to answer questions should not invite punishment.
* In addition, if wounded or sick on the battlefield, the prisoner will receive help from the International Committee of the Red Cross.
* Further, the use of PoWs as hostages or human shields is strictly prohibited.

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