Geneva Conventions

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  • Topic: Geneva Conventions, Laws of war, War crime
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Geneva Conventions

By: Maksim S. Yelkin
Course: American Foreign Policy
Professor: Ronald J. Brown
Semester: Fall 2011
Date: 12/03/11

Introduction
Now we live in relatively peaceful time, but it wasn’t always like that. All those wars were bloody, sometimes even too bloody, so people needed to create some rules. So those rules were created.

Four Conventions for One Purpose
Not everybody knows that, but there were four treaties, not just one. And even then, they were modified later with three amendment protocols. I will start with a brief overview. First Geneva Convention was adopted in 1864 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Second Geneva Convention was adopted in 1906 for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea. Third Geneva Convention was adopted in 1929, and it was related to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Finally, Fourth Geneva Convention was adopted in 1949, and it was related to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. It collected all points of previous one while adding many new points. So, when people say about singular Geneva Convention, they usually mean this one. Later is was modified with two protocols in 1977 when modifications were related to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts and the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. Latest modification was made in 2005 when an Additional Distinctive Emblem was adopted. The Conventions are inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions. They changed the world with their aspiration to protect the rights of non-combatants. This quote is a nice example: Protected persons are entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall, at all times, be humanely treated, and shall be protected, especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof and against insults and public curiosity. Women shall be especially protected against any attack on their honour, in particular against rape, enforced prostitution, or any form of indecent assault. Without prejudice to the provisions relating to their state of health, age and sex, all protected persons shall be treated with the same consideration by the Party to the conflict in whose power they are, without any adverse distinction based, in particular, on race, religion or political opinion. However, the Parties to the conflict may take such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war. — Article 27, Fourth Geneva Convention (1949)

The First Geneva Convention
The First Geneva Convention, for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, defines "the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts. It was adopted in 1864 and then updated three times. Back then, it was a very critical period for European history, both military and political. Situation in Western Europe was relatively peaceful between the fall of the first Napoleon (the Battle of Waterloo in 1815) and the rise of Napoleon III (Italian campaign of 1859), but when the conflict in the Crimea took place, powers couldn’t maintain peace anymore. Henri Dunant was a man who gave the world idea of creating an international set of laws governing the treatment and care for the wounded and prisoners of war. He witnessed the Battle of Solferino in 1859, fought between Austrian and French-Piedmontese armies in Northern Italy. Around forty thousands of soldiers were wounded and left on the battlefield. The reason for that was a lack of personnel, facilities, and truces to give the soldiers any kind of medical...
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