Geneva Conventions – UPSC Prelims

Geneva Conventions:
  • It is a set of rules that prescribe guidelines for combatant behaviour during a war.
  • It comprises four treaties, standardised in 1949.
  • Three more protocols were later added which codify ethical and legal international norms for the humanitarian treatment of civilians who are affected by the war.
  • The convention mainly focuses on:
    • Treatment of civilians and prisoners of war
    • Restricting the use of conventional or biological and chemical weapons
  • The Conventions have been ratified by 196 states, including all UN member states.
  • India is a party to the Geneva Convention.
Four Geneva Conventions:
  • First Convention:
    • It safeguards wounded and sick soldiers on land during the war.
    • The convention also extends to medical and religious personnel.
  • Second Convention:
    • It safeguards wounded, sick and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during the war.
    • This Convention replaced the Hague Convention of 1907 for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention.
    • This convention also extends to hospital ships and medical transports by sea.
  • Third Convention:
    • It is the most famous convention among all and it applies to the prisoners of war.
    • It includes a wide range of guidelines with respect to the humane treatment of prisoners, conditions of captivity, evacuation of prisoners, transit camps, food, clothing, medical facilities, and hygiene.
    • It also guarantees rights to religious, intellectual, and physical activities for the prisoners.
  • Fourth Convention:
    • Unlike other conventions that protect the military personnel, this convention extends protection to the civilians including those in occupied territory.
Additional Protocols:
  • Additional Protocols of 1977:
    • Further increased the protection to the victims of international (Protocol I) and non-international (Protocol II) armed conflicts.
    • Protocol II was the first-ever international treaty dedicated exclusively to the instances of non-international armed conflicts.
  • Additional Protocols of 2005:
    • Created the Red Crystal as an additional emblem that has the same international status as that of Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems.
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