Geneva Convention

By : Neha Dhyani

Updated : Apr 19, 2022, 6:23

The Geneva Conventions are a group of international treaties signed between 1864 and 1949 that define worldwide norms for humanitarian treatment in times of war.

The treaties ensure that combatants and non-combatants, including civilians and medical staff, are treated humanely, as are combatants no longer actively fighting, such as prisoners of war and injured or sick soldiers.

There are four treaties and three supplementary protocols that make up the Geneva Convention (drafts). This convention protects the human rights of prisoners of war. In 1864, the first treaty to preserve humanity was signed. The second treaty was signed in 1906, while the third treaty was signed in 1929. In 1949, 196 countries came together to form the fourth convention, which is still in effect today.

Treaties under Geneva Convention

The Geneva Conventions consist of four treaties and three protocols in total.

  • The first Geneva Convention dealt with the treatment of injured and sick armed forces in the field, and was first adopted in 1864, then again in 1949.
  • The Second Geneva Convention, which replaced the Hague Convention of 1907, deals with sick, injured, and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea. It was first adopted in 1949.
  • The Third Geneva Convention, which was first approved in 1929 and updated in 1949, governs the treatment of prisoners of war during times of war.
  • The Fourth Geneva Convention was first established in 1949, and it deals with the treatment of civilians and their protection during combat. It is based on elements of the Hague Convention.
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The following are the three different protocols:

  • Protocol I (1977): This protocol deals with protecting victims of international armed conflicts.
  • Protocol II (1977) concerns the protection of non-international armed conflict victims.
  • Protocol III (2005) concerns the development of a new distinguishing insignia.

The Geneva Accords of 1949, or simply Geneva Conventions, are the entire set of conventions, with two updated and adopted and the second and fourth added.

Main Rules of Geneva Convention

  • The adverse party is only allowed to ask questions about the POWs' name, military position, service number, and so on, but not about his religion, caste, or date of birth.
  • Prisoners of war are protected against all forms of violence and intimidation, public curiosity, and insults.
  • If a POW is injured, they should receive immediate medical attention.
  • POWs are entitled to all necessities such as food, water, shelter, and other supplies.
  • In all circumstances, POWs must be treated humanely.
  • The Geneva Treaty applies to them as soon as the opposing party apprehends the soldiers (male or female).

When are the Geneva Conventions Applicable?

The Geneva Conventions apply to countries that have ratified their stipulations during times of war and armed conflict. One hundred ninety-six countries worldwide have ratified the 1949 Geneva Conventions, either in whole or with reservations.

Geneva Conventions aim at saving the prisoners of war and they also safeguard humanity during times of war.

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FAQs on Geneva Conventions

Q.1. What are the Geneva Conventions for the Prisoners of War?

According to Article 118 of the third Geneva Convention, prisoners of war must be released and repatriated as soon as hostilities between the two countries cease. Any unjustified delay in the repatriation of a prisoner of war is a grave breach of the protocol.

Q.2. Who is in charge of ensuring that the Geneva Conventions are adhered to?

The Geneva Agreements have a "Protecting Powers" system that ensures that conflicting parties implement the conventions' terms. States that are not parties to the conflict must be designated as "Protecting Powers" by both sides. In practice, the position is usually filled by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Q.3. Is the Geneva Convention still in effect?

In 1949, after the end of World War II, States adopted the Four Geneva Conventions as they exist today.

Q.4. Can a country torture a Prisoner of War if it is a part of the Geneva Convention?

No, torture of prisoners of war is strictly prohibited under the Geneva Convention.