The Geneva Conventions
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)
There has been four conventions held in Geneva, Switzerland to deal with the issues about how people of various classes are treated by the opposing forces during times of armed conflicts. The very first convention was inspired by a man by the name of Henry Dunant, who in 1862, publish a book, "Memoir of Sulferino," which dealt with his personal observance of the horrors of war. His wartime experiences inspired Dunant to propose:
- A permanent relief agency for humanitarian aid in times of war
- A government treaty recognizing the neutrality of the agency and allowing it to provide aid in a war zone
The former proposal led to the establishment of the Red Cross in Geneva. The latter led to the First Geneva Convention. For both of these accomplishments, Henry Dunant became corecipient of the first Nobel Peace Prize in 1901.
The ten articles of this first treaty were initially adopted on August 22, 1864 by twelve nations. Clara Barton was instrumental in campaigning for the ratification of the First Geneva Convention by the United States, which eventually ratified it in 1882.
Below are the Articles of Each Convention. The very first one from 1864 contained only 10 Articles. The most current which was held in 1949 is divided up into four separate "Conventions" dealing with four separate classes of war time "Protected" people, each containing well over a hundred and forty articles.
|Ratified||Convention||On-Line||MS Word||Adobe Reader|
|1864, Aug. 22||Convention - For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field||Read||Download||Download|
|1906, Jul. 06||Convention - For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field||Read||Download||Download|
|1926, Jul. 27||Convention - For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field||Read||Download||Download|
|1949, Aug. 12||Convention I - For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field||Read||Download||Download|
|Convention II - For the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea||Read||Download||Download|
|Convention III - Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War||Read||Download||Download|
|Convention IV - Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War||Read||Download||Download|