1949 December 8

Geneva Conventions Adopted

 

The 1949 Geneva Conventions — there are three separate Conventions — are the principal statements of international law regarding armed conflict. The three conventions are: (1) Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field; (2) Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea; and (3) Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea.

The Geneva Conventions became very relevant to the war on terror because the administration of George W. Bush argued that the U.S. was not bound by the Conventions. The Supreme disagreed, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld on June 29, 2006, holding that the U.S. was indeed bound to honor the Conventions.

Read Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions:

ARTICLE 3: “In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ‘hors de combat’ by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.

To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.” [more follows]

Learn more about the Geneva Conventions: http://www.icrc.org/eng/war-and-law/treaties-customary-law/geneva-conventions/index.jsp

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