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All about the Geneva Convention

September 04, 2021
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This article has been written by Shivani Singh.

Introduction

Henry Dunant was a rich man from Geneva, Switzerland. Once for the expansion of his business, he reached the town called Solferino, Italy. In 1958, he found that the war was going between Italy, France, and Austria, and that war was called the Battle of Solferino. This battle led to the casualty of over 40,000 soldiers, of which 23000 were from Austria, and Austria lost the battle. After Accentuating all this in Italy, he was expedient, and without any discrimination between Italy, France, and Austria, he wanted to help them and initiated people to help who are not well or injured.

Dunant observed that Austrian soldiers who were injured and disabled were killed in Italy. Moved by the plight of the wounded, he wanted to help them out, and people who witnessed his work were touched by his gesture and joined it.

At this time, the phrase Tutti-Fratelli was very much used, and this phrase means that we all are brothers after returning to Switzerland; he wrote a book named Memory of Solferino in his book, he just not only shared his experience that at the time of war the loss which was faced by both of the countries whatever the country is facing and feeling and whichever country wins the war or who so has lost the war the country always feels bad about the warriors they have lost.

Dunant gave suggestions in his book. In his book, he also suggested prepositions, and the first preposition which he told was:-

Voluntarily relief society here Dunant meant to say that every country should make a voluntary relief society who without discrimination, help the injured people.

Also, at an international level, we should make an agreement that lays down principal to be followed during the time of war.

Dunant shared his book with all the leading European political and military leaders, and he received a positive reply from all of them; in the years 1963 to discuss the suggestions of Dunant books, a world meeting was called, and this meeting leads with two objectives, for humanitarian aid, there must be:-

For the formation of both of the organizations, Henry Dunant was awarded the first Nobel Peace Prize.

The 1st Geneva Convention was made in 1864, which states that at the time of war, conditions of the wounded and the sick in the armed forces in the field, how will they be treated, and on which condition they should be kept. The wounded shoulders should not be tortured and should not be given unnecessary pain. 

If the opponent gets injured, it’s their duty to fight the battle and must provide proper medical facilities. Anyone who, through religion, is involved in war should not be captured.

In 1906 2nd Geneva Convention was held, which states the protection of the wounded, the sick, and the Shipwrecked Military Personnel at Seas.

Issues 

After the 1st World War, it was clear that the countries were not taking these conventions seriously, the article and the treaties were taken for granted, and there were many things that were actually happening in the war field which were not covered in the first and 2nd Geneva Convention, and for it in the year 1929, the 3rd Geneva Convention which talked about Prisoners of War according to the convention Prisoners of War should be kept in a humanitarian condition also this Convention states that for these prisoners the International Red Cross Society will act as the neutral third party and will keep an eye over the prisoners of war.

The 3rd Geneva Convention, 1929, was signed and ratified by many nations, including Germany; at the time of the 2nd World War, the Geneva Convention could not stop; provisions of the Convention were grossly breached, especially by Germany. In 1929 Germany had signed the Geneva Convention, but at the time of the 2nd World War,  the Convention was infringed, and the civilians who were not involved were tortured. Jews were sent at the concentration camp large-scale ethnic cleansing, holocausts, scientific experiments on captured soldiers, and Jews had to face Biological Experiments and because of it 4th Geneva Convention in the year 1949 took place.

 

Percentage of POWs that Died

Russians POWs held by Germans

                  57.5%

German POWs held by Russians 

                  35.8%

American POWs held by Japanese

                  33.0%

German POWs held by Eastern Europeans

                  32.9%

British POWs held by Japanese

                  24.8%

German POEs held by French

                    3.5%

German POWs held by Americans

                  2.58%

The 4th Geneva Convention was a type of expansion, and it talked about the protection of non-combatants. They are the ones who directly don’t participate in war, for example, the injured ones, children, older people, pregnant women; this Convention covered all such people. Defining element of this Convention was the provision regarding prisoners of war and Non-Combatants (civilians). The 4th Geneva Convention 1949 Modified and Updated according to the lesson from the 2nd World War, every country in the is a party, and thus, this instrument is universally applicable.

4th Geneva Convention provides 6 rights to POWs

  1. Must not be tortured and mistreated. 
  2. They are only required to give Name/Rank/DOB/Serial no./Place where they got captured.
  3. They must receive suitable housing and an adequate amount of food.
  4. They should not be treated; differently, no discrimination should be made.
  5. They have the right to correspond with their family and receive care packages.
  6. The Red Cross has the right to visit POWs and examine their living conditions.

Main rules of Geneva Treaty

Role of Geneva Convention in ABHINANDAN rescue case

India joined the Geneva Convention on 9th November 1950 on 27th February when our external spokesperson Ravish Kumar confirmed that Pakistan Jet tried targeting Indian Military Installations short of MIG-21 LOST, and also Wing Commander Abhinandan. 

Geneva Convention played a vital role in rescuing our Wing Commander as per the third Geneva Convention, and the Convention applies to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the signatories even if the state war is not recognized by one of them. 

Article 4(A) of the Third Geneva Convention provides protection to prisoners of war or those who have fallen into enemy hands and fall into one of the six categories listed in the potential of the residents taking up arms as mentioned in Article 4(A) of the Third Geneva Convention. This is a situation in which land has not yet been seized, but is being invaded by an external force, and local residents of places in the line of invasion take up arms to oppose and protect their homes. There is no requirement that the invasion catches the populace off guard. 

In fact, such taking up arms also refers to a circumstance in which the people taking up weapons have been informed of the invasion but have not had enough time to organize themselves in accordance with Article 4(A) of the Third Geneva Convention, sub-paragraphs 1 and 2. In order for this rule to apply, it must be in the public interest. The protection provided to prisoners of war under the Third Geneva Convention begins when they are captured by the enemy and ends when they are finally released and repatriated. 

The term “fall into the power” refers to situations in which “soldiers became prisoners without fighting, for example following a surrender,” as well as those in which “persons specified in Article 4(A) of the Third Geneva Convention were captured during the conflict.” 

Article 13 

Prisoners of war must be treated humanely at all times. Any unlawful conduct or omission by the detaining power that results in the death or serious endangerment of a prisoner of war in its custody is prohibited and will be considered a major breach of the present Convention.

No prisoner of war may be subjected to bodily mutilation or medical or scientific experimentation of any type that is not authorized by the prisoner’s medical, dental, or hospital treatment and carried out in his best interests.

Similarly, prisoners of war must be protected at all times, especially from acts of violence or intimidation, as well as insults and public curiosity. Retaliatory measures against prisoners of war are forbidden.

Article 118

RELEASE AND REPATRIATION OF PRISONERS OF WAR AT THE CLOSE OF HOSTILITIES. After active hostilities have ended, prisoners of war must be liberated and repatriated as soon as possible. In the absence of stipulations to the above effect in any agreement reached between the parties to the conflict with a view to ending hostilities, or in the absence of such an agreement, each of the detaining powers shall establish and implement a plan of repatriation following the principles outlined in the preceding paragraph. In either situation, the prisoners of war must be informed of the actions that have been taken. In all situations, the costs of repatriation of prisoners of war must be shared equitably between the detaining Power and the power on which the detainees rely. This apportionment will be made based on the following criteria: 

  1. If the two powers are contiguous, the power on whose territory the prisoners of war rely bears the costs of repatriation from the detaining power’s frontiers.
  2. If the two powers are not contiguous, the detaining power bears the costs of transporting prisoners of war over its own territory as far as its frontier or port of embarkation nearest to the region of the power on whose territory the prisoners of war rely. The parties concerned must agree on a fair division of the remaining repatriation costs among themselves. Any delay in the repatriation of prisoners of war would not be excused by the conclusion of this agreement.

What happens if any country breaks the rule of war

Usually, every country has formed a legal framework to follow the rules described under this Convention. If any country breaks the law of the Geneva Convention, then the sovereign of that state will punish his armed forces then the country themselves play a vital role in enforcing the Geneva Convention. I am taking the guarantee that we will follow the Geneva Convention and if the rules I’m not followed then one will be punished.

If any country has infringed the rule prescribed and the government of such a country is not punishing their army, UNSC (United Nations Security Council) will intervene, and all the countries together can be forced to take over the trial and give punishment.


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