SNIPPETS of AMERICAN HISTORY: ‘ First Geneva Convention Defining Basis on Which Rests Rules of International Law for Protection of Victims of Armed Conflicts ‘

#AceHistory2ResearchNews – August 23 – In 1789 the people of France brought about the abolishment of the absolute monarchy and set the stage for the establishment of the first French Republic. Just six weeks after the storming of the Bastille, and barely three weeks after the abolition of feudalism, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (French: La Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen) was adopted by the National Constituent Assembly as the first step toward writing a constitution for the Republic of France.


The Declaration proclaims that all citizens are to be guaranteed the rights of “liberty, property, security, and resistance to oppression.” It argues that the need for law derives from the fact that “…the exercise of the natural rights of each man has only those borders which assure other members of the society the enjoyment of these same rights.” Thus, the Declaration sees law as an “expression of the general will,“ intended to promote this equality of rights and to forbid “only actions harmful to the society.”


The First Geneva Convention, for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field, is one of four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It defines "the basis on which rest the rules of international law for the protection of the victims of armed conflicts." The Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field was adopted in 1864.

It was significantly revised and replaced by the 1906 version, the 1929 version, and later the First Geneva Convention of 1949. It is inextricably linked to the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is both the instigator for the inception and enforcer of the articles in these conventions.

Successive Conventions and Treaties:

The First Geneva Convention was a precursor to successive acts of legislation related to humanitarian law. These included the 1899 treaties, concerning asphyxiating gases and expanding bullets. In 1907, 13 separate treaties were signed, followed in 1925 by the Geneva Gas Protocol, which prohibited the use of poison gas and the practice of bacteriological warfare.

In 1929, two more Geneva Conventions dealt with the treatment of the wounded and prisoners of war. In 1949, four Geneva Conventions extended protections to those shipwrecked at sea and to civilians.

The Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Property was signed in 1954, the United Nations Convention on Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Techniques followed in 1977, together with two Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions of 1949, extending their protections to civil wars.

There is no one "Geneva Convention." Like any other body of law, the laws of war have been assembled piecemeal, and are, in fact, still under construction.

References:

  1. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/INTRO/120?OpenDocument
  2. http://www.redcross.lv/en/conventions.htm
  3. http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/INTRO/120?OpenDocument

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