Dictionary of Gross Human Rights Violations
The four Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949 provide a fundamental base for international humanitarian law (IHL). The conventions include: 1) Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, 2) Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, 3) Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, and 4) Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. The Geneva Conventions deal with many aspects of IHL including such things as the status of prisoners of war, torture, wanton destruction (of civilian areas), biological experimentation, the status of medical personnel as non-combatants, and the duties of occupying forces. There are many provisions of the Geneva Conventions that have become part of customary international law.
The four Geneva Conventions of 1949 have been supplemented by the three additional protocols: 1) Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Additional Protocol I, 1977); 2) Protocol additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Additional Protocol II, 1977); and Protocol additional to the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Additional Protocol III, 2005). The two Additional Protocols of 1977 add further depth to the regulations of the conventions and broaden the definition of who constitutes a “lawful combatant” to encompass irregular forces such as guerrilla groups. There is some controversy over whether Additional Protocol I and Additional Protocol II are part of customary international law, yet most scholars consider that at least parts of these documents have become customary. Additional Protocol III adds an additional distinctive emblem (used to designate medical personnel) to the red cross, red crescent, and red lion and sun.Back