The Laws of Armed Conflicts: A Collection of Conventions, Resolutions, and Other Documents

By Dietrich Schindler; Jiri Toman | Go to book overview

No. 40
FINALACT OF THE DIPLOMATIC CONFERENCE
1949 Signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949INTRODUCTORY NOTE: After the adoption of the two Geneva Conventions of 1929 attempts were made to supplement them by new regulations. The Geneva Conference of 1929, in its Final Act (No. 42), expressed the wish that a conference be convened with a view to regulating more comprehensively the use of medical aircraft in time of war and that an exhaustive study be made in order to prepare an international convention regarding the condition and protection of civilians of enemy nationality in the territory of a belligerent or in the territory occupied by a belligerent. The International Red Cross Conferences of Brussels (1930), Tokyo (1934) and London (1938) suggested the preparation of projects on further subjects (see No. 47). In January 1939, the Swiss Federal Council transmitted to all governments preliminary drafts, prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross, as a basis for a diplomatic conference that was planned to be convened in Geneva early in 1940 but could not take place due to the outbreak of World War II.The preliminary drafts dealt with the following subjects:
1. 1. revision of the Geneva Convention of 1929 for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick;
1. 2. revision of the Hague Convention of 1907 for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention;
1. 3. Draft Convention for the Adaptation to Air Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention;
1. 4. Draft Convention for the Establishment of Hospital and Safety Zones in Time of War;
1. 5. Draft Convention concerning the Condition and Protection of Civilians of Enemy Nationality in the Territory of a Belligerent or in the Territory Occupied by a Belligerent (cf. No. 47).

After the end of World War II new drafts were prepared that took account of the experience gained during the war. The two Geneva Conventions of 1929 as well as the Hague Convention of 1907 for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention were included in the revision. A new draft for the protection of civilians was drawn up. The four draft conventions were prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross with the assistance of a conference of government experts and were submitted to the International Red Cross Conference held at Stockholm in 1948. The Diplomatic Conference that adopted them in their final form took place from 21 April to 12 August 1949 in Geneva and assembled representatives of 63 governments.

The Conference made an innovation by grouping together the common provisions of the four Conventions. They embrace the general provisions, which are placed at the beginning of each Convention, the provisions on the repression of breaches of the Conventions and the final provisions.

Nearly all the states existing at present have ratified the four Conventions or adhered to them.

The Final Act has no force of law.

-453-

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