CONVENTION (IV) RELATIVE TO THE PROTECTION
OF CIVILIAN PERSONS IN TIME OF WAR
Signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949
INTRODUCTORY NOTE: The Geneva Conventions which were adopted before 1949 were concerned with combatants only, not with civilians. Some provisions concerning the protection of populations against the consequences of war and their protection in occupied territories are contained in the Hague Regulations of 1899 and 1907 (Nos. 7 and 8, Annexes). During World War I the Hague provisions proved to be insufficient in view of the dangers originating from air warfare and of the problems relating to the treatment of civilians in enemy territory and in occupied territories. The International Red Cross Conferences of the 1920s took the first steps towards laying down supplementary rules for the protection of civilians in time of war. The 1929 Diplomatic Conference, which revised the Convention on wounded and sick and drew up the Convention on prisoners of war, recommended mat studies should be made with a view to concluding a convention on the protection of civilians in enemy territory and in enemy occupied territory. A draft convention prepared by the International Committee of the Red Cross was approved by the International Red Cross Conference in Tokyo in 1934 (No. 47). It was to be submitted to a diplomatic conference planned for 1940, but this was postponed on account of the war. The events of World War II showed the disastrous consequences of the absence of a convention for the protection of civilians in wartime. The Convention adopted in 1949 takes account of the experiences of World War II. It contains a rather short part concerning the general protection of populations against certain consequences of war (Part II) leaving aside the problem of the limitation of the use of weapons. The great bulk of the Convention deals with civilians in enemy territory and in occupied territory. The Convention does not invalidate the provisions of the Hague Regulations of 1907 on the same subjects but is supplementary to mem (see Article 154 of the Convention).
ENTRY INTO FORCE: 21 October 1950.
AUTHENTIC TEXTS: English and French. The text below is reprinted from the Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. I, Federal Political Department, Berne, pp. 297–341.
The marginal titles added to the articles of the present Convention have no official character and were not adopted by the Diplomatic Conference. They were drafted by the Conference Secretariat and are used in the edition of the Geneva Conventions published by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
TEXT PUBLISHED IN: See indications under No. 48.