30 Years from the adoption of additional protocols I and II to the geneva conventions

Author:Beatrice Onica Jarka, Nicolae Titulescu University, Law Faculty

The article reflects in a concentrated form some of the International Humanitarian Law progress happened in the last 30 years from the adoption of the Additional Protocols I and II to the 1949 Geneva Conventions. This progress refer to the developing of customary humanitarian law, extension of the essence of the humanitarian law applicable to international armed conflicts to internal armed... (see full summary)


I. Introduction

Following the Diplomatic Conference on the Reaffirmation and Development of International Humanitarian Law Applicable in Armed Conflict, which took place in four sessions, on 8th of July 1977, Additional Protocol I and Additional Protocol II to the 1949Geneva Conventions were adopted The protocols were named in accordance with their content: the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the protection of victims of International Armed Conflicts - Protocol I and the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and relating to the Protection of Victims of Non- International Armed Conflicts - Protocol II.

The result of several years of ICRC's efforts, the two protocols have been moving forward the development of international humanitarian law on topics of greatest importance covering the protection of victims of armed conflicts.

II. The adoption of protocol I - significance

Additional Protocol I had not only developed the existing norms on the protection of wounded, sick and shipwrecked, methods and means of warfare - combatant and prisoner of war status, civilian population but had also introduced cornerstone marks in the protection of victims in international humanitarian law conflicts. Some of these cornerstone norms refer to the enlargement of the definition of international armed conflict to include armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (article I paragraph 4), the enlargement of the situations in which armed forces are recognized as such to extend the qualification of prisoners of war to categories of persons not covered by the general rule enunciated in the III Geneva convention (articles 43, 44 and 67) introduction of the categories of illegal combatants: spies and mercenaries (articles 46 and 47) limitation on parties to employ certain methods or means of warfare and definition of perfidy (articles 35, 37, 38, 40, 41 and 42) specific protection of prisoners of war against any medical

procedure which is not indicated by the state of health of the person concerned and which is not consistent with generally accepted medical standards which would be applied under similar medical circumstances to persons who are nationals of the Party conducting the procedure and who are in no way deprived of liberty, protection of civilian persons and property against attacks or threats of violence launched indiscriminately (articles 49, 51, 52, 54, 57, 58 ) protection of environment against widespread long term and sever damage (article 55), introduction of special protection for children (articles 77 and 78), women (article 76) refugees and stateless persons (article 73), journalists (article 79) and introduction of fundamental guarantees for persons who are in the power of a Party to the conflict and who do not benefit from more favorable treatment under the Conventions or under the Protocol without any adverse distinction based upon race, color, sex, language, religion or belief, political or other opinion, national or social origin, wealth, birth or other status, or on any other similar criteria (article 75).

III. The adoption of protocol II - significance

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts (Protocol II), 8 June 1977, represents one of the most important results achieved in international humanitarian law. Its adoption is the step from the rudimentary framework of minimum standards represented by article 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions to a detailed treaty applicable in internal armed conflicts....

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