Third Geneva Convention

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Red Cross workers preparing food packages for prisoners of war POW Packages in 1942.jpg
Red Cross workers preparing food packages for prisoners of war

The Third Geneva Convention, relative to the treatment of prisoners of war, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. The Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was first adopted in 1929, but significantly revised at the 1949 conference. It defines humanitarian protections for prisoners of war. There are 196 state parties to the Convention.

Geneva Conventions Treaties establishing humanitarian laws of war

The Geneva Conventions comprise four treaties, and three additional protocols, that establish the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war. The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War (1939–45), which updated the terms of the two 1929 treaties, and added two new conventions. The Geneva Conventions extensively defined the basic rights of wartime prisoners, established protections for the wounded and sick, and established protections for the civilians in and around a war-zone. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in whole or with reservations, by 196 countries. Moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants, yet, because the Geneva Conventions are about people in war, the articles do not address warfare proper—the use of weapons of war—which is the subject of the Hague Conventions, and the bio-chemical warfare Geneva Protocol.

The Geneva Convention (1929) was signed at Geneva, July 27, 1929. Its official name is the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929. It entered into force 19 June 1931. It is this version of the Geneva Conventions which covered the treatment of prisoners of war during World War II. It is the predecessor of the Third Geneva Convention signed in 1949.

Contents

Part I: General provisions

Parties to GC I-IV and P I-III
Parties to GC I-IV and P I-II
Parties to GC I-IV and P I and III
Parties to GC I-IV and P I
Parties to GC I-IV and P III
Parties to GC I-IV and no P Parties to the Geneva Conventions.svg
  Parties to GC I–IV and P I–III
  Parties to GC I–IV and P I–II
  Parties to GC I–IV and P I and III
  Parties to GC I–IV and P I
  Parties to GC I–IV and P III
  Parties to GC I–IV and no P

This part sets out the overall parameters for GCIII:

Civil war war between organized groups within the same sovereign state or republic

A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war between organized groups within the same state or country. The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region or to change government policies. The term is a calque of the Latin bellum civile which was used to refer to the various civil wars of the Roman Republic in the 1st century BC.

Hors de combat is a French term used in diplomacy and international law to refer to persons who are incapable of performing their ability to wage war. Examples include fighter pilots or aircrews parachuting from their disabled aircraft, as well as the sick, wounded, detained, or otherwise disabled. Persons hors de combat are normally granted special protections according to the laws of war, sometimes including prisoner-of-war status, and therefore officially become non-combatants.

Guarantee is a legal term more comprehensive and of higher import than either warranty or "security". It most commonly designates a private transaction by means of which one person, to obtain some trust, confidence or credit for another, engages to be answerable for him. It may also designate a treaty through which claims, rights or possessions are secured. It is to be differentiated from the colloquial "personal guarantee" in that a Guarantee is a legal concept which produces an economic effect. A personal guarantee by contrast is often used to refer to a promise made by an individual which is supported by, or assured through, the word of the individual. In the same way, a guarantee produces a legal effect wherein one party affirms the promise of another by promising to themselves pay if default occurs.

Part II: General Protection of Prisoners of War

This part of the convention covers the status of prisoners of war.

Article 12 states that prisoners of war are the responsibility of the state, not the persons who capture them, and that they may not be transferred to a state that is not party to the Convention.

Articles 13 to 16 state that prisoners of war must be treated humanely without any adverse discrimination and that their medical needs must be met.

Part III: Captivity

This part is divided into several sections:

Section 1 covers the beginning of captivity (Articles 17–20). It dictates what information a prisoner must give and interrogation methods that the detaining power may use: "No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion". It dictates what private property a prisoner of war may keep and that the prisoner of war must be evacuated from the combat zone as soon as possible.

Section 2 covers the internment of prisoners of war and is broken down into 8 chapters which cover:

  1. General observations (Articles 21–24)
  2. Quarters, food and clothing (Articles 25–28)
  3. Hygiene and medical attention (Articles 29–32)
  4. The treatment of enemy medical personnel and chaplains retained to assist prisoners of war (Article 33)
  5. Religious, intellectual and physical activities (Articles 34–38)
  6. Discipline (Articles 39–42)
  7. Military rank (Articles 43–45)
  8. Transfer of prisoners of war after their arrival in a camp (Articles 46–48)

Section 3 (Articles 49–57) covers the type of labour that a prisoner of war may be compelled to do, taking such factors as rank, age, and sex into consideration, and that which because it is unhealthy or dangerous can only be done by prisoners of war who volunteer for such work. It goes into details about such things as the accommodation, medical facilities, and that even if the prisoner of war works for a private person the military authority remains responsible for them. Rates of pay for work done are covered by Article 62 in the next section.

Section 4 (Articles 58–68) covers the financial resources of prisoners of war.

Section 5 (Articles 69–74) covers the relations of prisoners of war with the exterior. This covers the frequency of which a prisoner of war can send and receive post, including parcels. The Detaining power has the right to censor all mail, but must do so as quickly as possible.

Section 6 covers the relations between prisoners of war and the detaining authorities: it is broken down into three chapters.

  1. Complaints of prisoners of war respecting the conditions of captivity(Article 78)
  2. Prisoner of war representatives (Articles 79–81). Where there is no senior officer available in a camp the section stipulates that "prisoners shall freely elect by secret ballot, [a representative] every six months". The representative, whether the senior officer or an elected person, acts as a conduit between the authorities of the detaining power and the prisoners.
  3. The sub-section on "Penal and disciplinary sanctions" is subdivided into three parts:
    1. General provisions (Articles 82–88)
    2. Disciplinary sanctions (Articles 89–98)
    3. Juridical proceedings (Articles 99–108)

Part IV: Termination of Captivity

This part is divided into several sections:

Section 1 (Articles 109–117) covers the direct repatriation and accommodation in neutral countries.

Section 2 (Articles 118–119) covers the release and repatriation of prisoners of war at the close of hostilities.

Section 3 (Articles 120–121) covers the death of a prisoner of war.

Part V: Information Bureau and Relief Societies for Prisoners of War

The Information Bureau is an organisation that must be set up by the Detaining Power to facilitate the sharing of information by the parties to conflict and neutral powers as required by the various provisions of the Third Geneva Convention. It will correspond freely with "A Central Prisoners of War Information Agency ... created in a neutral country" to act as a conduit with the Power to which the prisoners of war owe their allegiance. The provisions of this part are contained in Articles 122 to 125.

The central prisoners of war information agency was created within the Red Cross.

Part VI: Execution of the Convention

Consists of two sections.

Section 1 (Articles 126–132) General provisions.

Section 2 (Articles 133–143) Final provisions.

See also

Code of the United States Fighting Force

The Code of the U.S. Fighting Force is a code of conduct that is an ethics guide and a United States Department of Defense directive consisting of six articles to members of the United States Armed Forces, addressing how they should act in combat when they must evade capture, resist while a prisoner or escape from the enemy. It is considered an important part of U.S. military doctrine and tradition, but is not formal military law in the manner of the Uniform Code of Military Justice or public international law, such as the Geneva Conventions.

Command responsibility

Command responsibility, sometimes referred to as the Yamashita standard or the Medina standard, and also known as superior responsibility, is the legal doctrine of hierarchical accountability for war crimes.

Unlawful combatant person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war

An unlawful combatant, illegal combatant or unprivileged combatant/belligerent is a person who directly engages in armed conflict in violation of the laws of war. An unlawful combatant may be detained or prosecuted under the domestic law of the detaining state for such action, subject to international treaties on justice and human rights.

Related Research Articles

Prisoner of war person who is held in custody by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict

A prisoner of war (POW) is a person, whether combatant or non-combatant, who is held in custody by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase "prisoner of war" dates to 1660.

Torture intentional infliction of physical or mental suffering upon a person or an animal, in order to punish or to coerce, or for sheer cruelty

Torture is the act of deliberately inflicting severe physical or psychological suffering on someone by another as a punishment or in order to fulfill some desire of the torturer or force some action from the victim. Torture, by definition, is a knowing and intentional act; deeds which unknowingly or negligently inflict suffering or pain, without a specific intent to do so, are not typically considered torture. Torture has been carried out or sanctioned by individuals, groups, and states throughout history from ancient times to modern day, and forms of torture can vary greatly in duration from only a few minutes to several days or longer. Reasons for torture can include punishment, revenge, political re-education, deterrence, coercion of the victim or a third party, interrogation to extract information or a confession irrespective of whether it is false, or simply the sadistic gratification of those carrying out or observing the torture. Alternatively, some forms of torture are designed to inflict psychological pain or leave as little physical injury or evidence as possible while achieving the same psychological devastation. The torturer may or may not kill or injure the victim, but torture may result in a deliberate death and serves as a form of capital punishment. Depending on the aim, even a form of torture that is intentionally fatal may be prolonged to allow the victim to suffer as long as possible. In other cases, the torturer may be indifferent to the condition of the victim.

Fourth Geneva Convention

The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted in August 1949. While the first three conventions dealt with combatants, the Fourth Geneva Convention was the first to deal with humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone. There are currently 196 countries party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, including this and the other three treaties.

A civilian is "a person who is not a member of the military or of a police or firefighting force". The term "civilian" is slightly different from a non-combatant under the law of war, as some non-combatants are not civilians. Under international law, civilians in the territories of a party to an armed conflict are entitled to certain privileges under the customary laws of war and international treaties such as the Fourth Geneva Convention. The privileges that they enjoy under international law depends on whether the conflict is an internal one or an international one.

Combatant is the legal status of an individual who has the right to engage in hostilities during an international armed conflict. The legal definition of "combatant" is found at article 43 of Additional Protocol One to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 [AP1]. It states that "Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities."

Non-combatant is a term of art in the law of war and international humanitarian law, describing civilians who are not taking a direct part in hostilities; persons—such as combat medics and military chaplains—who are members of the belligerent armed forces but are protected because of their specific duties ; combatants who are placed hors de combat; and neutral nationals who are not fighting for one of the belligerents involved in an armed conflict. This particular status was first recognized under the Geneva Conventions with the First Geneva Convention of 1864.

International humanitarian law (IHL) is the law that regulates the conduct of war. It is that branch of international law which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict by protecting persons who are not participating in hostilities, and by restricting and regulating the means and methods of warfare available to combatants.

Stress and duress is a term which has been used by the United States to describe interrogation techniques authorized for use by the United States Armed Forces upon detainees who are determined to be a threat to the United States during the War on Terrorism. These techniques are claimed to cause "inhuman and degrading treatment" but which the George W. Bush administration claims do not cause "suffering of the particular intensity and cruelty implied by the word torture".

An enemy combatant is a person who, either lawfully or unlawfully, directly engages in hostilities for an enemy state or non-state actor in an armed conflict. Prior to 2008, the definition was: "Any person in an armed conflict who could be properly detained under the laws and customs of war." In the case of a civil war or an insurrection the term "enemy state" may be replaced by the more general term "Party to the conflict".

Additional Protocol II 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions

Protocol II is a 1977 amendment protocol to the Geneva Conventions relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts. It defines certain international laws that strive to provide better protection for victims of internal armed conflicts that take place within the borders of a single country. The scope of these laws is more limited than those of the rest of the Geneva Conventions out of respect for sovereign rights and duties of national governments.

Detention (imprisonment) removal of the freedom of liberty by a state

Detention is the process whereby a state or private citizen lawfully holds a person by removing his or her freedom or liberty at that time. This can be due to (pending) criminal charges preferred against the individual pursuant to a prosecution or to protect a person or property. Being detained does not always result in being taken to a particular area, either for interrogation or as punishment for a crime.

Military Commissions Act of 2006

The United States Military Commissions Act of 2006, also known as HR-6166, was an Act of Congress signed by President George W. Bush on October 17, 2006. The Act's stated purpose was "to authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes".

The Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field, consisting of 39 articles in French, was adopted on 27 July 1929, at the end of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1929, which met from the 27 July until the 1 August of that year.

Prisoners' rights in international law are found in a number of international treaties. For the most part these treaties came into existence following the two World Wars and the body of law continues to be added to and amended.

Protected persons

Protected persons is a legal term under international humanitarian law and refers to persons who are under specific protection of the 1949 Geneva Conventions, their 1977 Additional Protocols, and customary international humanitarian law during an armed conflict.

References