Geneva Conventions

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The Geneva Conventions are four treaties, and three additional protocols, that established internationally agreed legal standards for humanitarian behavior in wars. The Geneva Conventions concern only prisoners and non-combatants in war; they do not address the use of weapons of war, which are instead addressed by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907, which concern conventional weapons, and the Geneva Protocol, which concerns biological and chemical warfare.

The singular term Geneva Convention usually denotes the agreements of 1949, negotiated in the aftermath of the Second World War, which updated the terms of the two 1929 treaties and added two new conventions. These new Geneva Conventions extensively define the basic rights of wartime prisoners (civilians as well as military personnel), established protections for the wounded and sick, and provided humanitarian protections for civilians in and around a war-zone; moreover, the Geneva Convention also defines the rights and protections afforded to non-combatants. The treaties of 1949 were ratified, in their entirety or with reservations, by 196 countries.[1]


  1. State Parties / Signatories: Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949. International Humanitarian Law. International Committee of the Red Cross.