What are the Geneva Conventions? | The Laws Of Wars
If we rewind 70 years, to 1949, the atrocities of war loomed large in recent memory. More than 50 million were dead in the wake of World War II. Everyday people, like you and me; found themselves without adequate legal protections. And so we, as a world, vowed: we must do better. “A diplomatic conference brings together practically all the states of the world. It’s effect will be alleviate human suffering, to bring aid to all military and civilian persons incapacitated by wounds, sickness, captivity or loss of their freedom.” Strong limits were set on the brutalities of war through the Geneva Conventions to protect persons who aren’t in combat. In the years that followed, this system of protective yet realistic rules enabled the Geneva Conventions to make their way from the halls of law makers to the battlefield, where they matter most. A powerful message rang in the air: people, no matter where they stand or what they support, must be treated with humanity. And States now had the responsibility to make sure grave breaches committed during armed conflict will not go unpunished, regardless of where they take place. Today, we see the profound impact the Geneva Conventions continue to have around the globe. In The Democratic Republic of Congo, military officials pledged to stop rape and other forms of sexual violence amidst a civil war. “Please tell your fellow soldiers about this, so we can put an end to sexual violence. Because it affects the lives of many women. And not only many women, but also many families.” The stigma and destruction of dignity caused by sexual violence can upend the dynamics of communities. In Syria, last year, more than two million people were in need of access to essentials like food and medicine. And yet despite the clear need for rapid and unimpeded access, only a handful of convoys were able to provide assistance. “I was outside and a shell landed near me. The Syrian Arab Red Crescent helped me, they took me to the nearest treatment centre” Without humanitarian assistance provided for in the Conventions, the losses and trauma could have been even more catastrophic. The Geneva Conventions created a system of preventive measures to ensure that breaches of conduct would not occur, with an obligation for States to train their armed forces on the laws applicable during warfare. “All the soldiers received the rules of war as provided for by the Geneva Conventions. During the armed conflict one must respect the standards of humanity even with regard to the enemy.” Today, violations of the laws of war continue to be of concern to the ICRC. “The countries entrusted to the International Committee of the Red Cross the role of “guardian” of the law of war.” So we don’t own the law But it’s our job is to ensure that it is applied, understood, respected as much as possible and, where necessary, updated.” Every time a healthcare worker crosses through a checkpoint or essentials like food and water are provided to families in besieged cities, it’s made possible by the Geneva Conventions because even wars have limits.