The main conventions designed to regulate conduct during the war are:
(1949 Conventions & Additional Protocols)
- Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
This Convention represents the fourth version of the Geneva Convention on the wounded and sick after those adopted in 1864, 1906, and 1929. The fundamental principles as well as the division into chapters remained the same as in the preceding version with the exception of the new introductory chapter on general provisions.
Changes were made especially in Chapter IV (personnel). Hitherto, medical personnel and chaplains falling into enemy hands had to be immediately repatriated. The 1949 Convention, taking account of changed conditions of warfare, provides that they may in certain circumstances be retained to care for prisoners of war. In the chapter on medical transports, it was provided that medical aircraft may in certain circumstances fly over neutral territory.
- Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick, and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
The present Convention replaced the Hague Convention (X) of 1907 for the Adaptation to Maritime Warfare of the Principles of the Geneva Convention. It contains 63 Articles whereas the 1907 Convention had only 28. In its structure, the 1949 Convention follows closely the provisions of the Geneva Convention (I) of 1949.
- Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
The present Convention replaced the Prisoners of War Convention of 1929. It contains 143 Articles whereas the 1929 Convention had only 97. The Convention establishes the principle that prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities (Article 118).
- Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
The 1929 Diplomatic Conference, which revised the Geneva Convention on wounded and sick and drew up the Convention on the treatment of prisoners of war, limited itself to recommending that “studies should be made with a view to concluding a convention on the protection of civilians in enemy territory and in enemy-occupied territory.”
The great bulk of the Convention (Part III – Articles 27-141) puts forth the regulations governing the status and treatment of protected persons; these provisions distinguish between the situation of foreigners on the territory of one of the parties to the conflict and that of civilians in occupied territory. The Convention does not invalidate the provisions of the Hague Regulations of 1907 on the same subjects but is supplementary to them (see Article 154 of the Convention).