Chapter I. General Provisions
Art 1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure
respect for the present Convention in all circumstances.
Art. 2. In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in
peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war
or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the
High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one
The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or
total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party, even if the
said occupation meets with no armed resistance.
Although one of the Powers in conflict may not be a party to the present
Convention, the Powers who are parties thereto shall remain bound by it in
their mutual relations. They shall furthermore be bound by the Convention in
relation to the said Power, if the latter accepts and applies the provisions
Art. 3. In the case of armed
conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one
of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound
to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:
(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including
members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed
hors de combat by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall
in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse
distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or
wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following
acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place
whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:
to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel
treatment and torture;
(b) taking of hostages;
(c) outrages upon
personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;
(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without
previous judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted court,
affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as
indispensable by civilized peoples.
(2) The wounded and sick shall be
collected and cared for.
An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee
of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.
The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force,
by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal
status of the Parties to the conflict.
Art. 4. Neutral Powers shall apply by analogy the provisions of the
present Convention to the wounded and sick, and to members of the medical
personnel and to chaplains of the armed forces of the Parties to the
conflict, received or interned in their territory, as well as to dead
Art. 5. For the protected persons who have fallen into the hands of the
enemy, the present Convention shall apply until their final repatriation.
Art. 6. In addition to the agreements expressly provided for in Articles
10, 15, 23, 28, 31, 36, 37 and 52, the High Contracting Parties may conclude
other special agreements for all matters concerning which they may deem it
suitable to make separate provision. No special agreement shall adversely
affect the situation of the wounded and sick, of members of the medical
personnel or of chaplains, as defined by the present Convention, nor
restrict the rights which it confers upon them.
Wounded and sick, as well as medical personnel and chaplains, shall
continue to have the benefit of such agreements as long as the Convention is
applicable to them, except where express provisions to the contrary are
contained in the aforesaid or in subsequent agreements, or where more
favourable measures have been taken j with regard to them by one or other of
the Parties to the conflict.
Art. 7. Wounded and sick, as well as members of the medical personnel and
chaplains, may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the
rights secured to them by the present Convention, and by the special
agreements referred to in the foregoing Article, if such there be.
Art. 8. The present Convention shall be applied with the cooperation and
under the scrutiny of the Protecting Powers whose duty it is to safeguard
the interests of the Parties to the conflict. For this purpose, the
Protecting Powers may appoint, apart from their diplomatic or consular
staff, delegates from amongst their own nationals or the nationals of other
neutral Powers. The said delegates shall be subject to the approval of the
Power with which they are to carry out their duties.
The Parties to the conflict shall facilitate to the greatest extent
possible, the task of the representatives or delegates of the Protecting
The representatives or delegates of the Protecting Powers shall not in
any case exceed their mission under the present Convention. They shall, in
particular, take account of the imperative necessities of security of the
State wherein they carry out their duties. Their activities shall only be
restricted as an exceptional and temporary measure when this is rendered
necessary by imperative military necessities.
Art. 9. The provisions of the present Convention constitute no obstacle
to the humanitarian activities which the International Committee of the Red
Cross or any other impartial humanitarian organization may, subject to the
consent of the Parties to the conflict concerned, undertake for the
protection of wounded and sick, medical personnel and chaplains, and for
Art. 10. The High Contracting Parties may at any time agree to entrust to
an organization which offers all guarantees of impartiality and efficacy the
duties incumbent on the Protecting Powers by virtue of the present
When wounded and sick, or medical personnel and chaplains do not benefit
or cease to benefit, no matter for what reason, by the activities of a
Protecting Power or of an organization provided for in the first paragraph
above, the Detaining Power shall request a neutral State, or such an
organization, to undertake the functions performed under the present
Convention by a Protecting Power designated by the Parties to a conflict.
If protection cannot be arranged accordingly, the Detaining Power shall
request or shall accept, subject to the provisions of this Article, the
offer of the services of a humanitarian organization, such as the
International Committee of the Red Cross, to assume the humanitarian
functions performed by Protecting Powers under the present Convention.
Any neutral Power, or any organization invited by the Power concerned or
offering itself for these purposes, shall be required to act with a sense of
responsibility towards the Party to the conflict on which persons protected
by the present Convention depend, and shall be required to furnish
sufficient assurances that it is in a position to undertake the appropriate
functions and to discharge them impartially.
No derogation from the preceding provisions shall be made by special
agreements between Powers one of which is restricted, even temporarily, in
its freedom to negotiate with the other Power or its allies by reason of
military events, more particularly where the whole, or a substantial part,
of the territory of the said Power is occupied.
Whenever, in the present Convention, mention is made of a Protecting
Power, such mention also applies to substitute organizations in the sense of
the present Article.
Art. 11. In cases where they deem it advisable in the interest of
protected persons, particularly in cases of disagreement between the Parties
to the conflict as to the application or interpretation of the provisions of
the present Convention, the Protecting Powers shall lend their good offices
with a view to settling the disagreement.
For this purpose, each of the Protecting Powers may, either at the
invitation of one Party or on its own initiative, propose to the Parties to
the conflict a meeting of their representatives, in particular of the
authorities responsible for the wounded and sick, members of medical
personnel and chaplains, possibly on neutral territory suitably chosen. The
Parties to the conflict shall be bound to give effect to the proposals made
to them for this purpose. The Protecting Powers may, if necessary, propose
for approval by the Parties to the conflict, a person belonging to a neutral
Power or delegated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, who
shall be invited to take part in such a meeting
Chapter II. Wounded and Sick
Art. 12. Members of the armed forces and other persons mentioned in the
following Article, who are wounded or sick, shall be respected and protected
in all circumstances.
They shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Party to the conflict
in whose power they may be, without any adverse distinction founded on sex,
race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or any other similar
criteria. Any attempts upon their lives, or violence to their persons, shall
be strictly prohibited; in particular, they shall not be murdered or
exterminated, subjected to torture or to biological experiments; they shall
not wilfully be left without medical assistance and care, nor shall
conditions exposing them to contagion or infection be created.
Only urgent medical reasons will authorize priority in the order of
treatment to be administered.
Women shall be treated with all consideration due to their sex. The Party
to the conflict which is compelled to abandon wounded or sick to the enemy
shall, as far as military considerations permit, leave with them a part of
its medical personnel and material to assist in their care.
Art. 13. The present Convention shall apply to the wounded and sick
belonging to the following categories:
(1) Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict, as well
as members of militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed
(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer
corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a
Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory,
even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or
volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil
the following conditions:
(a) that of being commanded by a person
responsible for his subordinates;
(b) that of having a fixed
distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) that of carrying
(d) that of conducting their operations in accordance
with the laws and customs of war.
(3) Members of regular armed forces
who profess allegiance to a Government or an authority not recognized by
the Detaining Power.
(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces
without actually being members thereof, such as civil members of
military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply contractors, members
of labour units or of services responsible for the welfare of the armed
forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed
forces which they accompany.
(5) Members of crews, including masters,
pilots and apprentices, of the merchant marine and the crews of civil
aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do not benefit by more
favourable treatment under any other provisions in international law.
(6) Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the
enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading forces, without
having had time to form themselves into regular armed units, provided
they carry arms openly and respect the laws and customs of war.
Art. 14. Subject to the provisions of Article 12, the wounded and sick of
a belligerent who fall into enemy hands shall be prisoners of war, and the
provisions of international law concerning prisoners of war shall apply to
Art. 15. At all times, and particularly after an engagement, Parties to
the conflict shall, without delay, take all possible measures to search for
and collect the wounded and sick, to protect them against pillage and
ill-treatment, to ensure their adequate care, and to search for the dead and
prevent their being despoiled.
Whenever circumstances permit, an armistice or a suspension of fire shall
be arranged, or local arrangements made, to permit the removal, exchange and
transport of the wounded left on the battlefield.
Likewise, local arrangements may be concluded between Parties to the
conflict for the removal or exchange of wounded and sick from a besieged or
encircled area, and for the passage of medical and religious personnel and
equipment on their way to that area.
Art. 16. Parties to the conflict
shall record as soon as possible, in respect of each wounded, sick or dead
person of the adverse Party falling into their hands, any particulars which
may assist in his identification.
These records should if possible
(a) designation of the Power on which he depends;
regimental, personal or serial number;
(d) first name
(e) date of birth;
(f) any other particulars shown on
his identity card or disc;
(g) date and place of capture or death;
(h) particulars concerning wounds or illness, or cause of death.
As soon as possible the above mentioned information shall be forwarded to
the Information Bureau described in Article 122 of the Geneva Convention
relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949, which shall
transmit this information to the Power on which these persons depend through
the intermediary of the Protecting Power and of the Central Prisoners of War
Parties to the conflict shall prepare and forward to each other through
the same bureau, certificates of death or duly authenticated lists of the
dead. They shall likewise collect and forward through the same bureau one
half of a double identity disc, last wills or other documents of importance
to the next of kin, money and in general all articles of an intrinsic or
sentimental value, which are found on the dead. These articles, together
with unidentified articles, shall be sent in sealed packets, accompanied by
statements giving all particulars necessary for the identification of the
deceased owners, as well as by a complete list of the contents of the
Art. 17. Parties to the conflict
shall ensure that burial or cremation of the dead, carried out individually
as far as circumstances permit, is preceded by a careful examination, if
possible by a medical examination, of the bodies, with a view to confirming
death, establishing identity and enabling a report to be made. One half of
the double identity disc, or the identity disc itself if it is a single
disc, should remain on the body.
Bodies shall not be cremated except for imperative reasons of hygiene or
for motives based on the religion of the deceased. In case of cremation, the
circumstances and reasons for cremation shall be stated in detail in the
death certificate or on the authenticated list of the dead.
They shall further ensure that the dead are honourably interred, if
possible according to the rites of the religion to which they belonged, that
their graves are respected, grouped if possible according to the nationality
of the deceased, properly maintained and marked so that they may always be
found. For this purpose, they shall organize at the commencement of
hostilities an Official Graves Registration Service, to allow subsequent
exhumations and to ensure the identification of bodies, whatever the site of
the graves, and the possible transportation to the home country. These
provisions shall likewise apply to the ashes, which shall be kept by the
Graves Registration Service until proper disposal thereof in accordance with
the wishes of the home country.
As soon as circumstances permit, and at latest at the end of hostilities,
these Services shall exchange, through the Information Bureau mentioned in
the second paragraph of Article 16, lists showing the exact location and
markings of the graves, together with particulars of the dead interred
Art. 18. The military authorities may appeal to the charity of the
inhabitants voluntarily to collect and care for, under their direction, the
wounded and sick, granting persons who have responded to this appeal the
necessary protection and facilities. Should the adverse Party take or retake
control of the area, he shall likewise grant these persons the same
protection and the same facilities.
The military authorities shall permit the inhabitants and relief
societies, even in invaded or occupied areas, spontaneously to collect and
care for wounded or sick of whatever nationality. The civilian population
shall respect these wounded and sick, and in particular abstain from
offering them violence.
No one may ever be molested or convicted for having nursed the wounded or
The provisions of the present Article do not relieve the occupying Power
of its obligation to give both physical and moral care to the wounded and
Chapter III. Medical Units and Establishments
Art. 19. Fixed establishments and mobile medical units of the Medical
Service may in no circumstances be attacked, but shall at all times be
respected and protected by the Parties to the conflict. Should they fall
into the hands of the adverse Party, their personnel shall be free to pursue
their duties, as long as the capturing Power has not itself ensured the
necessary care of the wounded and sick found in such establishments and
The responsible authorities shall ensure that the said medical
establishments and units are, as far as possible, situated in such a manner
that attacks against military objectives cannot imperil their safety.
Art. 20. Hospital ships entitled to the protection of the Geneva
Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and
Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of 12 August 1949, shall not be
attacked from the land.
Art. 21. The protection to which fixed establishments and mobile medical
units of the Medical Service are entitled shall not cease unless they are
used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the
enemy. Protection may, however, cease only after a due warning has been
given, naming, in all appropriate cases, a reasonable time limit, and after
such warning has remained unheeded.
Art. 22. The following conditions shall not be considered as depriving a
medical unit or establishment of the protection guaranteed by Article 19:
(1) That the personnel of the unit or establishment are armed, and
that they use the arms in their own defence, or in that of the wounded
and sick in their charge.
(2) That in the absence of armed orderlies,
the unit or establishment is protected by a picket or by sentries or by
(3) That small arms and ammunition taken from the wounded
and sick and not yet handed to the proper service, are found in the unit
(4) That personnel and material of the veterinary
service are found in the unit or establishment, without forming an
integral part thereof.
(5) That the humanitarian activities of
medical units and establishments or of their personnel extend to the
care of civilian wounded or sick.
Art. 23. In time of peace, the High Contracting Parties and, after the
outbreak of hostilities, the Parties thereto, may establish in their own
territory and, if the need arises, in occupied areas, hospital zones and
localities so organized as to protect the wounded and sick from the effects
of war, as well as the personnel entrusted with the organization and
administration of these zones and localities and with the care of the
persons therein assembled.
Upon the outbreak and during the course of hostilities, the Parties
concerned may conclude agreements on mutual recognition of the hospital
zones and localities they have created. They may for this purpose implement
the provisions of the Draft Agreement annexed to the present Convention,
with such amendments as they may consider necessary.
The Protecting Powers and the International Committee of the Red Cross
are invited to lend their good offices in order to facilitate the
institution and recognition of these hospital zones and localities.
Chapter IV. Personnel
Art. 24. Medical personnel exclusively engaged in the search for, or the
collection, transport or treatment of the wounded or sick, or in the
prevention of disease, staff exclusively engaged in the administration of
medical units and establishments, as well as chaplains attached to the armed
forces, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances.
Art. 25. Members of the armed forces specially trained for employment,
should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary
stretcher-bearers, in the search for or the collection, transport or
treatment of the wounded and sick shall likewise be respected and protected
if they are carrying out these duties at the time when they come into
contact with the enemy or fall into his hands.
Art. 26. The staff of National Red Cross Societies and that of other
Voluntary Aid Societies, duly recognized and authorized by their
Governments, who may be employed on the same duties as the personnel named
in Article 24, are placed on the same footing as the personnel named in the
said Article, provided that the staff of such societies are subject to
military laws and regulations.
Each High Contracting Party shall notify to the other, either in time of
peace or at the commencement of or during hostilities, but in any case
before actually employing them, the names of the societies which it has
authorized, under its responsibility, to render assistance to the regular
medical service of its armed forces.
Art. 27. A recognized Society of a neutral country can only lend the
assistance of its medical personnel and units to a Party to the conflict
with the previous consent of its own Government and the authorization of the
Party to the conflict concerned. That personnel and those units shall be
placed under the control of that Party to the conflict.
The neutral Government shall notify this consent to the adversary of the
State which accepts such assistance. The Party to the conflict who accepts
such assistance is bound to notify the adverse Party thereof before making
any use of it.
In no circumstances shall this assistance be considered as interference
in the conflict.
The members of the personnel named in the first paragraph shall be duly
furnished with the identity cards provided for in Article 40 before leaving
the neutral country to which they belong.
Art. 28. Personnel designated in Articles 24 and 26 who fall into the
hands of the adverse Party, shall be retained only in so far as the state of
health, the spiritual needs and the number of prisoners of war require.
Personnel thus retained shall not be deemed prisoners of war.
Nevertheless they shall at least benefit by all the provisions of the Geneva
Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949.
Within the framework of the military laws and regulations of the Detaining
Power, and under the authority of its competent service, they shall continue
to carry out, in accordance with their professional ethics, their medical
and spiritual duties on behalf of prisoners of war, preferably those of the
armed forces to which they themselves belong. They shall further enjoy the
following facilities for carrying out their medical or spiritual duties:
(a) They shall be authorized to visit periodically the prisoners
of war in labour units or hospitals outside the camp. The Detaining
Power shall put at their disposal the means of transport required.
(b) In each camp the senior medical officer of the highest rank shall be
responsible to the military authorities of the camp for the professional
activity of the retained medical personnel. For this purpose, from the
outbreak of hostilities, the Parties to the conflict shall agree
regarding the corresponding seniority of the ranks of their medical
personnel, including those of the societies designated in Article 26. In
all questions arising out of their duties, this medical officer, and the
chaplains, shall have direct access to the military and medical
authorities of the camp who shall grant them the facilities they may
require for correspondence relating to these questions.
retained personnel in a camp shall be subject to its internal
discipline, they shall not, however, be required to perform any work
outside their medical or religious duties.
During hostilities the Parties to the conflict shall make arrangements
for relieving where possible retained personnel, and shall settle the
procedure of such relief.
None of the preceding provisions shall relieve the Detaining Power of the
obligations imposed upon it with regard to the medical and spiritual welfare
of the prisoners of war.
Art. 29. Members of the personnel designated in Article 25 who have
fallen into the hands of the enemy, shall be prisoners of war, but shall be
employed on their medical duties in so far as the need arises.
Art. 30. Personnel whose retention is not indispensable by virtue of the
provisions of Article 28 shall be returned to the Party to the conflict to
whom they belong, as soon as a road is open for their return and military
Pending their return, they shall not be deemed prisoners of war.
Nevertheless they shall at least benefit by all the provisions of the Geneva
Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949.
They shall continue to fulfil their duties under the orders of the adverse
Party and shall preferably be engaged in the care of the wounded and sick of
the Party to the conflict to which they themselves belong.
On their departure, they shall take with them the effects, personal
belongings, valuables and instruments belonging to them.
Art. 31. The selection of personnel for return under Article 30 shall be
made irrespective of any consideration of race, religion or political
opinion, but preferably according to the chronological order of their
capture and their state of health.
As from the outbreak of hostilities, Parties to the conflict may
determine by special agreement the percentage of personnel to be retained,
in proportion to the number of prisoners and the distribution of the said
personnel in the camps.
Art. 32. Persons designated in Article 27 who have fallen into the hands
of the adverse Party may not be detained.
Unless otherwise agreed, they shall have permission to return to their
country, or if this is not possible, to the territory of the Party to the
conflict in whose service they were, as soon as a route for their return is
open and military considerations permit.
Pending their release, they shall continue their work under the direction
of the adverse Party; they shall preferably be engaged in the care of the
wounded and sick of the Party to the conflict in whose service they were. On
their departure, they shall take with them their effects personal articles
and valuables and the instruments, arms and if possible the means of
transport belonging to them.
The Parties to the conflict shall secure to this personnel, while in
their power, the same food, lodging, allowances and pay as are granted to
the corresponding personnel of their armed forces. The food shall in any
case be sufficient as regards quantity, quality and variety to keep the said
personnel in a normal state of health.
Chapter V. Buildings and Material
Art. 33. The material of mobile medical units of the armed forces which
fall into the hands of the enemy, shall be reserved for the care of wounded
The buildings, material and stores of fixed medical establishments of the
armed forces shall remain subject to the laws of war, but may not be
diverted from that purpose as long as they are required for the care of
wounded and sick. Nevertheless, the commanders of forces in the field may
make use of them, in case of urgent military necessity, provided that they
make previous arrangements for the welfare of the wounded and sick who are
nursed in them.
The material and stores defined in the present Article shall not be
Art. 34. The real and personal property of aid societies which are
admitted to the privileges of the Convention shall be regarded as private
The right of requisition recognized for belligerents by the laws and
customs of war shall not be exercised except in case of urgent necessity,
and only after the welfare of the wounded and sick has been ensured.
Chapter VI. Medical Transports
Art. 35. Transports of wounded and sick or of medical equipment shall be
respected and protected in the same way as mobile medical units.
Should such transports or vehicles fall into the hands of the adverse
Party, they shall be subject to the laws of war, on condition that the Party
to the conflict who captures them shall in all cases ensure the care of the
wounded and sick they contain.
The civilian personnel and all means of transport obtained by requisition
shall be subject to the general rules of international law.
Art. 36. Medical aircraft, that is to say, aircraft exclusively employed
for the removal of wounded and sick and for the transport of medical
personnel and equipment, shall not be attacked, but shall be respected by
the belligerents, while flying at heights, times and on routes specifically
agreed upon between the belligerents concerned.
They shall bear, clearly marked, the distinctive emblem prescribed in
Article 38, together with their national colours on their lower, upper and
lateral surfaces. They shall be provided with any other markings or means of
identification that may be agreed upon between the belligerents upon the
outbreak or during the course of hostilities.
Unless agreed otherwise, flights over enemy or enemy-occupied territory
Medical aircraft shall obey every summons to land. In the event of a
landing thus imposed, the aircraft with its occupants may continue its
flight after examination, if any.
In the event of an involuntary landing in enemy or enemy-occupied
territory, the wounded and sick, as well as the crew of the aircraft shall
be prisoners of war. The medical personnel shall be treated according to
Article 24 and the Articles following.
Art. 37. Subject to the provisions of the second paragraph, medical
aircraft of Parties to the conflict may fly over the territory of neutral
Powers, land on it in case of necessity, or use it as a port of call. They
shall give the neutral Powers previous notice of their passage over the said
territory and obey all summons to alight, on land or water. They will be
immune from attack only when flying on routes, at heights and at times
specifically agreed upon between the Parties to the conflict and the neutral
The neutral Powers may, however, place conditions or restrictions on the
passage or landing of medical aircraft on their territory. Such possible
conditions or restrictions shall be applied equally to all Parties to the
Unless agreed otherwise between the neutral Power and the Parties to the
conflict, the wounded and sick who are disembarked, with the consent of the
local authorities, on neutral territory by medical aircraft, shall be
detained by the neutral Power, where so required by international law, in
such a manner that they cannot again take part in operations of war. The
cost of their accommodation and internment shall be borne by the Power on
which they depend.
Chapter VII. The Distinctive Emblem
Art. 38. As a compliment to Switzerland, the heraldic emblem of the red
cross on a white ground, formed by reversing the Federal colours, is
retained as the emblem and distinctive sign of the Medical Service of armed
Nevertheless, in the case of countries which already use as emblem, in
place of the red cross, the red crescent or the red lion and sun on a white
ground, those emblems are also recognized by the terms of the present
Art. 39. Under the direction of the competent military authority, the
emblem shall be displayed on the flags, armlets and on all equipment
employed in the Medical Service.
Art. 40. The personnel designated in Article 24 and in Articles 26 and 27
shall wear, affixed to the left arm, a water-resistant armlet bearing the
distinctive emblem, issued and stamped by the military authority.
Such personnel, in addition to wearing the identity disc mentioned in
Article 16, shall also carry a special identity card bearing the distinctive
emblem. This card shall be water-resistant and of such size that it can be
carried in the pocket. It shall be worded in the national language, and
shall mention at least the surname and first names, the date of birth, the
rank and the service number of the bearer, and shall state in what capacity
he is entitled to the protection of the present Convention. The card shall
bear the photograph of the owner and also either his signature or his
finger-prints or both. It shall be embossed with the stamp of the military
The identity card shall be uniform throughout the same armed forces and,
as far as possible, of a similar type in the armed forces of the High
Contracting Parties. The Parties to the conflict may be guided by the model
which is annexed, by way of example, to the present Convention. They shall
inform each other, at the outbreak of hostilities, of the model they are
using. Identity cards should be made out, if possible, at least in
duplicate, one copy being kept by the home country.
In no circumstances may the said personnel be deprived of their insignia
or identity cards nor of the right to wear the armlet. In case of loss, they
shall be entitled to receive duplicates of the cards and to have the
Art. 41. The personnel designated in Article 25 shall wear, but only
while carrying out medical duties, a white armlet bearing in its centre the
distinctive sign in miniature; the armlet shall be issued and stamped by the
Military identity documents to be carried by this type of personnel shall
specify what special training they have received, the temporary character of
the duties they are engaged upon, and their authority for wearing the
Art. 42. The distinctive flag of the Convention shall be hoisted only
over such medical units and establishments as are entitled to be respected
under the Convention, and only with the consent of the military authorities.
In mobile units, as in fixed establishments, it may be accompanied by the
national flag of the Party to the conflict to which the unit or
Nevertheless, medical units which have fallen into the hands of the enemy
shall not fly any flag other than that of the Convention. Parties to the
conflict shall take the necessary steps, in so far as military
considerations permit, to make the distinctive emblems indicating medical
units and establishments clearly visible to the enemy land, air or naval
forces, in order to obviate the possibility of any hostile action.
Art. 43. The medical units belonging to neutral countries, which may have
been authorized to lend their services to a belligerent under the conditions
laid down in Article 27, shall fly, along with the flag of the Convention,
the national flag of that belligerent, wherever the latter makes use of the
faculty conferred on him by Article 42.
Subject to orders to the contrary by the responsible military
authorities, they may on all occasions fly their national flag, even if they
fall into the hands of the adverse Party.
Art. 44. With the exception of the cases mentioned in the following
paragraphs of the present Article, the emblem of the red cross on a white
ground and the words " Red Cross" or " Geneva Cross " may not be employed,
either in time of peace or in time of war, except to indicate or to protect
the medical units and establishments, the personnel and material protected
by the present Convention and other Conventions dealing with similar
matters. The same shall apply to the emblems mentioned in Article 38, second
paragraph, in respect of the countries which use them. The National Red
Cross Societies and other societies designated in Article 26 shall have the
right to use the distinctive emblem conferring the protection of the
Convention only within the framework of the present paragraph.
Furthermore, National Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Lion and Sun)
Societies may, in time of peace, in accordance with their rational
legislation, make use of the name and emblem of the Red Cross for their
other activities which are in conformity with the principles laid down by
the International Red Cross Conferences. When those activities are carried
out in time of war, the conditions for the use of the emblem shall be such
that it cannot be considered as conferring the protection of the Convention;
the emblem shall be comparatively small in size and may not be placed on
armlets or on the roofs of buildings.
The international Red Cross organizations and their duly authorized
personnel shall be permitted to make use, at all times, of the emblem of the
red cross on a white ground.
As an exceptional measure, in conformity with national legislation and
with the express permission of one of the National Red Cross (Red Crescent,
Red Lion and Sun) Societies, the emblem of the Convention may be employed in
time of peace to identify vehicles used as ambulances and to mark the
position of aid stations exclusively assigned to the purpose of giving free
treatment to the wounded or sick.
Chapter VIII. Execution of the Convention
Art. 45. Each Party to the conflict, acting through its
Commanders-in-Chief, shall ensure the detailed execution of the preceding
Articles, and provide for unforeseen cases, in conformity with the general
principles of the present Convention.
Art. 46. Reprisals against the wounded, sick, personnel, buildings or
equipment protected by the Convention are prohibited.
Art. 47. The High Contracting Parties undertake, in time of peace as in
time of war, to disseminate the text of the present Convention as widely as
possible in their respective countries, and, in particular, to include the
study thereof in their programmes of military and, if possible, civil
instruction, so that the principles thereof may become known to the entire
population, in particular to the armed fighting forces, the medical
personnel and the chaplains.
Art. 48. The High Contracting Parties shall communicate to one another
through the Swiss Federal Council and, during hostilities, through the
Protecting Powers, the official translations of the present Convention, as
well as the laws and regulations which they may adopt to ensure the
Chapter IX. Repression of Abuses and Infractions
Art. 49. The High Contracting Parties undertake to enact any legislation
necessary to provide effective penal sanctions for persons committing, or
ordering to be committed, any of the grave breaches of the present
Convention defined in the following Article.
Each High Contracting Party shall be under the obligation to search for
persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such
grave breaches, arid shall bring such persons, regardless of their
nationality, before its own courts. It may also, if it prefers, and in
accordance with the provisions of its own legislation, hand such persons
over for trial to another High Contracting Party concerned, provided such
High Contracting Party has made out a prima facie case.
Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the
suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention
other than the grave breaches defined in the following Article.
In all circumstances, the accused persons shall benefit by safeguards of
proper trial and defence, which shall not be less favourable than those
provided by Article 105 and those following, of the Geneva Convention
relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of 12 August 1949.
Art. 50. Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be
those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or
property protected by the Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman
treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great
suffering or serious injury to body or health, and extensive destruction and
appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried
out unlawfully and wantonly.
Art. 51. No High Contracting Party shall be allowed to absolve itself or
any other High Contracting Party of any liability incurred by itself or by
another High Contracting Party in respect of breaches referred to in the
Art. 52. At the request of a Party to the conflict, an enquiry shall be
instituted, in a manner to be decided between the interested Parties,
concerning any alleged violation of the Convention.
If agreement has not been reached concerning the procedure for the
enquiry, the Parties should agree on the choice of an umpire who will decide
upon the procedure to be followed.
Once the violation has been established, the Parties to the conflict
shall put an end to it and shall repress it with the least possible delay.
Art. 53. The use by individuals, societies, firms or companies either
public or private, other than those entitled thereto under the present
Convention, of the emblem or the designation " Red Cross " or " Geneva Cross
" or any sign or designation constituting an imitation thereof, whatever the
object of such use, and irrespective of the date of its adoption, shall be
prohibited at all times.
By reason of the tribute paid to Switzerland by the adoption of the
reversed Federal colours, and of the confusion which may arise between the
arms of Switzerland and the distinctive emblem of the Convention, the use by
private individuals, societies or firms, of the arms of the Swiss
Confederation, or of marks constituting an imitation thereof, whether as
trademarks or commercial marks, or as parts of such marks, or for a purpose
contrary to commercial honesty, or in circumstances capable of wounding
Swiss national sentiment, shall be prohibited at all times.
Nevertheless, such High Contracting Parties as were not party to the
Geneva Convention of 27 July 1929, may grant to prior users of the emblems,
designations, signs or marks designated in the first paragraph, a time limit
not to exceed three years from the coming into force of the present
Convention to discontinue such use provided that the said use shall not be
such as would appear, in time of war, to confer the protection of the
The prohibition laid down in the first paragraph of the present Article
shall also apply, without effect on any rights acquired through prior use,
to the emblems and marks mentioned in the second paragraph of Article 38.
Art. 54. The High Contracting Parties shall, if their legislation is not
already adequate, take measures necessary for the prevention and repression,
at all times, of the abuses referred to under Article 53
Art. 55. The present Convention is established in English and in French.
Both texts are equally authentic.
The Swiss Federal Council shall arrange for official translations of the
Convention to be made in the Russian and Spanish languages.
Art. 56. The present Convention, which bears the date of this day, is
open to signature until 12 February 1950, in the name of the Powers
represented at the Conference which opened at Geneva on 21 April 1949;
furthermore, by Powers not represented at that Conference but which are
Parties to the Geneva Conventions of 1864, 1906 or 1929 for the Relief of
the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field.
Art. 57. The present Convention shall be ratified as soon as possible and
the ratifications shall be deposited at Berne. A record shall be drawn up of
the deposit of each instrument of ratification and certified copies of this
record shall be transmitted by the Swiss Federal Council to all the Powers
in whose name the Convention has been signed, or whose accession has been
Art. 58. The present Convention shall come into force six months after
not less than two instruments of ratification have been deposited.
Thereafter, it shall come into force for each High Contracting Party six
months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification.
Art. 59. The present Convention replaces the Conventions of 22 August
1864, 6 July 1906, and 27 July 1929, in relations between the High
Art. 60. From the date of its coming into force, it shall be open to any
Power in whose name the present Convention has not been signed, to accede to
Art. 61. Accessions shall be notified in writing to the Swiss Federal
Council, and shall take effect six months after the date on which they are
The Swiss Federal Council shall communicate the accessions to all the
Powers in whose name the Convention has been signed, or whose accession has
Art. 62. The situations provided for in Articles 2 and 3 shall give
immediate effect to ratifications deposited and accessions notified by the
Parties to the conflict before or after the beginning of hostilities or
occupation. The Swiss Federal Council shall communicate by the quickest
method any ratifications or accessions received from Parties to the
Art. 63. Each of the High Contracting Parties shall be at liberty to
denounce the present Convention.
The denunciation shall be notified in writing to the Swiss Federal
Council, which shall transmit it to the Governments of all the High
The denunciation shall take effect one year after the notification
thereof has been made to the Swiss Federal Council. However, a denunciation
of which notification has been made at a time when the denouncing Power is
involved in a conflict shall not take effect until peace has been concluded,
and until after operations connected with release and repatriation of the
persons protected by the present Convention have been terminated.
The denunciation shall have effect only in respect of the denouncing
Power. It shall in no way impair the obligations which the Parties to the
conflict shall remain bound to fulfil by virtue of the principles of the law
of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized
peoples, from the laws of humanity and the dictates of the public
Art. 64. The Swiss Federal Council shall register the present Convention
with the Secretariat of the United Nations. The Swiss Federal Council shall
also inform the Secretariat of the United Nations of all ratifications,
accessions and denunciations received by it with respect to the present
In witness whereof the undersigned, having deposited their respective
full powers, have signed the present Convention.
Done at Geneva this twelfth day of August 1949, in the English and French
languages. The original shall be deposited in the archives of the Swiss
Confederation. The Swiss Federal Council shall transmit certified copies
thereof to each of the Signatory and Acceding States.
Annex I. Draft Agreement Relating to Hospital Zones and Localities
Article 1. Hospital zones shall be strictly observed for the persons
named in Article 23 of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the
Condition of the Wounded and Sick in the Armed Forces in the Field of 12
August 1949, and for the personnel entrusted with the organization and
administration of these zones and localities, and with the care of the
persons therein assembled.
Nevertheless, persons whose permanent residence is within such zones
shall have the right to stay there.
Art. 2. No persons residing, in whatever capacity, in a hospital zone
shall perform any work, either within or without the zone, directly
connected with military operations or the production of war material.
Art. 3. The Power establishing a hospital zone shall take all necessary
measures to prohibit access to all persons who have no right of residence or
Art. 4. Hospital zones shall fulfil the following conditions:
(a) They shall comprise only a small part of the territory
governed by the Power which has established them.
(b) They shall be
thinly populated in relation to the possibilities of accommodation.
(c) They shall be far removed and free from all military objectives, or
large industrial or administrative establishments.
(d) They shall not
be situated in areas which, according to every probability, may become
important for the conduct of the war.
Art. 5. Hospital zones shall be subject to the following obligations:
(a) The lines of communication and means of transport which they
possess shall not be used for the transport of military personnel or
material, even in transit.
(b) They shall in no case be defended by
Art. 6. Hospital zones shall be marked by means of red crosses (red
crescents, red lions and suns) on a white background placed on the outer
precincts and on the buildings. They may be similarly marked at night by
means of appropriate illumination.
Art. 7. The Powers shall communicate to all High Contracting Parties in
peacetime or on the outbreak of hostilities, a list of the hospital zones in
the territories governed by them. They shall also give notice of any new
zones set up during hostilities.
As soon as the adverse Party has receive the above-mentioned
notification, the zone shall be regularly constituted.
If, however, the adverse Party considers that the conditions of the
present agreement have not been fulfilled, it may refuse to recognize the
zone by giving immediate notice thereof to the Party responsible for the
said Zone, or may make its recognition of such zone dependent upon the
institution of the control provided for in Article 8.
Art. 8. Any Power having recognized one of several hospital zones
instituted by the adverse Party shall be entitled to demand control by one
or more Special Commissioners, for the purpose of ascertaining if the zones
fulfil the conditions and obligations stipulated in the present agreement.
For this purpose, the members of the Special Commissions shall at all
times have free access to the various zones and may even reside there
permanently. They shall be given all facilities for their duties of
Art. 9. Should the Special Commissions note any facts which they consider
contrary to the stipulations of the present agreement, they shall at once
draw the attention of the Power governing the said zone to these facts, and
shall fix a time limit of five days within which the matter should be
rectified. They shall duly notify the Power who has recognized the zone.
If, when the time limit has expired, the Power governing the zone has not
complied with the warning, the adverse Party may declare that it is no
longer bound by the present agreement in respect of the said zone.
Art. 10. Any Power setting up one or more hospital zones and localities,
and the adverse Parties to whom their existence has been notified, shall
nominate or have nominated by neutral Powers, the persons who shall be
members of the Special Commissions mentioned in Articles 8 and 9,
Art. 11. In no circumstances may hospital zones be the object of attack.
They shall be protected and respected at all times by the Parties to the
Art. 12. In the case of occupation of a territory, the hospital zones
therein shall continue to be respected and utilized as such.
Their purpose may, however, be modified by the Occupying Power, on
condition that all measures are taken to ensure the safety of the persons
Art. 13. The present agreement shall also apply to localities which the
Powers may utilize for the same purposes as hospital zones.
Identity Card for Members of Medical and Religious Personnel attached to
the Armed Forces