Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the
Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field
Signed at Geneva, 12 August 1949.
ENTRY INTO FORCE: 21 October 1950.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The undersigned Plenipotentiaries of the Governments represented
at the Diplomatic Conference held at Geneva from 21 April to 12
August 1949, for the purpose of revising the Geneva Convention
for the Relief of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field
of 27 July 1929, have agreed as follows:
- Article 1. The High Contracting
Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for the present
Convention in all circumstances.
- Article 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 of
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
- Article 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
- (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
- (a) violence 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 judgment pronounced by
a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial
guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by
- (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 present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not
affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
- Article 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
- Article 5. For the protected persons
who have fallen into the hands of the enemy, the present Convention
shall apply until their final repatriation.
- Article 6. In addition to the agreements
expressly provided for in Articles 10,
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 with regard to them by one or other of the
Parties to the conflict.
- Article 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
- Article 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
The Parties to the conflict shall facilitate to the greatest
extent possible, the task of the representatives or delegates
of the Protecting Powers.
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.
- Article 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 their relief.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
Wounded and Sick
- Article 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
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 willfully be left without medical assistance and care,
nor shall conditions exposing them to contagion or infection
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.
- Article 13. The present Convention
shall apply to the wounded and sick belonging to the following
- (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 forces.
- (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, fulfill the following
- (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 arms openly;
- (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
- (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
- (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.
- Article 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 them.
- Article 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.
- Article 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 include:
- (a) designation of the Power on which he depends;
- (b) army, regimental, personal or serial number;
- (c) surname;
- (d) first name or names;
- (e) date of birth;
- (f) any other particulars shown on his identity card or
- (g) date and place of capture or death;
- (h) particulars concerning wounds or illness, or cause
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 Agency.
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 parcel.
- Article 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 therein.
- Article 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 sick.
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 sick.
Medical Units and Establishments
- Article 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 units.
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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
- Article 22. The following conditions
shall not be considered as depriving a medical unit or establishment
of the protection guaranteed by Article
- (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 an escort.
- (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 or establishment.
- (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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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
- Article 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
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.
- Article 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:
During hostilities the Parties to the conflict shall make arrangements
for relieving where possible retained personnel, and shall settle
the procedure of such relief.
- (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.
- (c) Although 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
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.
- Article 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
- Article 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 requirements permit.
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 fulfill 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
On their departure, they shall take with them the effects,
personal belongings, valuables and instruments belonging to
- Article 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.
- Article 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
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.
Buildings and Material
- Article 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 and
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 intentionally destroyed.
- Article 34. The real and personal
property of aid societies which are admitted to the privileges
of the Convention shall be regarded as private property.
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.
- Article 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
The civilian personnel and all means of transport obtained
by requisition shall be subject to the general rules of international
- Article 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 are prohibited.
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.
- Article 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 Par ties to the conflict and the neutral Power concerned.
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 conflict.
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.
The Distinctive Emblem
- Article 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
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 Convention.
- Article 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
- Article 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 authority.
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 insignia replaced.
- Article 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 authority.
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 armlet.
- Article 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 establishment belongs. 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
- Article 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.
- Article 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
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.
Execution of the Convention
- Article 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
- Article 46. Reprisals against the
wounded, sick, personnel, buildings or equipment protected by
the Convention are prohibited.
- Article 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.
- Article 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
Repression of Abuses and Infractions
- Article 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
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.
- Article 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: willful killing, torture or inhuman
treatment, including biological experiments, willfully 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.
- Article 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
- Article 52. At the request of a
Party to the conflict, an esquire 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 inquiry, 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.
- Article 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 Convention.
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
- Article 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
(Here follow signatures)
- Article 55. The present Convention
is established in English and in French. Both texts are equally
The Swiss Federal Council shall arrange for official translations
of the Convention to be made in the Russian and Spanish languages.
- Article 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.
- Article 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 notified.
- Article 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.
- Article 59. The present Convention
replaces the Conventions of 22 August 1864, 6 July 1906, and
27 July 1929, in relations between the High Contracting Parties.
- Article 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 this
- Article 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 received.
The Swiss Federal Council shall communicate the accessions
to all the Powers in whose name the Convention has been signed,
or whose accession has been notified.
- Article 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 conflict.
- Article 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 Contracting Parties.
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
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 fulfill
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 conscience.
- Article 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 Convention.
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.
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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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 entry therein.
- Article 4. Hospital zones shall fulfill 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.
- Article 5. Hospital zones shall be subject to the following
- (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 military means.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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
fulfill the conditions and obligations stipulated in the present
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 inspection.
- Article 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.
- Article 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.
- Article 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 conflict.
- Article 12. In the case of occupation of a territory, the
hospital zones therein shall continue to be respected and utilized
Their purpose may, however, be modified by the Occupying
Power, on condition that all measures are taken to ensure
the safety of the persons accommodated.
- Article 13. The present agreement shall also apply to localities
which the Powers may utilize for the same purposes as hospital