Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded,
sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea, of 12 August
1949 (Geneva Convention II)
12 August 1949
Entry into Force: 21 October 1950
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER I General Provisions
Article 1 Respect for the Convention
Article 2 Application of the Convention
Article 3 Conflicts not of an international character
Article 4 Field of application
Article 5 Application by neutral Powers
Article 6 Special agreements
Article 7 Non-renunciation of rights
Article 8 Protecting Powers
Article 9 Activities of the International Committee of the Red
Article 10 Substitutes for Protecting Powers
Article 11 Conciliation procedure
Article 12 Protection and care
Article 13 Protected persons
Article 14 Handing over to a belligerent
Article 15 Wounded taken on board a neutral warship
Article 16 Wounded falling into enemy hands
Article 17 Wounded landed in a neutral port
Article 18 Search for casualties after an engagement
Article 19 Recording and forwarding of information
Article 20 Prescriptions regarding the dead
Article 21 Appeals to neutral vessels
Article 22 Notification and protection of military hospital ships
Article 23 Protection of medical establishments ashore
Article 24 Hospital ships utilized by relief societies and private
individuals of: I. Parties to the conflict
Article 25 II. Neutral countries
Article 26 Tonnage
Article 27 Coastal rescue craft
Article 28 Protection of sick-bays
Article 29 Hospital ships in occupied ports
Article 30 Employment of hospital ships and small craft
Article 31 Right of control and search
Article 32 Stay in a neutral port
Article 33 Converted merchant vessels
Article 34 Discontinuance of protection
Article 35 Conditions not depriving hospital ships of protection
Article 36 Protection of the personnel of hospital ships
Article 37 Medical and religious personnel of other ships
Article 38 Ships used for the conveyance of medical equipment
Article 39 Medical aircraft
Article 40 Flight over neutral countries. Landing of wounded
Article 41 Use of the emblem
Article 42 Identification of medical and religious personnel
Article 43 Marking of hospital ships and small craft
Article 44 Limitation in the use of markings
Article 45 Prevention of misuse
Article 46 Detailed execution. Unforeseen cases
Article 47 Prohibition of reprisals
Article 48 Dissemination of the Convention
Article 49 Translations. Rules of application
Article 50 Penal sanctions: I. General observations
Article 51 II. Grave breaches
Article 52 Ill. Responsibilities of the Contracting Parties
Article 53 Enquiry procedure
Article 54 Languages
Article 55 Signature
Article 56 Ratification
Article 57 Coming into force
Article 58 Relation to the 1907 Convention
Article 59 Accession
Article 60 Notification of accessions
Article 61 Immediate effect
Article 62 Denunciation
Article 63 Registration with the United Nations
Identity Card for Members of Medical and Religious Personnel
attached to the Armed Forces at Sea
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 of them.
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 thereof.
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
(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
(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 judgement pronounced by a regularly constituted
court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized
as indispensable by civilized peoples.
(2) The wounded, sick and shipwrecked shall be collected and
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.
Art 4. In case of hostilities between land and naval forces of
Parties to the conflict, the provisions of the present Convention
shall apply only to forces on board ship.
Forces put ashore shall immediately become subject to the provisions
of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition
of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August
Art 5. Neutral Powers shall apply by analogy the provisions of
the present Convention to the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, 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 persons found.
Art 6. In addition to the agreements expressly provided for in
Articles 10, 18, 31, 38, 39, 40, 43 and 53, 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 wounded,
sick and shipwrecked persons, 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, sick and shipwrecked persons, 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.
Art 7. Wounded, sick and shipwrecked persons, 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 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
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, sick
and shipwrecked persons, medical personnel and chaplains, and
for their relief.
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 Convention.
When wounded, sick and shipwrecked, 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
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,
sick and shipwrecked, 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
Chapter II. Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked
Art 12. Members of the armed forces and other persons mentioned
in the following Article, who are at sea and who are wounded,
sick or shipwrecked, shall be respected and protected in all circumstances,
it being understood that the term "shipwreck" means
shipwreck from any cause and includes forced landings at sea by
or from aircraft.
Such persons shall be treated humanely and cared for by the Parties
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.
Art 13. The present Convention shall apply to the wounded, sick
at sea 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 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, 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
(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 Power.
(4) Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being
members thereof, such as civilian 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 of 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. All warships of a belligerent Party shall have the right
to demand that the wounded, sick or shipwrecked on board military
hospital ships, and hospital ships belonging to relief societies
or to private individuals, as well as merchant vessels, yachts
and other craft shall be surrendered, whatever their nationality,
provided that the wounded and sick are in a fit state to be moved
and that the warship can provide adequate facilities for necessary
Art 15. If wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons are taken on
board a neutral warship or a neutral military aircraft, it shall
be ensured, where so required by international law, that they
can take no further part in operations of war.
Art 16. Subject to the provisions of Article 12, the wounded,
sick and shipwrecked 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. The captor
may decide, according to circumstances, whether it is expedient
to hold them, or to convey them to a port in the captor's own
country, to a neutral port or even to a port in enemy territory.
In the last case, prisoners of war thus returned to their home
country may not serve for the duration of the war.
Art 17. Wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons who are landed in
neutral ports with the consent of the local authorities, shall,
failing arrangements to the contrary between the neutral and the
belligerent Powers, be so guarded by the neutral Power, where
so required by international law, that the said persons cannot
again take part in operations of war.
The costs of hospital accommodation and internment shall be borne
by the Power on whom the wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons
Art 18. After each engagement, Parties to the conflict shall,
without delay, take all possible measures to search for and collect
the shipwrecked, 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, the Parties to the conflict shall
conclude local arrangements for the removal of the wounded and
sick by sea from a besieged or encircled area and for the passage
of medical and religious personnel and equipment on their way
to that area.
Art 19. The Parties to the conflict shall record as soon as possible,
in respect of each shipwrecked, 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;
(d) first name or names;
(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 August
12, 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 the double identity disc, or the identity
disc itself if it is a single 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.
Art 20. Parties to the conflict shall ensure that burial at sea
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.
Where a double identity disc is used, one half of the disc should
remain on the body.
If dead persons are landed, the provisions of the Geneva Convention
for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick
in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949 shall be applicable.
Art 21. The Parties to the conflict may appeal to the charity
of commanders of neutral merchant vessels, yachts or other craft,
to take on board and care for wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons,
and to collect the dead.
Vessels of any kind responding to this appeal, and those having
of their own accord collected wounded, sick or shipwrecked persons,
shall enjoy special protection and facilities to carry out such
They may, in no case, be captured on account of any such transport;
but, in the absence of any promise to the contrary, they shall
remain liable to capture for any violations of neutrality they
may have committed.
Chapter III. Hospital Ships
Art 22. Military hospital ships, that is to say, ships built
or equipped by the Powers specially and solely with a view to
assisting the wounded, sick and shipwrecked, to treating them
and to transporting them, may in no circumstances be attacked
or captured, but shall at all times be respected and protected,
on condition that their names and descriptions have been notified
to the Parties to the conflict ten days before those ships are
The characteristics which must appear in the notification shall
include registered gross tonnage, the length from stem to stern
and the number of masts and funnels.
Art 23. Establishments ashore entitled to the protection of the
Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the
Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August 12, 1949
shall be protected from bombardment or attack from the sea.
Art 24. Hospital ships utilized by National Red Cross Societies,
by officially recognized relief societies or by private persons
shall have the same protection as military hospital ships and
shall be exempt from capture, if the Party to the conflict on
which they depend has given them an official commission and in
so far as the provisions of Article 22 concerning notification
have been complied with.
These ships must be provided with certificates from the responsible
authorities, stating that the vessels have been under their control
while fitting out and on departure.
Art 25. Hospital ships utilized by National Red Cross Societies,
officially recognized relief societies, or private persons of
neutral countries shall have the same protection as military hospital
ships and shall be exempt from capture, on condition that they
have placed themselves under the control of one of the Parties
to the conflict, with the previous consent of their own governments
and with the authorization of the Party to the conflict concerned,
in so far as the provisions of Article 22 concerning notification
have been complied with.
Art 26. The protection mentioned in Articles 22, 24 and 25 shall
apply to hospital ships of any tonnage and to their lifeboats,
wherever they are operating. Nevertheless, to ensure the maximum
comfort and security, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour
to utilize, for the transport of wounded, sick and shipwrecked
over long distances and on the high seas, only hospital ships
of over 2,000 tons gross.
Art 27. Under the same conditions as those provided for in Articles
22 and 24, small craft employed by the State or by the officially
recognized lifeboat institutions for coastal rescue operations,
shall also be respected and protected, so far as operational requirements
The same shall apply so far as possible to fixed coastal installations
used exclusively by these craft for their humanitarian missions.
Art 28. Should fighting occur on board a warship, the sick-bays
shall be respected and spared as far as possible. Sick-bays and
their equipment shall remain subject to the laws of warfare, but
may not be diverted from their purpose so long as they are required
for the wounded and sick. Nevertheless, the commander into whose
power they have fallen may, after ensuring the proper care of
the wounded and sick who are accommodated therein, apply them
to other purposes in case of urgent military necessity.
Art 29. Any hospital ship in a port which falls into the hands
of the enemy shall be authorized to leave the said port.
Art 30. The vessels described in Articles 22, 24, 25 and 27 shall
afford relief and assistance to the wounded, sick and shipwrecked
without distinction of nationality.
The High Contracting Parties undertake not to use these vessels
for any military purpose.
Such vessels shall in no wise hamper the movements of the combatants.
During and after an engagement, they will act at their own risk.
Art 31. The Parties to the conflict shall have the right to control
and search the vessels mentioned in Articles 22, 24, 25 and 27.
They can refuse assistance from these vessels, order them off,
make them take a certain course, control the use of their wireless
and other means of communication, and even detain them for a period
not exceeding seven days from the time of interception, if the
gravity of the circumstances so requires.
They may put a commissioner temporarily on board whose sole task
shall be to see that orders given in virtue of the provisions
of the preceding paragraph are carried out.
As far as possible, the Parties to the conflict shall enter in
the log of the hospital ship in a language he can understand,
the orders they have given the captain of the vessel.
Parties to the conflict may, either unilaterally or by particular
agreements, put on board their ships neutral observers who shall
verify the strict observation of the provisions contained in the
Art 32. Vessels described in Articles 22, 24, 25 and 27 are not
classed as warships as regards their stay in a neutral port.
Art 33. Merchant vessels which have been transformed into hospital
ships cannot be put to any other use throughout the duration of
Art 34. The protection to which hospital ships and sick-bays
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 due warning has been given, naming
in all appropriate cases a reasonable time limit, and after such
warning has remained unheeded.
In particular, hospital ships may not possess or use a secret
code for their wireless or other means of communication.
Art 35. The following conditions shall not be considered as depriving
ships or sick-bays of vessels of the protection due to them:
(1) The fact that the crews of ships or sick-bays are armed for
the maintenance of order, for their own defence or that of the
sick and wounded.
(2) The presence on board of apparatus exclusively intended to
facilitate navigation or communication.
(3) The discovery on board hospital ships or in sick-bays of portable
arms and ammunition taken from the wounded, sick and shipwrecked
and not yet handed to the proper service.
(4) The fact that the humanitarian activities of hospital ships
and sick-bays of vessels or of the crews extend to the care of
wounded, sick or shipwrecked civilians.
(5) The transport of equipment and of personnel intended exclusively
for medical duties, over and above the normal requirements.
Chapter IV. Personnel
Art 36. The religious, medical and hospital personnel of hospital
ships and their crews shall be respected and protected; they may
not be captured during the time they are in the service of the
hospital ship, whether or not there are wounded and sick on board.
Art 37. The religious, medical and hospital personnel assigned
to the medical or spiritual care of the persons designated in
Articles 12 and 13 shall, if they fall into the hands of the enemy,
be respected and protected; they may continue to carry out their
duties as long as this is necessary for the care of the wounded
and sick. They shall afterwards be sent back as soon as the Commander-in-Chief,
under whose authority they are, considers it practicable. They
may take with them, on leaving the ship, their personal property.
If, however, it prove necessary to retain some of this personnel
owing to the medical or spiritual needs of prisoners of war, everything
possible shall be done for their earliest possible landing.
Retained personnel shall be subject, on landing, to the provisions
of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition
of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of August
Chapter V. Medical Transports
Art 38. Ships chartered for that purpose shall be authorized
to transport equipment exclusively intended for the treatment
of wounded and sick members of armed forces or for the prevention
of disease, provided that the particulars regarding their voyage
have been notified to the adverse Power and approved by the latter.
The adverse Power shall preserve the right to board the carrier
ships, but not to capture them or seize the equipment carried.
By agreement amongst the Parties to the conflict, neutral observers
may be placed on board such ships to verify the equipment carried.
For this purpose, free access to the equipment shall be given.
Art 39. Medical aircraft, that is to say, aircraft exclusively
employed for the removal of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked,
and for the transport of medical personnel and equipment, may
not be the object of attack, but shall be respected by the Parties
to the conflict, while flying at heights, at times and on routes
specifically agreed upon between the Parties to the conflict concerned.
They shall be clearly marked with the distinctive emblem prescribed
in Article 41, together with their national colours, on their
lower, upper and lateral surfaces. They shall be provided with
any other markings or means of identification which may be agreed
upon between the Parties to the conflict 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 alight on land or
water. In the event of having thus to alight, the aircraft with
its occupants may continue its flight after examination, if any.
In the event of alighting involuntarily on land or water in enemy
or enemy-occupied territory, the wounded, sick and shipwrecked,
as well as the crew of the aircraft shall be prisoners of war.
The medical personnel shall be treated according to Articles 36
Art 40. Subject to the provisions of the second paragraph, medical
aircraft of Parties to the conflict may fly over the territory
of neutral Powers, land thereon in case of necessity, or use it
as a port of call. They shall give neutral Powers prior notice
of their passage over the said territory, and obey every 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 Power
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 otherwise agreed between the neutral Powers and the Parties
to the conflict, the wounded, sick or shipwrecked 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 VI. The Distinctive Emblem
Art 41. Under the direction of the competent military authority,
the emblem of the red cross on a white ground shall be displayed
on the flags, armlets and on all equipment employed in the Medical
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, these emblems are also recognized by the
terms of the present Convention.
Art 42. The personnel designated in Articles 36 and 37 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 19, 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, 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
fingerprints or both. It shall be embossed with the stamp of the
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.
Art 43. The ships designated in Articles 22, 24, 25 and 27 shall
marked as follows:
(a) All exterior surfaces shall be white.
(b) One or more dark red crosses, as large as possible, shall
be painted and displayed on each side of the hull and on the horizontal
surfaces, so placed as to afford the greatest possible visibility
from the sea and from the air.
All hospital ships shall make themselves known by hoisting their
national flag and further, if they belong to a neutral state, the
flag of the Party to the conflict whose direction they have accepted.
A white flag with a red cross shall be flown at the mainmast as
high as possible.
Lifeboats of hospital ships, coastal lifeboats and au small craft
used by the Medical Service shall be painted white with dark red
crosses prominently displayed and shall, in general, comply with
the identification system prescribed above for hospital ships.
The above-mentioned ships and craft, which may wish to ensure
by night and in times of reduced visibility the protection to
which they are entitled, must, subject to the assent of the Party
to the conflict under whose power they are, take the necessary
measures to render their painting and distinctive emblems sufficiently
Hospital ships which, in accordance with Article 31, are provisionally
detained by the enemy, must haul down the flag of the Party to
the conflict in whose service they are or whose direction they
Coastal lifeboats, if they continue to operate with the consent
of the Occupying Power from a base which is occupied, may be allowed,
when away from their base, to continue to fly their own national
colours along with a flag carrying a red cross on a white ground,
subject to prior notification to all the Parties to the conflict
All the provisions in this Article relating to the red cross
shall apply equally to the other emblems mentioned in Article
Parties to the conflict shall at all times endeavour to conclude
mutual agreements in order to use the most modern methods available
to facilitate the identification of hospital ships.
Art 44. The distinguishing signs referred to in Article 43 can
only be used, whether in time of peace or war, for indicating
or protecting the ships therein mentioned, except as may be provided
in any other international Convention or by agreement between
all the Parties to the conflict concerned.
Art 45. The High Contracting Parties shall, if their legislation
is not already adequate, take the measures necessary for the prevention
and repression, at all times, of any abuse of the distinctive
signs provided for under Article 43.
Chapter VII. Execution of the Convention
Art 46. 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 47. Reprisals against the wounded, sick and shipwrecked persons,
the personnel, the vessels or the equipment protected by the Convention
Art 48. 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 49. 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 application thereof.
Chapter VIII. Repression of Abuses and Infractions
Art 50. 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, and 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
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 August 12, 1949.
Art 51. 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
Art 52. 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 preceding Article.
Art 53. 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
Art 54. 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 55. The present Convention, which bears the date of this
day, is open to signature until February 12, 1950, in the name
of the Powers represented at the Conference which opened at Geneva
on April 21, 1949; furthermore, by Powers not represented at that
Conference, but which are parties to the Xth Hague Convention
of October 13, 1907 for the adaptation to Maritime Warfare of
the Principles of the Geneva Convention of 1906, or to the Geneva
Conventions of 1864, 1906 or 1929 for the Relief of the Wounded
and Sick in Armies in the Field.
Art 56. 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.
Art 57. The present Convention shall come into force six months
after not less than two instruments of ratification have been
Thereafter, it shall come into force for each High Contracting
Party six months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification.
Art 58. The present Convention replaces the Xth Hague Convention
of October 18, 1907, for the adaptation to Maritime Warfare of
the principles of the Geneva Convention of 1906, in relations
between the High Contracting Parties.
Art 59. 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 Convention.
Art 60. 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.
Art 61. 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.
Art 62. 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 the 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 conscience.
Art 63. 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
Identity Card for Members of Medical and Religious Personnel
attached to the Armed Forces at Sea