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The Geneva Conventions

Soldiers reading about international humanitarian law© InfoThe Geneva Conventions are four international treaties that form the basis of modern humanitarian law governing the treatment of soldiers and civilians during conflict.

Adopted in 1949 to take account of the experiences of the Second World War, the Geneva Conventions still apply to modern armed conflicts.

The Red Cross and the Geneva Conventions

Red Cross organisations have a unique position under the Geneva Conventions. As a completely neutral and independent body the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) can offer to act as an impartial and neutral instrument of humanitarian protection, during armed conflicts.

Countries must allow the ICRC to visit prisoners of war. They sometimes exchange family messages and help search for missing persons.

National Societies, such as the British Red Cross, support this work by delivering family messages, and helping to provide medical aid and relief supplies when needed. They also have a special role as voluntary aid societies, auxiliary to the medical services of their country's armed forces.

Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949

  1. Wounded and sick soldiers
  2. Wounded, sick and shipwrecked sailors
  3. Treatment of prisoners of war
  4. Protection of civilians during war

Additional protocols of 8 June 1977

  1. Protection of victims of international armed conflicts
  2. Protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts

Third additional protocol of 8 December 2005

Adoption of an additional distinctive emblem (the red crystal)

Read about the red cross emblem

Find out about our fundamental principles

Related

International humanitarian law summer school

A Medical Emergency Response Team of four rushes an Afghan casualty on a stretcher to a Red Cross ambulance

The next British Red Cross summer school on IHL will be held in Cambridge Sunday 18 – Wednesday 21 September 2016.

more about the course  >