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Founding of the ICRC and establishment of International Humanitarian Law

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  1. Introduction.
  2. Founding of the Red Cross and basis for The Original Geneva Conventions of 1864.
    1. Importance of establishing a distinctive emblem.
    2. The Convention's ten articles.
    3. Revisions and additions the years of 1906, 1929, and 1949.
  3. ICRC during World War I.
  4. ICRC during World War II and Adoption of the 1949 Geneva Convention.
  5. The first and second Geneva Conventions.
    1. Protection of human rights.
    2. Commitments under the conventions.
    3. Reservations.
    4. Monitoring and enforcement.
  6. The third and the fourth Geneva Conventions.
    1. Types of prisoners under the third and fourth Geneva Conventions.
    2. Third Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war.
    3. Status determination of prisoners.
    4. No detainee without a legal status.
  7. Additional protocols 1 and 2.
    1. Additional protocol 1.
    2. Additional protocol 2.
  8. Conclusion.

On a summer day of June 1959, during the wars of Italian unification, a major battle broke out in northern Italy. Later to become known as the battle of Solferino, it was estimated that some six thousand were killed in a single day. Henry Dunant, a citizen of Geneva, Switzerland, was traveling through the region to meet with Napoleon III regarding business matters. Upon arrival in the small village of Castiglione, Dunant was horrified by the site of the thousands who had been wounded in the battle and taken refuge. The Franco-Sardinian forces had completely inadequate medical services to attend the injured. Dunant remained in the village for the next three days, helping the wounded soldiers by delivering food and water and dressing their wounds. After assisting the soldiers for several days, he traveled back to Geneva to focus on his business duties. Nevertheless, he was unable to forget the memories of his experience in Castiglione. He decided to publish a book entitled, A Memory of Solferino, where he described the battle and neglected state he found the soldiers. He ended his text with two proposal-type questions: ?Would it not be possible in the time of peace and quiet, to form relief societies for the purposes of having care given to the wounded in wartime by zealous, devoted and thoroughly qualified volunteers?? He then went to suggest ?some international principle, sanctioned by a convention and inviolate in character, which one agreed upon and ratified, might constitute the basis for societies for the relief of the wounded in the different European countries.?

[...] Additional Protocols 1 and 2 As the guardian of international humanitarian law, the International Committee of the Red Cross is responsible for its development in order to adjust to changes in warfare. In 1965, the ICRC made the decision to reevaluate the Geneva Conventions of 1949 in terms of their necessity to protect victims of modern military conflicts[14]. Thus, the ICRC began researching the possibilities to fill the gaps in the existing law, by providing the Conventions with Additional Protocol 1 and Additional Protocol 2. [...]


[...] Both Conventions protect medical assistance, particularly organizations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, by insulating the hospitals, personnel and vehicles from the conflict. The relevant provisions of each Convention address each aspect of medical assistance. Anything used in the aid of the wounded and sick is to be immune from the conflict and failure to adhere is a violation of the convention. Commitments under the Conventions: All Party States are required to uphold the purpose of the treaty. [...]


[...] The Third and Fourth Geneva Conventions The protection and treatment of captured combatants during an international armed conflict is detailed in the Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, which defines prisoners of war (POWs) and enumerates the protections of POW status. Persons not entitled to POW status, including so-called "unlawful combatants," are entitled to the protections provided under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.1 All detainees fall somewhere within the protections of these two Conventions; according to the authoritative Commentary to the Geneva Conventions of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC): "nobody in enemy hands can fall outside the law." The Third Geneva Convention was adopted in 1929 as an extension of the rights that were intended to be guaranteed by the Hague Convention of 1907. [...]

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