21 janvier 2017

OUVRAGE : Commentary on the First Geneva Convention: Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field

Catherine MAIA

The application and interpretation of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their two Additional Protocols of 1977 have developed significantly in the sixty years since the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) first published its Commentaries on these important humanitarian treaties. To promote a better understanding of, and respect for, this body of law, the ICRC commissioned a comprehensive update of its original Commentaries, of which this is the first volume. Its preparation was coordinated by Jean-Marie Henckaerts, ICRC legal adviser and head of the project to update the Commentaries. The First Convention is a foundational text of international humanitarian law. It contains the essential rules on the protection of the wounded and sick, those assigned to their care, and the red cross and red crescent emblems. This article-by-article Commentary takes into account developments in the law and practice to provide up-to-date interpretations of the Convention. The new Commentary has been reviewed by humanitarian-law practitioners and academics from around the world. It is an essential tool for anyone working or studying within this field.


The 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols constitute the foundation of international humanitarian law today. They contain the essential rules of humanitarian law protecting civilians, persons who are hors de combat and medical and religious personnel, as well as a range of protected objects such as civilian objects and medical units and transports. At the time of writing, the Geneva Conventions have been universally ratified or adhered to. Furthermore, a large majority of countries, more than five out of every six, are party to the 1977 Additional Protocols.

Upon the adoption of the Conventions in 1949, a group of ICRC lawyers who had been involved in the drafting and negotiation of the Conventions set out to write a detailed commentary on each of their provisions. This led to the publication between 1952 and 1960 of a Commentary on each of the four Conventions, under the general editorship of Jean Pictet.2 Similarly, when the Additional Protocols were adopted in 1977, ICRC lawyers involved in their negotiation set out to write a commentary on both Protocols. These were published in 1986–1987.

Over the years, these six ICRC Commentaries have come to be recognized as well-respected and authoritative interpretations of the Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols, essential for the understanding and application of the law.

The original Commentaries were based primarily on the negotiating history of these treaties, as observed at first hand by the authors, and on prior practice. In this respect, they retain their historic value. They often contain a detailed comparison with previous conventions, e.g. a comparison between the 1949 Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Conventions on the Wounded and Sick and on Prisoners of War.

However, with the passage of time and the development of practice, a genuine need was felt to update the Commentaries. The ICRC therefore decided to embark upon an ambitious project to achieve that purpose. This update seeks to reflect the practice that has developed in applying and interpreting the Conventions and Protocols during the decades since their adoption, while preserving those elements of the original Commentaries that are still relevant. The objective is to ensure that the new editions reflect contemporary practice and legal interpretation. Therefore, the new editions are more detailed as they have the benefit of more than 60 years of application of the Conventions – 40 years in the case of the 1977 Additional Protocols – and their interpretation by States, courts and scholars. The new Commentaries reflect the ICRC’s current interpretations of the law, where they exist. They also indicate the main diverging views where these have been identified.

The update preserves the format of the original Commentaries, that is to say an article-by-article analysis of each of the provisions of the Conventions and Protocols. The commentaries on the common articles in the First Convention have been drafted to cover the four Conventions. They will be adapted to the specific context of a Convention where this is particularly relevant, for example to provide a definition of ‘shipwrecked’ in the context of the Second Convention.

The present volume is the first instalment in a series of six updated Commentaries. Acommentary on Additional Protocol III that was published in 2007 is not being updated as part of this project.

(Extract of the Introduction)


Foreword, Peter Maurer page 
Introduction, Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Heike Niebergall-Lackner

Preamble, Iris Müller 

Chapter I. General provisions

Article 1: Respect for the Convention, Jean-Marie Henckaerts
Article 2: Application of the Convention, Tristan Ferraro and Lindsey Cameron
Article 3: Conflicts not of an international character, Lindsey Cameron, Bruno Demeyere, Jean-Marie,Henckaerts, Eve La Haye and Iris Müller, with contributions by Cordula Droege, Robin Geiss and Laurent Gisel
Article 4: Application by neutral Powers, Bruno Demeyere
Article 5: Duration of application, Lindsey Cameron
Article 6: Special agreements, Lindsey Cameron
Article 7: Non-renunciation of rights, Lindsey Cameron
Article 8: Protecting Powers, François Bugnion
Article 9: Activities of the ICRC and other impartial humanitarian organizations, Bruno Demeyere
Article 10: Substitutes for Protecting Powers, François Bugnion
Article 11: Conciliation procedure, Sylvain Vité
Chapter II. Wounded and sick
Article 12: Protection and care of the wounded and sick, Robin Geiss, with contributions by Helen Durham
Article 13: Protected persons, Lindsey Cameron
Article 14: Status of the wounded and sick who have fallen into enemy hands, Lindsey Cameron
Article 15: Search for casualties. Evacuation, Robin Geiss
Article 16: Recording and forwarding of information, Sandesh Sivakumaran
Article 17: Prescriptions regarding the dead. Graves Registration Service, Sandesh Sivakumaran
Article 18: Role of the population, Lindsey Cameron
Chapter III. Medical units and establishments
Article 19: Protection of medical units and establishments, Alexander Breitegger
Article 20: Protection of hospital ships, Bruno Demeyere
Article 21: Discontinuance of protection of medical units and establishments, Alexander Breitegger
Article 22: Conditions not depriving medical units and establishments of protection, Alexander Breitegger
Article 23: Hospital zones and localities, Iris Müller
Chapter IV. Personnel
Article 24: Protection of permanent personnel, Bruno Demeyere
Article 25: Protection of auxiliary personnel, Bruno Demeyere
Article 26: Personnel of aid societies, Bruno Demeyere
Article 27: Societies of neutral countries, Bruno Demeyere
Article 28: Retained personnel, Jann K. Kleffner
Article 29: Status of auxiliary personnel who have fallen into enemy hands, Bruno Demeyere
Article 30: Return of medical and religious personnel, Bruno Demeyere
Article 31: Selection of personnel for return, Bruno Demeyere
Article 32: Return of personnel belonging to neutral countries, Bruno Demeyere
Chapter V. Buildings and material
Article 33: Buildings and material of medical units and establishments, Eve La Haye
Article 34: Property of aid societies, Eve La Haye
Chapter VI. Medical transports
Article 35: Protection of medical transports, Geoffrey S. Corn
Article 36: Medical aircraft, Geoffrey S. Corn
Article 37: Flight over neutral countries. Landing of the wounded and sick, Geoffrey S. Corn
Chapter VII. The distinctive emblem
Article 38: Emblem of the Convention, Michael Meyer
Article 39: Use of the emblem, Michael Meyer
Article 40: Identification of medical and religious personnel, Lindsey Cameron
Article 41: Identification of auxiliary personnel, Lindsey Cameron
Article 42: Marking of medical units and establishments, Alexander Breitegger
Article 43: Marking of units of neutral countries, Lindsey Cameron
Article 44: Restrictions in the use of the emblem. Exceptions, Michael Meyer
Chapter VIII. Execution of the Convention
Article 45: Detailed execution. Unforeseen cases, Jean-Marie Henckaerts and Dana Constantin
Article 46: Prohibition of reprisals, Eve La Haye
Article 47: Dissemination of the Convention, Iris Müller
Article 48: Translations. Implementing laws and regulations, Iris Müller
Chapter IX. Repression of abuses and infractions
Article 49: Penal sanctions, Eve La Haye
Article 50: Grave breaches, Knut Dörmann and Eve La Haye
Article 51: Responsibilities of the Contracting Parties, Eve La Haye
Article 52: Enquiry procedure, Sylvain Vité
Article 53: Misuse of the emblem, Michael Meyer
Article 54: Prevention of misuse of the emblem, Michael Meyer
Final provisions
Article 55: Languages, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 56: Signature, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 57: Ratification, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 58: Coming into force, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 59: Relation to previous Conventions, Iris Müller
Article 60: Accession, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 61: Notification of accessions, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 62: Immediate effect, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Article 63: Denunciation, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker, with contributions by Iris Müller
Article 64: Registration with the United Nations, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker
Testimonium and signature clause, Stephan Michel and Claude Schenker

Commentary on the First Geneva Convention: Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2016 (1294 pp.)

Contributors: Jean-Marie Henckaerts, Heike Niebergall-Lackner, Iris Müller, Tristan Ferraro, Lindsey Cameron, Bruno Demeyere, Eve La Haye, Cordula Droege, Robin Geiss, Laurent Gisel, François Bugnion, Sylvain Vité, Helen Durham, Sandesh Sivakumaran, Alexander Breitegger, Jann K. Kleffner, Geoffrey S. Corn, Michael Meyer, Dana Constantin, Knut Dörmann, Stephan Michel, Claude Schenker

Aucun commentaire :

Enregistrer un commentaire