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Series of four international agreements (1864, 1906, 1929, 1949) signed in Geneva, Switz., that established the humanitarian principles by which the signatory countries are to treat an enemy's military and civilian nationals in wartime. The first convention was initiated by Jean-Henri Dunant; it established that medical facilities were not to be war targets, that hospitals should treat all wounded impartially, that civilians aiding the wounded should be protected, and that the Red Cross symbol should serve to identify those covered by the agreement. The second convention amended and extended the first. The third stated that prisoners of war should be treated humanely and that prison camps should be open to inspection by neutral countries. The 1949 conventions made further provisions for civilians falling into a belligerent's hands. Guerrilla combatants were extended protection in two 1977 amendments, which the U.S. did not sign. Violations of the Geneva Conventions were among the crimes included in the jurisdictions of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia (1993) and Rwanda (1994) and the International Criminal Court (2002). See alsoHague Conventions; war crime.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on Geneva Conventions, visit Britannica.com.
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