Geneva Conventions

In popular usage, Geneva Conventions refers to a body of agreements aimed at setting international standards of warfare. Begun in 1864 as a mutual accord regarding treatment of the wounded and medical personnel, the convention grew in complexity by the early 21st century, addressing new technologies, prisoners of war, broader issues of human rights, and noninternational conflicts. International bodies, most notably the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the United Nations, have been instrumental in shaping the convention. From the beginning, a tension has existed between enforcement of the convention’s provisions and respect for the sovereignty of individual states. This entry discusses the background of the Geneva Conventions and the content of the conventions and agreements from 1864 to the present, including applications ...

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