1864 Geneva Convention for the amelioration of the condition of the wounded in armies in the field.

1899The Hague Conventions respecting the laws and customs of war on land and the adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the 1864 Geneva Convention and the Hague Declarations on Asphyxiating Gases and expanding bullets.

1925 Geneva Protocol for the prohibition of the use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases and of bacteriological methods of warfare.

1929 Geneva Convention: Geneva Convention relating to the treatment of prisoners of war (new)

1949Geneva Convention: each state party shall be under the obligation to search for persons alleged to have committed, or to have ordered to be committed, such grave breaches [of IHL protocol], and shall bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before its own courts.-Treatment of prisoners of war- Protection of civilian persons in time of war (new)

1954The Hague Convention for the protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict.

1977Two Protocols additional to the four 1949 Geneva Conventions, which strengthen the protection of victims of international (Protocol I) and non-international (Protocol II) armed conflicts .The Additional Protocols of 1977, protecting military and civilian peoples during a war, were combined to prevent the unlawful infliction of suffering on the enemy population.

3Give definitions to the following words:

  • Convention
  • Amelioration
  • Maritime
  • Prisoner of war
  • Breach

Many of these treaties were made in response to new methods of warfare that that used in the preceding wars. In the World Wars, for example, methods of warfare were used that caused more military and civilian casualties than those used in previous conflicts.

  • The First World War (1914-1918) witnessed the first large-scale use of poison gas, the first-ever aerial bombardments, and the capture of hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war. The Geneva Conventions of 1925 and 1929 were a response to those developments.
  • The Second World War (1939-1945) saw civilians and military personnel killed in equal numbers, as against a ratio of 1:9 in the First World War. In 1949 the international community responded to those tragic figures, and more particularly to the terrible effects the war had on civilians, by revising the Conventions then in force and adopting a new instrument: the Fourth Geneva Convention for the protection of civilians.
  • According to Norways International Peace Research Institute, civilians are targeted more than ever. At the beginning of the century nine soldiers were casualties of war for every single civilian who suffered the same fate. Today the ratio has reversed, approaching 1 soldier for every 8 civilians. [www.time.com/time/magazine]


What has been the trend in civilian casualties in war since the World War I? Why is this so?

What did the international community do in response to this?

It is important to mention that the IHL is not only designed to protect victims of international armed conflict it also protects victims of fighting carried out within a country between recognizable armed groups. In addition, it protects the victims of internal disturbances, which, while not carried out between armed groups, are due to internal disruption and disorder resulting from acts of violence (such as riots, struggles between factions or against the authorities).

Summary of IHL:

The law governing conduct during war has three fundamental concerns. First, the IHL aims to protect people who are not, or who are no longer fighting in the armed conflict. These people may be civilians who live and work in a country at war, wounded soldiers who are no longer able to fight, or members of the military who have surrendered. This is known as the law of Geneva. The essential rules of IHL seek to protect those people who are not directly involved in the war, and to treat them with humanity, without any unfavorable distinction. Not all civilian deaths in wartime are unlawful. In military terms, collateral damage, including civilian casualties, is to be expected in war. But there are clear rules that set limits on the conduct of hostilities. For example, the IHL makes it illegal to harm or capture medical teams bearing the flag of the Red Cross (or Red Crescent) on a white background, because they collect and care for the wounded. IHL also makes it illegal for prisoners of war to be treated without dignity or respect for their lives. Prisoners are legally entitled to their personal rights and their political and religious convictions, to exchange news with their families, and to receive medical help.


What is collateral damage? Is it illegal?

Second, the IHL restricts the methods of warfare that the military are legally allowed to use. This is known as the law of The Hague. Neither side of the armed conflict may use weapons that are likely to cause unnecessary losses or excessive suffering. For example, it is illegal for armies to use land mines, asphyxiating, poisonous gases or bacteriological (often called biological) warfare, because these methods of combat will cause continuing harm to civilians, and to military personnel, after the war has ended. One of the cornerstones of the IHL is the principle that all possible measures must be taken to distinguish between civilian persons and objects, and military objectives. Part of the Geneva Convention sets out the basic rule regarding the protection of civilians (often referred to as the principle of distinction).

In order to ensure respect for and protection of the civilian population and civilian objects, the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between the civilian population and combatants and between civilian objects and military objects and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.


Why is it illegal to use land mines and poisonous gases in war?

Can you think of examples when these were used? Do you know if the perpetrators were


Third, the IHL is specially intended to resolve matters of humanitarian concern arising directly from war. It provides the laws under which war criminals, people who break humanitarian law during armed conflict, can be brought to justice. If any of the conventions (laws) of the IHL are violated (broken) by specific individuals, the individuals can be taken to court and tried. A good example of this is the Nuremberg tribunal, which occurred after WW2. The tribunal aimed to bring Adolf Hitler and the principal members of his administration to justice, and to punish them for the murder of millions of Jewish civilians in the concentration camps of World War II. Presently, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia is trying suspected criminals of war from the conflicts in the Balkan Peninsula.

The most publicized case involves that of the former President of the Republic of Serbia, Slobodan Milosevic, who is accused of Crimes Against Humanity and Violations of the Customs or Laws of War by the planning, instigating and ordering of a campaign of terror and violence directedagainst the Kosovo Albanian citizens.

Respect for IHL

Humanitarian law is not always respected and violations are not always prosecuted. Opinions vary as to why IHL is often breached without prosecution. Some opinions include:

  • ignorance of the law
  • the very nature of war so wills it
  • humanitarian law is not matched by an effective centralized system for implementing sanctions


Can you think of other reasons besides those given as to why violations of IHL occur while legally nothing is done to stop them or bring those who are accused to court?

Yet simply giving up in the face of breaches and halting all action that seeks to gain greater respect for humanitarian law would be far more discreditable. This is why, pending a more effective system of sanctions, acts that breach IHL should be relentlessly condemned and steps taken to prevent and punish them.

Lastly, the international communitys efforts to create a permanent international criminal court should also be noted. As the project stands at present, the court would be competent to try war crimes and crimes against humanity, including genocide.


Why should we try to prosecute those who are accused of committing violations of IHL?

Why would an international criminal court be useful in bringing a halt to violations of war crimes and crimes against humanity? Wouldnt the court system of each individual country be good enough?

War is In no way a relationship of man with man but a relationship between States, in which

individuals are enemies only by accident; not as men, nor even as citizens, but as soldiers . . . since the object of war is to destroy the enemy State, it is legitimate to kill the latters defenders as long as they are carry aims; but as soon as they lay them down and surr

ender, they cease to be enemies or agents of the enemy, and they again become mere men and it is not longer legitimate to take their lives.

Jean Jacques Rousseau


This quotation was written in the 1700s. Do you think this is still applicable today? Who are the defenders he mentions? Do you consider yourself a defender?


Write an essay on the theme: The impact of Television on children in Kazakhstan


1 Translate the current news:

Regular coffee drinkers have 'cleaner' arteries

By Michelle Roberts Health editor, BBC News online

Drinking a few cups of coffee a day may help people avoid clogged arteries - a known risk factor for heart disease - Korean researchers believe. They studied more than 25,000 male and female employees who underwent routine health checks at their workplace. Employees who drank a moderate amount of coffee - three to five cups a day - were less likely to have early signs of heart disease on their medical scans. The findings reopen the debate about whether coffee is good for the heart.

There is a lot of confusion when it comes to the effect of coffee on heart health. In heart disease, the arteries supplying the heart muscle can become blocked. Some studies have linked consumption to heart risk factors, such as raised cholesterol or blood pressure, while others suggest the beverage may offer some heart protection. But there is no conclusive evidence either way, and the latest research from South Korea, which is published in the journal Heart, only adds to the discussion.

In the study, the researchers used medical scans to assess heart health. Specifically, they were looking for any disease of the arteries supplying the heart - the coronary arteries. In coronary heart disease, the coronary arteries become clogged by the gradual build-up of fatty material within their walls. The scan the researchers used looks for tiny deposits of calcium in the walls of the coronary arteries to provide an early clue that this disease process may be occurring. None of the employees included in the Korean study had outward signs of heart disease, but more than one in 10 of them were found to have visible calcium deposits on their scans. The researchers then compared the scan results with the employees' self-reported daily coffee consumption, while taking into account other potential heart risk factors such as smoking, exercise and family history of heart problems. People who drank a few cups of coffee a day were less likely to have calcium deposits in their coronary arteries than people who drank more than this or no coffee at all. The study authors say more research is needed to confirm and explain the link. Coffee contains the stimulant caffeine, as well as numerous other compounds, but it's not clear if these might cause good or harm to the body. Victoria Taylor of the British Heart Foundation said: "While this study does highlight a potential link between coffee consumption and lower risk of developing clogged arteries, more research is needed to confirm these findings and understand what the reason is for the association. "We need to take care when generalising these results because it is based on the South Korean population, who have different diet and lifestyle habits to people in the UK."

In the US, experts say up to 400mg a day appears to be safe for most healthy adults. There is no recommended daily upper limit for caffeine consumption in the UK, except for pregnant women. If you're pregnant, you should limit the amount of caffeine you have to 200mg a day - equivalent to two mugs of instant coffee:

  • one mug of instant coffee: 100mg
  • one mug of filter coffee: 140mg
  • one mug of tea: 75mg
  • one can of cola: 40mg
  • an espresso contains about 50mg of caffeine


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