Front Page Titles (by Subject) Convention for the amelioration of the condition of soldiers wounded in armies in the field. - The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War
Return to Title Page for The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Convention for the amelioration of the condition of soldiers wounded in armies in the field. - A. Pearce Higgins, The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War 
The Hague Peace Conferences and Other International Conferences concerning the Laws and Usages of War. Texts of Conventions with Commentaries, by A. Pearce Higgins, LL.D. (Cambridge University Press, 1909).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Convention for the amelioration of the condition of soldiers wounded in armies in the field.
The Swiss Confederation, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Baden, His Majesty the King of the Belgians, His Majesty the King of Denmark, Her Majesty the Queen of Spain, His Majesty the Emperor of the French, His Royal Highness the Grand Duke of Hesse, His Majesty the King of Italy, His Majesty the King of the Netherlands, His Majesty the King of Portugal and the Algarves, His Majesty the King of Prussia, His Majesty the King of Wurtemberg, being equally animated by the desire to mitigate, as far as depends upon them, the evils inseparable from war, to suppress useless severities, and to ameliorate the condition of soldiers wounded on the field of battle, have resolved to conclude a Convention for that purpose, and have named as their Plenipotentiaries, that is to say:
(Here follow the names of the Plenipotentiaries.)
Who, after having exchanged their powers, found in good and due form, have agreed upon the following articles:
1. Ambulances and military hospitals shall be recognised as neutral, and, as such, shall be protected and respected by the belligerents, so long as any sick or wounded may be therein.
Such neutrality shall cease if these ambulances or hospitals shall be held by a military force.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Arts. 6-8.)
2. Persons employed in hospitals and ambulances, including the staff for superintendence, medical service, administration, transport of wounded, as well as chaplains, shall participate in the benefit of neutrality whilst so employed, and so long as there remain any wounded to bring in or to succour.
(Cp. Add. Art. 1868, Art. 1. 3 H. C. 1899, Art. 7. G. C. 1906, Art. 9. 10 H. C. 1907, Art. 10.)
3. The persons designated in the preceding article may, even after occupation by the enemy, continue to fulfil their duties in the hospital or ambulance which they serve, or may withdraw in order to rejoin the corps to which they belong.
Under such circumstances, when those persons shall cease from their functions, they shall be delivered, by the occupying army, to the outposts of the enemy.
(Cp. Add. Art. 1868, Art. 1. 3 H. C. 1899, Art. 7. G. C. 1906, Art. 12. 10 H. C. 1907, Art. 10.)
4. As the equipment of military hospitals remains subject to the laws of war, persons attached to such hospitals cannot, in withdrawing, carry away any articles but such as are their private property.
Under the same circumstances an ambulance shall, on the contrary, retain its equipment.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Arts. 12 and 14.)
5. Inhabitants of the country who may bring help to the wounded shall be respected, and shall remain free. The generals of the belligerent powers shall make it their care to inform the inhabitants of the appeal addressed to their humanity, and of the neutrality which will be the consequence of it.
Any wounded man entertained and taken care of in a house shall be considered as a protection thereto. Any inhabitant who shall have received wounded men into his house shall be exempted from the quartering of troops, as well as from a part of the contributions of war which may be imposed.
(Cp. Add. Art. 1868, Art. 4. G. C. 1906, Art. 5.)
6. Wounded or sick soldiers shall be brought in and taken care of, to whatever nation they may belong.
Commanders-in-chief shall have the power to deliver immediately to the outposts of the enemy soldiers who have been wounded in an engagement, when circumstances permit this to be done, and with the consent of both parties.
Those who are recognised, after their wounds are healed, as incapable of serving, shall be sent back to their country.
The others may also be sent back, on condition of not bearing arms again during the continuance of the war.
(Cp. Add. Art. 1868, Art. 5. G. C. 1906, Art. 2.)
Evacuations [i.e. convoys of sick and wounded], together with the persons under whose directions they take place, shall be protected by an absolute neutrality.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 17.)
7. A distinctive and uniform flag shall be adopted for hospitals, ambulances, and evacuations. It must on every occasion be accompanied by the national flag.
An arm-badge (brassard) shall also be allowed for individuals neutralised, but the delivery thereof shall be left to military authority.
The flag and arm-badge shall bear a red cross on a white ground.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Arts. 18, 19, 20.)
8. The details of execution of the present Convention shall be regulated by the Commanders-in-chief of the belligerent armies, according to the instructions of their respective Governments, and in conformity with the general principles laid down in this Convention.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 25.)
9. The High Contracting Powers have agreed to communicate the present Convention to the Governments which have been unable to send Plenipotentiaries to the International Conference of Geneva, with an invitation to accede thereto; the Protocol is for that purpose left open.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 32 (2, 3).)
10. The present Convention shall be ratified, and the ratifications shall be exchanged at Berne, in four months, or sooner if possible.
In witness whereof the respective Plenipotentiaries have signed the same, and affixed the seal of their arms.
Done at Geneva, the twenty-second day of August, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four.
(Here follow the signatures.)
A Conference of representatives of Switzerland, Baden, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, France, Hesse, Italy, Holland, Portugal, Prussia, and Würtemberg met at Geneva in August, 1864. This Conference was to a large extent due to the philanthropic efforts of MM. Gustav Moynier and Henri Dunant, both citizens of Switzerland. Having been eye-witnesses of the sufferings of the wounded at Magenta and Solferino, and the disease incident to the campaign, and the want of the needful medical and surgical appliances, M. Dunant in 1862 published a book entitled Le Souvenir de Solferino, which gave a terribly graphic description of the misery and suffering of the sick and wounded in war1 . A Swiss Society called La Société Genevoise d’Utilité Publique took up the ideas of M. Dunant with enthusiasm, and the Swiss Government was induced to summon a Conference to consider the subject of the treatment of the sick and wounded in war. The foregoing Convention was the result.
The following is a list of the states who have signed or adhered to this Convention (under the provisions of Article 9) with the dates of their signature or adherence:—The Argentine Republic (1879), Austria-Hungary (1866), Belgium (1864), Brazil (1906), Bolivia (1879), Bulgaria (1884), Chili (1879), China (1904), Colombia (1906), Congo (1888), Cuba (1907), Denmark (1864), Dominica (1907), Ecuador (1907), France (1864), Germany (1906), Great Britain (1865), Greece (1865), Guatemala (1903), Holland (1864), Honduras (1898), Hayti (1907), Italy (1864), Japan and Corea (1886 and 1903), Luxemburg (1888), Mexico (1905), Montenegro (1875), Nicaragua (1898), Norway (1864), Peru (1880), Persia (1874), Portugal (1866), Paraguay (1907), Panama (1907), Roumania (1874), Russia (1867), Salvador (1874), Servia (1876), Siam (1895), Spain (1864), Sweden (1864), Switzerland (1864), Turkey (1865), the United States of America (1882), Uruguay (1900), Venezuela (1894). In many cases the adherence of Powers was due to their ratification of the Convention with respect to the laws and customs of war on land signed at the Hague Conference of 1899, which by Article 21 incorporated the Geneva Convention of 1864.
This Convention was the first step towards the codification of rules of war applicable to land warfare. It represented the best existing practice on the subject, and the immunities which states were in the habit of according to those engaged in tending the sick and wounded. The lapse of nearly 35 years had rendered the terminology out of harmony with the existing arrangements of Army Medical Corps, and the use of the terms neutre and neutralité to describe the inviolability of persons and things covered by it was inexact. The Convention has no application to voluntary Aid Societies either of the belligerents or neutral Powers unless forming part of the belligerent armies. There was a growing desire for its revision1 , and among the “Wishes” (Vœux) expressed by the Hague Conference of 1899 was one to the effect that the Swiss Federal Government would take steps to call a Conference for the revision of the Convention. This Conference, which was attended by representatives of 37 Powers, met at Geneva in June, 1906, and adopted the Convention set forth on pages 18-35 which as between the contracting Powers now takes the place of that of 1864. As several important states, parties to the Convention of 1864, have not up to the present ratified the Convention of 1906, the former Convention will still regulate their relations in case of war between such of the parties who signed it but who have not ratified the latter Convention (Art. 31 of Geneva Convention, 1906).
The Geneva Conference of 1868. In 1868 the Swiss Government, at the request of a Conference of Red Cross Societies held at Paris during the Exhibition of 1867, summoned another Conference of the Powers to consider the subject of the treatment of sick and wounded in war. The following 14 Powers were represented at a Conference which met at Geneva in October, 1868: Austria-Hungary, Baden, Bavaria, Belgium, Denmark, France, the North German Confederation, Great Britain, Italy, Holland, Sweden and Norway, Switzerland, Turkey and Würtemberg. They agreed to a Convention of 15 Articles, the first five being explanations and additions to the Convention of 1864. The subsequent Articles are an application to naval warfare of the same principles. Owing to various causes the Convention was never ratified, but with some modifications its provisions have been acted on by belligerents since 18681 . The principles of Articles 6-15 were embodied in the Convention adopted by the Hague Convention (1899) for the adaptation to maritime warfare of the principles of the Geneva Convention of 18642 . The following is a translation of the Projet d’articles additionels à la Convention du 22 Août, 18643 .
Art. 1. The personnel designated in Article 2 of the Convention shall continue after occupation by the enemy to give their services, according to the measure of the necessities, to the sick and the wounded of the ambulance or hospital which they serve.
When they shall make a request to withdraw, the commander of the occupying forces shall fix the moment of their departure, which he cannot under any circumstances defer, except for a short period in case of military necessities.
(Cp. G. C. 1864, Arts. 2, 3. G. C. 1906, Art. 12.)
Art. 2. Provision ought to be made by the belligerent powers to assure to the persons neutralized, who have fallen into the hands of the enemy’s army, the complete enjoyment of their pay (la jouissance intégrale de son traitement).
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 13.)
Art. 3. In the conditions provided for by Articles 1 and 4 of the Convention, the term ambulance applies to field hospitals and other temporary establishments, which follow the troops on the field of battle to receive there the sick and wounded.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 6.)
Art. 4. In accordance with the spirit of Article 5 of the Convention, and under the reserves mentioned in the Protocol of 1864, it is explained that, as regards the division of the charges relative to the billeting of troops and the contributions of war, account will only be taken of the charitable spirit shown by the inhabitants in so far as equitable considerations may be applicable.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 5.)
Art. 5. In extension of Article 6 of the Convention, it is stipulated that with the reservation of officers, the detention of whom may be important to the success of the war, and within the limits fixed by the second paragraph of this Article, the wounded who have fallen into the hands of the enemy, although they may not have been recognized as incapable of service, ought to be sent back to their country after their wounds are healed, or sooner if it be possible, on condition always of not resuming arms during the continuance of the war.
(Cp. G. C. 1906, Art. 2.)
[1 ]In 1901, M. Dunant was awarded the Nobel Prize for his efforts to mitigate the severity of war. A new edition of his work was published at Amsterdam in 1902.
[1 ]See Lueder, La Convention de Genève; Mérignhac, La Conférence de la Paix, § 76; also list of works cited by the same author on p. 127 of Les Lois et Coutumes de Guerre; see also references given in note 1, p. 8 ante, and note 1, p. 18 post. A valuable sketch of the legislation in various countries for enforcing the Geneva Convention will be found in two Articles of Prof. Gustave de Roszkowski in La Revue de Droit International (2nd series), Vol. vi.  pp. 76, 188. See British Parliamentary Papers relating to the Geneva Convention of 1906 [1908, Cd. 3933] for a translation of the various enactments and regulations (pp. 64-73).
[1 ]It served as a modus vivendi during the Franco-German War of 1870 (L. Renault, Les deux Conférences de la Paix, p. 173).
[2 ]M. G. de Lapradelle is of opinion that the Convention of 1899 is inferior to that of 1868 (La Conférence de la Paix).
[3 ]De Martens, Nouveau Recueil Général de Traités, Vol. xviii. pp. 612-9; Vol. xx. pp. 400-435; Sir T. Twiss, International Law, Vol. ii. p. 534.