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Geneva Conventions of 1949 achieve universal acceptance

Tuesday August 22, 2006

For the first time in modern history an international treaty has achieved universal acceptance.

The recent accessions by the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Montenegro to the 1949 Geneva Conventions confirm the status of these conventions as the most widely accepted international treaties and represent a landmark in the development of protection for victims of armed conflict.

'At a time when armed conflicts continue to take their toll on human lives, it is important to reaffirm the importance of the Geneva Conventions as the basis for the protection of human dignity and the preservation of humanity in the midst of war,' said Robert Tickner, CEO of Australian Red Cross.

'These accessions by Nauru and Montenegro mean that now, each of the 194 nations worldwide officially recognise the Geneva conventions and their importance in forming the basis for International Humanitarian Law, which governs behaviour in conflicts,' he said.

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 constitute the fundamental law protecting victims of armed conflict and governing the conduct of hostilities in wartime.

As the promoter and guardian of international humanitarian law, the International Committee of the Red Cross welcomed the universal acceptance of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and once again reminded all belligerents of their obligation to abide by the laws of war.

'The recent hostilities in the Middle East and the unfortunate prevalence of war and conflict around the world, mean the Geneva Conventions are as crucially important now as they have ever been' said Mr Tickner.