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Commentary - Chapter II : Wounded and sick
    [p.132] CHAPTER II


    WOUNDED AND SICK (1)

    This Chapter is one of the most important in the Convention. The Convention may even be said to rest upon it, since it embodies the essential idea which was championed by the founders of the Red Cross and has dominated the whole of the Geneva Convention since 1864 -- the idea, namely, that the person of the soldier who has been wounded or who is sick, and for that reason is ' hors de combat, ' is from that moment sacred and inviolable. He must be tended with the same care, whether he be friend or foe.
    Any Convention must logically begin with a certain number of definitions, the object of which is to specify and delimit the subject matter. Such is the purpose of the present Chapter, which for practical purposes should be regarded as being the first in the Convention.
    In addition to the great principle of inviolability stated above, the Chapter contains a definition of the military and other persons to whom, when they are wounded or sick, the Convention is to apply; their status is also defined, and there are a number of provisions which relate to them exclusively: to the search for them on the battlefield, their evacuation, their registration by the Power by which they are received, the transmission of particulars concerning them and provisions relating to the dead. The Chapter further contains a final Article (Article 18 ) dealing with the role of the population in regard to the wounded and sick.
    If the present Chapter is compared with the corresponding provisions of 1929, 1906 and 1864, it will be found that there has, on the whole, been no radical change. On the other hand the form has been completely [p.133] changed, and numerous additions have been made in matters of detail, The changes are particularly striking if reference is made to the original text of 1864, in which only one Article in ten related to the wounded and sick. The majority of the new provisions could have been regarded as implicit in the earlier texts; but their incorporation in the written law is none the less an important advance. By its attitude in developing and strengthening the former text the Diplomatic Conference of 1949 has indicated, in this as in other instances, its desire to accord to war victims even greater guarantees of humane treatment than in the past.


    * (1) [(1) p.132] For brevity the word "wounded" will sometimes
    be used alone. But it is intended in such cases to cover
    the "sick" as well. The Convention accords the same status
    to both;