ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
  • Print page
Commentary - Part III : Status and treatment of protected persons #Section V : Information bureaux and central agency
    SECTION V


    ' INFORMATION BUREAUX AND CENTRAL AGENCY '

    INTRODUCTION

    The establishment of national Information Bureaux and the Central Agency is based on the conventions regarding prisoners of war. In its first drafts of a convention for civilians, the International Committee of the Red Cross had from the very beginning envisaged that these Bureaux and the Agency would also operate in behalf of civilian internees. When it proposed, in the 1934 Tokyo Draft and in the text submitted to the Conference of Government Experts in 1947, the adoption of a general clause providing for the application of the Prisoners of War Convention to civilian internees by analogy, the International Committee considered that it had automatically ensured this extension. However, the Conference of Government Experts considered that the position of civilian internees required a special statute and it was decided to incorporate in that statute articles which would adapt to civilians the provisions of the 1929 Prisoners of War Convention concerning national Bureaux and the Agency (1).
    Later on, the International Committee pointed out that the transmission of information by this means should not be limited to civilian internees alone but that its advantages should be extended to all persons protected by the Convention. It took the Articles mentioned from the section concerning the status of internees and placed them in a special section, the last in Part III, devoted to the status and treatment of protected persons. This viewpoint was approved by the XVIIth International Red Cross Conference and finally by the Diplomatic Conference.
    [p.522] The six Articles of this section have been based on the corresponding provisions of the Third Convention (Articles 122 to 124) with such alterations are as necessary in view of the different position of civilians (2).


    Notes: (1) [(1) p.521] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
    Government Experts, ' pp. 295 and 328;

    (2) [(1) p.522] A detailed account of the origin and the
    development of national Information Bureaux and the Agency
    and of their activities on behalf of prisoners of war will
    be given in the commentary on the Third Convention;