ICRC databases on international humanitarian law
  • Print page
Commentary - Art. 1. Annex I : Draft agreement relating to hospital and safety zones and localities
    [p.627] ANNEX I


    DRAFT AGREEMENT RELATING TO HOSPITAL AND
    SAFETY ZONES AND LOCALITIES

    In the commentary on Article 14 of the Convention, which invites Powers to establish hospital and safety zones and localities, several references were made to the Draft Agreement which the Diplomatic Conference of 1949 decided to annex to the text of the Convention.
    As stated, the Draft Agreement ha only been put forward to States as a model, but the fact that it as carefully drafted at the Diplomatic Conference, which finally adopted it, gives it a very real value. It could usefully be taken as a working basis, therefore, whenever a hospital zone is to be established.
    In view of its importance, brief comments on the Draft Agreement are given below.


    ARTICLE 1. -- BENEFICIARIES


    [p.628] Article 1 determines the categories of persons who will be entitled to reside in hospital zones (1).
    Paragraph 1 covers the same ground as Article 14 of the Convention, to which it refers. Reference should therefore be made to the commentary on that Article, for the categories of persons covered.
    The wording of the Convention does not define certain categories of persons very clearly, particularly the aged. Should the term "aged persons" be taken to mean those over 60, as the Conference of Experts of 1947 proposed? It is a moot point, but the age suggested may serve as a useful working basis.
    What proportion of the total population would be entitled to take shelter in a hospital and safety zone? As the question has not been studied systematically, some figures taken from the Swiss "Annuaire statistique" may be useful: according to the Annuaire the different categories of persons referred to in Article 14 of the Fourth Convention would represent the following percentages as far as Switzerland is concerned:

    Children under 15 years of age: 20.7%
    Mothers of children under 7 years of age approximately: 6%
    Expectant mothers: 0.3%
    Old people (over 65 years of age): 10%
    TOTAL: 37%

    If the infirm, the wounded and the sick are added to the total, the proportion will certainly exceed 40 % of the whole population. There can be no question of providing shelter in a zone only representing a small portion of the territory for such a large proportion of the population. There is no cause for undue concern, however. People living in country districts far away from the probable zone of military operations will hardly think of leaving their homes. It is nevertheless well to bear the figures in mind, in case it should, for instance, be proposed to arrange for the evacuation of a town and for the feeding of the evacuees and the necessary administrative staff.
    It should perhaps be added, that in the Committee's opinion, the expression "personnel entrusted with the organization and administration of these zones" must be taken in a fairly broad sense, to include, for example, the police, the department responsible for preventing illegal entry into the zone, and the fire and civil defence services, as [p.629] well as members of the Special Commissions provided for in Article 8 of the Draft Agreement.
    Paragraph 2 is concerned with the resident population which, although not mentioned in the Convention itself, must nevertheless be taken into account -- especially when dealing with hospital zones of some size. Residents in the zone have certain obligations which will be discussed in connection with the following Article .
    The Monaco Draft (2) authorized the temporary residence in a hospital zone of members of the armed forces on leave who originally came from the area in question. This would appear to be allowed by the existing text, and the same facility might well be extended to workers on holiday from war factories.


    Notes: (1) [(1) p.628] Under Article 13 of the Draft Agreement, it
    applies to hospital localities as well as to hospital
    zones. Everything said in regard to the "zones" should
    therefore be taken as also applying to "localities";

    (2) [(1) p.629] See Commentary on the First Geneva Convention,
    p. 208;