People on War - Solemn Appeal on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions

 This Solemn Appeal was signed in the Alabama Room of Geneva Town Hall on 12 August 1999 by :  

 His Highness     Prince Saddrudin Aga Khan  

 Mr Kofi Annan  , Secretary-General of the United Nations  

 Ms Shabana Azmi  , India, actress  

 Ms Geraldine Chaplin  , United Kingdom, actress  

 H.R.H. Prince El Hassan bin Talal   of Jordan  

 Fayrouz  , Lebanon, singer and poet  

 Mr Serge Klarsfeld  , France, President of the Association Fils et Filles des Déportés Juifs de France  

 Mr Chris Moon  , United Kingdom, supporter of organizations for the disabled  

 Mr Jean Pictet  , Honorary Vice-President of the ICRC  

 Mr Vladimir Pozner  , Russian Federation, journalist  

 H.E. Mr Mário Soares  , former President of Portugal  

 H.E. General Amadou Toumani Touré  , former President of Mali  

 Ms Marian Wright Edelman  , President of the Children's Defense Fund  

 Mr Zhang Yuan  , China, stage and film director  

 Mr Adolfo Pérez Esquivel  , Argentina, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, was unable to attend for health reasons .

The universally recognized Geneva Conventions were adopted in this city 50 years ago today. The States Parties thereby declared their refusal to see the unprecedented horrors of the Second World War repeated.

Since then, these treaties have helped to alleviate much suffering but have not been able to prevent millions of innocent people from falling victim to the conflicts that have ravaged our planet.

Although they are often breached, the Geneva Conventions and the principles on which they are founded remain as valid and relevant as ever.

That is the opinion of thousands of individuals across the world who bear the physical and mental scars of war. Men, women and children have all talked about their experiences, their fears and their expectations. They are the voices of war, and we are convinced that these expectations can be met.

We have come together in Geneva to make a solemn appeal to all peoples, nations and governments. We call on the world:

  • to reject the idea that war is inevitable and to work tirelessly to eradicate its underlying causes;

  • to demand of all those involved in armed conflicts and all who are in a position to influence the course of such conflicts that they respect the essential humanitarian principles and the rules of international humanitarian law;

  • to spare civilians the agony of war;

  • to foster relations between individuals, peoples and nations on the basis of the principles that inspired the Geneva Conventions, namely,

  • respect for human dignity in all circumstances;

  • compassion for those who suffer;

  • solidarity.

We are convinced that disregard for these principles sets the stage for war and that respecting them during wartime facilitates the restoration of peace.

On the eve of a new millennium, let us all undertake to def end these principles and thus give hope to future generations.

Geneva, 12 August 1999