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Annex I (to Protocol Additional I to the Geneva Conventions of 1949) : Regulations concerning identification, 6 June 1977
Identity card for permanent civilian medical and religious personnel
[p.1153] Annex I, Article 1
-- Identity card for permanent civilian medical and religious personnel
[p.1154] General remarks
3968 The characteristics of this identity card are similar to those of the card for military medical and religious personnel governed by
of the first Convention but, following Committee II's
discussion of Article 18
' (Identification) ' of the Protocol, they
are not compulsory. (1) It was considered advisable to avoid any
rigid standardization of the items to be included in this document
intended for civilians, since each country has its own population
registration methods and its own procedures for keeping files on
civilians and their identity documents. At present there are no
international standards in this sphere. The International
Standardization Organization (ISO) would be the competent body to
study international standards for identity documents. Some of its
Technical Committees have drawn up codes for the representation of
country names, as well as systems or documents relating to the
romanization of Arabic, Chinese, Cyrillic and Hebrew characters. (2)
3969 Whatever national standards exist for identity documents, the characteristics of the identity card proposed in paragraph 1 enable
the civilian and military authorities of the Parties to the conflict
to check the holder's identity and entitlement to wear the
distinctive emblem. The colour of the identity card is not specified;
the Technical Sub-Committee of Committee II suggested that it should
be white, this making it easier to represent the red distinctive
emblem on a white ground.
3970 Current developments in computer information processing systems make it possible to produce very small identity cards for military
use ("electronic dog tags"). Neither this type of identity card, nor
the type used for bank cards or to [p.1155] restrict access to
high-security areas, nor again the type of identity card which is
based on biometric techniques, can replace the identity card provided
for in the Conventions and the Protocol, (3) which can be
manufactured without recourse to sophisticated techniques and
contains information comprehensible to everybody, everywhere.
3971 Article 1
does not provide for an identity disc to be worn by permanent civilian medical and religious personnel. However, it would
be advisable to provide such personnel with a disc similar to that
intended for military personnel and referred to in Articles 16 and 40
of the first Convention. This precaution should be taken, at least in
the areas mentioned in Article 18
' (Identification), ' paragraph 3,
of the Protocol.
3972 The manufacture of identity cards and discs should be studied and, if possible, prepared in peacetime; the production of these
documents should on no account be improvised once a conflict has
' Sub-paragraph ' (a)
3973 The distinctive emblem which should appear on the identity card is the red cross or red crescent, models for which are given in
Figure 2 of Annex I; the red lion and sun which also appears in
figure 2 is no longer used and has been replaced in Iran since 1980
by the red crescent. (5)
3974 The two red crosses appearing at the top of the model identity card in figure 1 are not compulsory. A single red cross or red
crescent would suffice and it could be placed anywhere on the card.
The national emblem may also be represented, together with the name
of the country. If the identity card is white, the distinctive emblem
may be stamped or printed on it in red: the emblem must be red on a
3975 So that the identity card may easily be carried in the pocket, the Technical Sub-Committee suggested that the A7 format be used, so
as to produce a rectangular 74 x 1,05 mm card printed recto-verso.
Under ISO international [p.1156] standards, the A7 format is equal to
one-eighth of the 297 x 210 mm A4 format; A4 paper is commonly used
for writing and typing. (6)
3976 The A7 format identity card may be printed either upright or sideways and is designed to receive a photograph measuring at least
55 x 40 mm.
' Sub-paragraph ' (b)
3977 By the term "as durable as practicable", the Technical Sub-Committee meant that the card should be crease-resistant,
water-resistant and dirt-resistant. These criteria are met by
plastified paper or paperboard and by the stiff plastic materials
used to make badges and bank credit cards. Finally, the identity card
may be placed in a transparent, hermetically sealed holder or,
failing that, in any type of protective covering.
' Sub-paragraph ' (c)
3978 In some countries the identity cards issued to civilians are bilingual or trilingual, but in many other countries they are
monolingual. The model in figure 1 provides enough space to print the
various items in two languages; in that case, care should be taken to
ensure that the text concerning protection is prominently displayed.
3979 To facilitate the translation of the information on the identity card into a language other than the national language, the items
could be numbered, starting with 1 for the name of the country and
issuing authority. (7) The list of items numbered from 1 to 16 could
then be translated into other languages and exchanged for the
corresponding list of the other Party to the conflict, which could be
reproduced and distributed as appropriate.
3980 The official language referred to in this sub-paragraph is that recognized as official State language. This official or national
language may therefore not be [p.1157] among those used for the
authentic texts referred to in Article 102
of the Protocol
' (Authentic texts). ' Furthermore, there may be more than one
national or official language in a given country.
3981 It is advisable for the other languages spoken in the national territory to be used, together with the official language, for
drawing up the identity card. (8) When it is possible to do so, there
may be some advantage in also using an international language for the
' Sub-paragraph ' (d)
3982 Usage regarding family and first names or other constituent parts of the name varies from country to country and sometimes even inside
the same country. Consequently, after lengthy discussions, Committee
II decided that the first name should not appear on the identity card
as a separate item. Thus the competent authorities can give the name
customarily used in the country to identify a person, together with
the first name(s) if appropriate. That customary name should be
entered first and perhaps even underlined in order to make it clear
that it identifies the person. The habitual first name should be
entered immediately after the name. (9)
3983 The date of birth, which is an important means of identification, may in some countries not be known for a large number of people. In
such cases, the person's age may be established by a medical
commission which issues a certificate stating the presumed age, from
which the year of birth may be deduced. If the exact date of birth is
unknown, the person's age, at least in approximate terms, should be
entered on the identity card.
3984 One of the delegates in the Technical Sub-Committee observed that complications might arise from the fact that not all countries have
he same calendar. In fact, the differences between the various
calendars in use are known and, if necessary, the competent services
could publish any information required for the conversion of dates.
3985 As a general rule, civilians are not given an identity number in peacetime; however, if such a number is assigned to permanent
civilian medical and religious personnel in time of armed conflict,
it could usefully be entered on the card in order to facilitate
identification. In that case, the same number should also appear on
the identity disc, if any, issued to such civilian personnel.
' Sub-paragraph ' (e)
3986 The card must indicate the holder's medical or religious status. Both categories of personnel are mentioned in the specimen card
reproduced in figure 1, and all that has to be done is to strike out
the term which does not apply.
[p.1158] 3987 It would also be desirable to give a precise indication of the holder's capacity by mentioning his profession: surgeon,
anaesthetist, doctor, nurse, ambulance driver etc.
3988 In the case of a minister of religion, additional information such as denomination, capacity -- for example, hospital chaplain --
or possible attachment to a relief organization could be helpful for
purposes of identification.
3989 In certifying clearly the holder's status, the identity card complies with the provision of Article 18
' (Identification), '
paragraph 3, of the Protocol.
' Sub-paragraph ' (f)
3990 In the case of permanent civilian personnel, there should be no difficulty in affixing the holder's photograph to the identity card.
The photograph is an essential feature of all identity documents and is used in all countries.
3991 The holder's signature must appear on the identity card, as evidence that he recognizes the accuracy of the description given
therein of his status. The signature is also an aid to
identification, as is the thumbprint which may either replace or
accompany the signature. In order to avoid confusion, it may be
advisable for the holder to sign the back of the photograph as well.
' Sub-paragraph ' (g)
3992 The stamp and signature of the competent authority are essential as evidence of the identity card's validity. In the model in figure
1, the place for "signature of issuing authority" is on the front
side whereas the space for the stamp is on the back. This arrangement
is not compulsory; the authority's signature and stamp could equally
well be in the same place.
3993 Article 1
does not state whether the identity card should bear a number; nevertheless, the specimen in figure 1 has a space for "No.
of card". This is a suggestion in keeping with the provisions of
of the first Convention (Identification of medical and
religious personnel) and the specimen military identity card annexed
to that Convention.
' Sub-paragraph ' (h)
3994 The requirement that the identity card for permanent civilian medical and religious personnel should state the date of issue and
expiry is consistent with the widespread practice of making civilian
identity documents renewable periodically. Compulsory renewal enable
changes in the holder's physical appearance, duties etc. to be taken
3995 If necessary, the extension of the card's validity may be certified and signed by the competent authority on the card itself,
in the space which the specimen in figure 1 provides for "Other
distinguishing marks or information".
[p.1159] Paragraph 2
3996 The provisions of this paragraph, like those of the second paragraph of Article 40
of the first Convention, are compulsory. The
requirement that the identity card for permanent civilian medical and
religious personnel must be uniform throughout the national territory
is an essential one, since the card is not necessarily issued in the
place where the protected person usually pursues his professional
activities in peacetime. Since communications may break down,
identity cards which may have been issued anywhere on the national
territory can only be controlled effectively if they all follow a
3997 The issuing authority which maintains control of the cards issued to protected civilian personnel will be in touch with the
professional bodies concerned, the personnel services of medical
establishments, civilian and religious administrative bodies and
National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies. Each country, taking
into account its special situation, will designate the authority
which is to be in charge of keeping the files and duplicate copies of
cards issued, replacing lost cards, extending or updating cards
3998 When the Parties to the Conflict transmit specimen identity cards to each other, they should attach a translation into the adverse
Party's national language of the card's particulars.
3999 The stipulation that permanent civilian medical and religious personnel may in no circumstances be deprived of their identity cards
is designed to protect such personnel against arbitrary decisions
which might jeopardize their humanitarian activity. This is how the
prohibition should be interpreted. Obviously, if the holder of such
an identity card were to be found guilty of violating his
humanitarian mission or flouting medical ethics, he would lose his
entitlement to the card. Nevertheless, he should not be completely
deprived of an identity document.
4000 Paragraph 3 bears a resemblance to the fourth paragraph of Article 40
of the first Convention, which states that protected
personnel may not be deprived of the right to wear the distinctive
emblems (armlet). The same applies to civilian personnel issued with
identity cards entitling them to respect and protection.
' Ph.E. '
NOTES (1) [(1) p.1154] O.R. XI, p. 166, CDDH/II /SR.18, para. 8;
(2) [(2) p.1154] Standards ISO R9-68, ISO 233-1984, ISO 259-1984, ISO R843-1968, ISO 7098-1982, ISO 3166, ISO
(3) [(3) p.1155] Biometry: "biology from a statistical point of view, especially with reference to problems of
variation" (Funk & Wagnalls Dictionary). It enables
fingerprint patterns and the shape of faces and hands,
etc. to be identified;
(4) [(4) p.1155] The Conventions and their Additional Protocols do not propose a model identity disc. Some are
oval in shape, measuring about 6 cm lengthwise and 4 cm
across and are made of 1 mm stainless steel. They are
partially perforated along the short axis so that they can
be broken into two, each half being engraved with the
particulars stipulated in Article 16 of the First
Convention. Two holes are pierced at each end of the long
axis; the disc may then be hung round the neck on a 60 cm
stainless steel chain;
(5) [(5) p.1155] The delegate of Israel recalled that in his country the red shield of David (six-branched star) was
used as a distinctive emblem. Patterns of the emblems may
be found in: Ph. Eberlin, ' Protective Signs, ' Geneva,
(6) [(6) p.1156] For comparison, the model identity cards annexed to the Conventions have the following sizes: First
and Second Conventions, 75 x 100 mm model; Third
Convention, 130 x 100 mm actual size;
(7) [(7) p.1156] The items of the model in Figure 1 could be numbered as follows:
1 -- Name of the country and authority issuing this card
2 -- Identity card for permanent/temporary civilian medical/religious personnel
3 -- Name
4 -- Date of birth (or age)
5 -- Identity No. (if any)
6 -- The holder of this card... (text in full)
7 -- Date of issue
8 -- No. of card... Signature of issuing authority
9 -- Date of expiry
13 --Other distinguishing marks or information
14 --Photo of holder
16 --Signature of holder or thumbprint or both;
(8) [(8) p.1157] O.R. XII, p. 189, CDDH/11/SR.72, paras. 18-20;
(9) [(9) p.1157] Ibid., p. 180, CDDH/11/SR.71, paras. 34-36; pp. 183-184, paras. 64-80;
(10) [(10) p.1159] Cf. ' Commentary I ', Art. 40;