Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
-- ENTRY INTO FORCE
PARAGRAPH 1 -- THE FIRST TWO RATIFICATIONS
Under this clause, the Convention is to enter into force six months after two instruments of ratification have been deposited. (1)
The Convention will, of course, only enter into force, at this juncture, between the first two States which ratify the Convention, and then only after six months have elapsed from the date on which the second ratification was deposited.
[p.406] But that date marks an event of some importance; it is the date on which the Convention becomes an integral part of international law. Henceforward, the Convention exists as such, whereas without these two ratifications, it would never be more than a historical document. Now only does it become possible for a non-signatory State to become party to the Convention by acceding to it. (2)
When the Convention enters into force in a country, it does not follow that all its provisions must be applied immediately. The majority, as indicated in Articles 2
of the Convention, only require implementation in case of armed conflict. (3) Certain Articles must nevertheless be applied immediately, in peacetime; this is true, for example, of Articles 53
relating to the misuse of the red cross emblem.
The number of ratifications required before the Convention can enter into force has been reduced to a minimum, which is as it should be, since we are considering a humanitarian Convention of a universal character.
The six months which must elapse in the case of each State (4) before its ratification takes effect should give it time to take such preliminary measures, particularly in the legislative and administrative sphere, as are necessary in view of the new obligations it has assumed.
The Convention which we are studying entered into force on 21 October 1950, Switzerland having ratified it on 31 March 1950, and Yugoslavia on 21 April of the same year.
PARAGRAPH 2 -- OTHER RATIFICATIONS
The Convention will enter into force, for each State which subsequently ratifies it, six months after the deposit of the instrument of ratification. From that date, the State in question will be bound by the Convention in its relations with all Powers which have ratified it not less than six months before. Thereafter, it will be bound in its relations with other Powers six months after each of them has ratified the Convention.
[p.407] Further reference should be made here to the comments on paragraph 1.
* (1) [(3) p.405] The text says "' not less than ' two
instruments of ratification" to meet the improbable case
or several States having ratified on the same day;
(2) [(1) p.406] See below, page 459;
(3) [(2) p.406] See above, page 32;
(4) [(3) p.406] In practice, the waiting period will be longer
in the case of the first State which ratifies the
Convention, but only in that one case; the waiting period
in this first case will be determined by the date of the
See the Commentary of 2016