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.
-- PROHIBITED WORK
The Agreement we are discussing is only concerned with hospital zones reserved for military wounded and sick, and not with safety zones [p.417] for certain categories of the civilian population. (1) Consequently, the above provision will, with very few exceptions, appy in practice to the local population alone. The wounded and sick, and medical personnel, will quite obviously be unable to undertake productive work.
What is meant by "work directly connected with military operations"? A similar expression had already been used in the 1929 Prisoners of War Convention when describing work which prisoners could not be compelled to do. Owing to its vagueness, it was given various interpretations, and when the Third Convention was revised in 1949, the Diplomatic Conference made a point of defining the idea more fully in Article 50
which it may be profitable to refer to here. The Article in question authorizes the employment of prisoners of war on the following classes of work:
(b) industries connected with the production or the extraction of raw
materials, and manufacturing industries, with the exception of
metallurgical, machinery and chemical industries; public works and
building operations which have no military character or purpose;
(c) transport and handling of stores which are not military in character
(d) commercial business, and arts and crafts;
(e) domestic service;
(f) public utility services having no military character or purpose.
There is less difficulty about the expression "production of war material". It goes without saying that the manufacture of arms is excluded, and so is the manufacture of any article, substance or apparatus which will be used solely by the army. There are, however, a number of doubtful cases -- the manufacture of lorries, for example, since such vehicles may be used exclusively for civilian purposes, but may also be used by the armed forces.
As can be seen, the solution provided by Article 2 is not as complete as could have been desired. This is one of the points which States might deal with in greater detail when bringing the Agreement into force.
[p.418] Nevertheless, in view of the difficulty of the question, it would, we feel, be well to make every effort to ensure that the local population in a hospital zone is always as small as possible.
* (1) [(1) p.417] Safety zones form the subject of another Draft
Agreement, annexed to the Fourth Geneva Convention of