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Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
[p.251] ARTICLE 46
. -- DETAILED EXECUTION. UNFORESEEN CASES
This provision is not new; Article 19 of the Tenth Hague Convention of 1907
contained a similar provision, except that it put the whole of the responsibility on the Commanders-in-Chief. The present Article designates them as intermediaries but places the primary responsibility for application of the Convention on each "Party to the conflict". If this rule is to be put into practice, executive measures must be taken in order to regulate in minute detail the actual situations which arise.
Commanders-in-Chief will have, for example, to take the necessary action on the spot, during the fighting, to ensure respect and protection for the wounded, sick and shipwrecked (Article 12, paragraph 1
). After an engagement, they will have to make local arrangements for searching for and collecting the shipwrecked, wounded and sick (Article 18, paragraph 1
) and make sure that care is given first to those in most urgent need of medical treatment (Article 12, paragraph 3
). They will also try to make local arrangements for the evacuation of protected persons (Article 18, paragraph 2
). They will appeal to the charity of merchant ships, yachts or neutral vessels to take on board and care for the wounded and sick and to collect the dead, if circumstances so require (Article 21, paragraph 1
During the fighting, Commanders-in-Chief will see to it that the enemy's sick-bays are protected and once the engagement is [p.252] over they will have to decide whether they need them for the care and treatment of their own wounded and sick, according to the conditions specified in Article 28, paragraph 2
. Similarly, they will be responsible for deciding to what extent the religious, medical and hospital personnel who have fallen into their hands should be allowed to continue their duties in behalf of the wounded and sick whom they were attending at the time of capture (Article 37, paragraph 1
Further, in the same way, Commanders-in-Chief will have to provide for cases which are not catered for in the Convention. For the latter could not make specific provision for all the possible situations which might arise during a conflict. Article 46
gives us the criterion which should be applied in order to find a solution in such cases -- namely, that the general principles of the Convention must always be followed. Among those principles, there is one which summarizes them all: it is that the wounded, sick and shipwrecked are to be protected in all circumstances and cared for without distinction of nationality.
It is by their compliance with this dual duty of detailed execution and provision for unforeseen cases that the Powers will meet in full the obligation they have incurred under Article 1
of the Convention, of which the present Article is a complementary part.