Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
[p.275] ARTICLE 56
. -- RATIFICATION
Ratification is the formal act by which a Power finally accepts the text of the Convention which has been signed at an earlier stage by its plenipotentiaries. This act, carried out by the body competent under the municipal law of each country, can alone give the Convention obligatory force and make it binding on the State concerned.
' Paragraph 1 ', which states that the Convention "shall be ratified as soon as possible", is a pressing recommendation to each country to hasten the procedure.
In accordance with normal practice, provision has not been made for the direct exchange of ratifications between signatory countries, but for their deposit with a government which is made responsible for receiving them and for notifying receipt. This task has been entrusted to the Swiss Federal Council, the traditional depositary of the Geneva Conventions.
' Paragraph 2 ' lays down that copies of the record of deposit of each ratification are to be sent to all Powers party to the Convention; the powers will thus be informed of any reservations which may accompany the ratification.
The absence of any objection to a reservation on the part of a State to which it is thus communicated may be taken as denoting assent. There are a number of opinions regarding the consequences of in objection, but it seems consistent with humanitarian spirit to consider that the Convention binds together all the parties thereto in respect to all those provisions which have not been the subject of a reservation.
[p.276] Similarly, it is obvious that a reservation which is accepted, expressly or tacitly, will affect only the relations which the State making it maintains with other contracting Powers, and not the relations of those Powers among themselves.
As stated above, a reservation made at the time of signature is valid only if it is confirmed at the time of ratification (1).
* (1) [(1) p.276] As regards reservations and their effect, see
Claude PILLOUD: ' Reservations to the 1949 Geneva
Conventions ', Geneva 1958;