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Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
Art. 138. Part VI : Execution of the convention #Section II : Final provisions
. -- ENTRY INTO FORCE
PARAGRAPH 1. -- FIRST TWO RATIFICATIONS
The text says "not less than two instruments of ratification" to meet the improbable case of several States having ratified on the same day.
The Convention will, of course, enter into force at that juncture only 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.
That date marks an event of some importance, however; it is the date on which the Convention becomes an integral part of international law. Without the two ratifications, it would never be more than an historical document. Then only will it become possible for a non-signatory State to become party to the Convention by acceding to it (1).
When the Convention enters into force in a country, it does not follow that it is immediately applicable, since according to Articles 2
provision is only made for implementation in cases of armed conflict. Certain Articles may nevertheless be applicable in peacetime: for example, Article 127
(dissemination of the Convention), Articles 128
-131 (translations, rules of application, and penal sanctions), and Article 123
(creation of a Central Agency).
The number of ratifications required fore the Convention can enter into force has been reduced to a minimum, to make it possible [p.644] for non-signatory Powers to accede to this universal humanitarian Convention as soon as possible.
The six months which must elapse in the case of each State (2) before its ratification or accession takes effect should give it time to take such preliminary steps, particularly legislative and administrative measures, as are necessary in view of the new obligations it has assumed.
The present Convention actually entered into force on October 21, 1950, Switzerland having ratified it on March 31, 1950, and Yugoslavia on April 21 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 become bound in its relations with other Powers six months after each of them has ratified the Convention.
* (1) [(2) p.643] See commentary on Article 139;
(2) [(1) p.644] In practice, the waiting period will be longer
in the single case of the first State to ratify the
Convention, since it will be determined by the date of the