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Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
. -- REPATRIATION AND RETURN TO LAST PLACE
OF RESIDENCE (1)
This Article is based on the following provisions of the Stockholm Draft:
' Return to domicile, emigration ': The High Contracting Parties shall endeavour upon the close of hostilities or occupation, to facilitate the return to their domicile, or the settlement in a new residence, of all persons who, as the result of war or occupation, are unable to live under normal conditions at the place where they may be.
The High Contracting Parties shall, in particular, ensure that these persons may be able to travel, if they so desire, to other countries and that they are provided for this purpose with passports or equivalent documents.
The Diplomatic Conference was of the opinion that this Draft imposed on signatory States in respect of their nationals or even of aliens in general, obligations going beyond those which could be imposed by a Convention (2).
[p.517] This is regrettable since in the narrow framework now given to it, Article 134 merely touches on the very wide problems raised by the existence of large numbers of refugees and displaced persons. If the Stockholm Draft had been adopted, certain inequalities which have very often shocked humanitarian sentiment in the application of regulations concerning refugees could perhaps have been avoided. Indeed, the empirical definition in the Draft of persons to be assisted would not have permitted any discrimination between men in equal distress as a result of events.
Whatever the case may be, the Article as it stands recommends that the "High Contracting Parties" (i.e., any of those Parties it might concern) shall assist in carrying out two courses of action which might return matters to normal, i.e. the return of internees to their last place of residence or their repatriation. However, these two courses, the only two mentioned, are far from being sufficient to meet all humanitarian requirements, especially if memory recalls the political, economic and social disturbances which, not long ago, shook the world (3).
Notes: (1) [(1) p.516] It is interesting, in this connection, to read
the account of the discussions in Committee III of the
Diplomatic Conference (47th meeting, ' Final Record, '
Vol. II-A, p. 791). See also on the same subject, Annex
227, ' Final Record, ' Vol. III, p. 115;
(2) [(2) p.516] See ibid. Vol. II-A, p. 844;
(3) [(1) p.517] It should be recalled, in this connection,
that after the Second World War, the International
Committee of the Red Cross lent its assistance on many
occasions in repatriating internees, particularly by
arranging convoys and organizing food supplies and medical
assistance. See, in this connection, the ' Report of the
International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities
during the Second World War ', Vol. I pp. 629 ff.;