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Draft International Convention on the Condition and Protection of Civilians of enemy nationality who are on territory belonging to or occupied by a belligerent. Tokyo, 1934.
This draft originated in the exactions suffered by innumerable civilian victims during World War I. As of the end of this conflict, the need to ensure mandatory legal protection for civilians became abundantly clear. In this context, several International Conferences of the Red Cross (Tenth in 1921; Eleventh in 1923, and Twelfth in 1925, all in Geneva) adopted Resolutions inviting the ICRC to undertake action in this field. The Final Act of the Diplomatic Conference of 1929 recalled the unanimous wish of participants "that an extensive examination be made with a view to concluding and international convention on the condition and protection of enemy civilians on the territory of a belligerent or on territory occupied by him". In response to these requests, the ICRC set up a commission of experts who were set the task of drawing up a draft convention. Two categories of civilians were to be protected by this instrument:
1. enemy civilians on the territory of a belligerent
2. civilians in the power of the enemy in occupied territories.
Whereas the protection of the first category of civilians constituted an entirely new idea, the work on the protection of civilians in occupied territories aimed to complete and specify the regulations set forth in Articles 42-56 of the "Regulations concerning the law and customs of war on land", annexed to the Convention (IV) of the Hague of 1907.
The draft prepared by the Commission was adopted at the fifteenth International Conference of the Red Cross in Tokyo in 1934 and contains four distinct subjects:
I. The status of enemy civilians
II. Enemy civilians on the territory of a belligerent
III. Enemy civilians on the territory occupied by a belligerent
IV. Implementation of the Convention.
The draft was to be discussed at the Diplomatic Conference convened by the Swiss government at the beginning of 1940 but the outbreak of hostilities prevented this meeting from taking place.
Nonetheless, from the very first days of the war, the ICRC proposed that belligerents put the Tokyo Draft into effect but this proposal was rejected.
It was not until 1949 that the proposals contained in the Tokyo Draft were reconsidered. They offered an extremely important basis for discussions which led to the adoption of the Geneva Convention (IV) of 1949.
Forum of adoption :
XVth International Conference of The Red Cross
Meetings of forum :
Number of articles :
Authentic text :
Tokyo Draft. Translation by the ICRC.
Download document(s) :
IHL-43-EN.pdf (20.98 kb)