Since their publication in 1950s and 1980s, respectively, the Commentaries on the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 have become a major reference for the application and interpretation of these treaties. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), together with a team of renowned experts, is currently updating these Commentaries in order to document developments and provide up-to-date interpretations.
This article provides insight into how, during the First World War, the ICRC handled the oversight of the respect of the 1906 Convention on the Wounded and Sick and the 1907 Hague Convention on Maritime Warfare, steadfastly working to uphold the law. It examines the ICRC’s view on the applicability of the Conventions, describes its handling of accusations of violations of international humanitarian law and, finally, shows how the ICRC engaged in a legal dialogue with States on the interpretation of various provisions in the 1906 Convention.
The article considers possible consequences of private military companies’ employees having the status of civilians under international humanitarian law and their potential impact on regulating these companies effectively.