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Geneva Conventions of 1949 achieve universal acceptance

21-08-2006 News Release 06/96

Geneva (ICRC) – For the first time in modern history an international treaty has achieved universal acceptance. The recent accessions by the Republic of Nauru and the Republic of Montenegro to the 1949 Geneva Conventions confirm the status of these conventions as the most widely accepted international treaties and represent a landmark in the development of protection for victims of armed conflict.

“At a time when armed conflicts continue to take their toll on human lives and on material means of survival, it is important to reaffirm the contribution of international humanitarian law to the protection of human dignity and the preservation of humanity in the midst of war,” said Jean-Philippe Lavoyer, head of the legal division of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005 constitute the fundamental law protecting victims of armed conflict and governing the conduct of hostilities in wartime.

As the promoter and guardian of international humanitarian law, the ICRC welcomes the universal acceptance of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and once again reminds all belligerents of their obligation to abide by the laws of war.

Nauru acceded to the four Geneva Conventions on 27 June and Montenegro on 2 August, bringing the number of States party to these instruments to 194. As both countries also acceded to the 1977 Protocols additional to the Geneva Conventions, 166 States are now party to Additional Protocol I and 162 are party to Additional Protocol II. The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols of 1977 will enter into force for Nauru on 27 December 2006 and for Montenegro on 2 February 2007.

For further information, please contact:
  Stéphane Hankins, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 24 19
  Marco Jiménez Rodríguez, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 22 730 22 71 or +41 79 217 32 17