The Geneva Conventions turn 70

The Geneva Conventions – one of humanity's most important accomplishments of the last century - are turning 70 on 12 August 2019. It's a moment to celebrate all the lives the conventions have helped save, note the further work that needs to be done and to remind the world of the importance of protecting people from the worst of warfare.
Article 08 August 2019

The Conventions are a vital global pledge born out of the kind of suffering we see today in Syria, Yemen, and South Sudan, among other conflicts around the world.

In 1949, in the aftermath of World War II, the Conventions were universally agreed upon by States because they reflect universal values of moral and ethical behavior. 70 years on, they remain as necessary and life-saving as they were intended to be.


The Conventions embody a pragmatic balance between military necessity and humanitarian considerations. These laws of war set down the fundamental obligation that people, even in times of armed conflict, must be treated with humanity. Enemies must see each other as human beings. Our collective challenge today is to find ways to ensure greater respect within the changing dynamics of conflict.

We are calling on States and non-state actors to take up this challenge, and to universally and unequivocally respect, implement, and ensure respect for international humanitarian law (IHL).