Unnumbered ICRC Circulars 1952-1954: “Replies of the International Committee of the Red Cross to requests for information on the Geneva Conventions and cognate questions”

04 March 2015
Unnumbered ICRC Circulars 1952-1954: “Replies of the International Committee of the Red Cross to requests for information on the Geneva Conventions and cognate questions”

While the ICRC was working on the publication of the first Commentaries to the newly adopted Geneva Conventions of 1949, it sent National Societies and Governments five "Information Notes", entitled "Replies of the International Committee of the Red Cross to requests for information on the Geneva Conventions and cognate questions".

The full versions of these Information Notes, which were issued between May 1952 and November 1954, have never been published and, at the time, they were scarcely mentioned in the International Review of the Red Cross.

The introduction to the first Note reads:

"For a long time past a number of National Red Cross Societies have put questions to the ICRC as to the interpretation of particular clauses of the Geneva Conventions, or as to the best way of dealing with particular cases in accordance with the provisions of the Conventions. Questions of this kind, the frequency of which has increased since the drawing up of the new Conventions of 12 August 1949, also reach the Committee from Governments, international organizations, private undertakings, or even individuals. Such questions show the importance which the questioners attach to the Geneva Conventions [...]. The ICRC is accordingly anxious to reply as fully as possible to these questions, but must at the same time make clear - here and at all times – that it is not qualified to give authentic interpretations of the Conventions, since that rests only with the States parties to the Conventions acting in mutual consultation. Some of the questions submitted to the ICRC are of general interest, and may concern more Red Cross Societies than one. The ICRC thinks that National Societies would be glad to be informed in future of the replies which the Committee gives to those questions which have this general character. The Committee has accordingly decided to inform them from time to time as to the contents of its replies in the form of "Information Notes".

Although the main content of these replies was then enlarged upon in the Commentaries, footnotes in the latter sometimes refer to these Information Notes.

 Information Note no1

Information Note no2

Information Note no3

Information Note no4

Information Note no5

The library found them in a collection called "Circulaires non-numérotées du CICR" which contains a number of external communications (circulars, information notes and memorandums) most of which, unlike the above-mentioned Notes, have been published in the International Review of the Red Cross – but some other gems might still be hiding in this collection. The list of documents in this series may be consulted here: Circulaires non numerotees ToC

Information_note_no1.pdf

Information_note_no2.pdf

Information_note_no3.pdf

Information_note_no4.pdf

Information_note_no5.pdf

Circulaires_non_numerotees_toc.pdf

Subscribe to the ICRC newsletter