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Special stamp for the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions (1949-1999)


CICR, gardien des Conventions de Genève

ICRC, custodian of the Geneva Conventions









12 August 1999 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions  . These Conventions -- which are central to international humanitarian law -- are the most important international instruments to defend human dignity in war and among the most widely ratified treaties in the world. The purpose of international humanitarian law is to limit human suffering in times of armed conflict and to prevent atrocities.

Today virtually all the countries in the world are party to the Geneva Conventions. The States party to the Conventions pledge to:

  •  respect all civilians and soldiers who can no longer fight, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria;

  •  prohibit inhuman or degrading treatment, torture, the taking of hostages, mass extermination, summary executions, deportations, pillage and the wanton destruction of private property;

  •  authorize ICRC delegates to visit prisoners of war and civilian internees, and to interview people in detention in private.

On the eve of the 21st century, this anniversary is more than simply a commemoration. It is an opportunity to reflect on the past, come to terms with the present and look ahead to the future. The ICRC, as custodian of the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols (which supplement the Conventions and place certain limits on the use of violence during hostilities, in order to protect the civilian population better), has taken the initiative of launching a campaign which aims to position humanitarian law in the context of modern-day warfare.

The project, " People on War " , is designed to involve those who have experience of war. It will generate a debate among people from all fields with an interest in humanitarian law, including government and military legal authorities, community leaders, academics, journalists, aid workers and staff of international organizations. In parallel, the ICRC will make the general public more aware of the existing rules and their importance in warfare. Both the Swiss authorities (Switzerland is the depositary State of the 1949 Geneva Conventions) and the ICRC hope that the creation of this special stamp will contrib ute to that awareness.

 The stamp will be available in Swiss post offices from 5 May 1999 to 29 February 2000 and in philatelic bureaux until 31 May 2000.  

 For information, please contact the Swiss Post Office at the following address:  

Timbres-poste et philatélie, service clientèle

3030 Berne


Fax: ++41 31 338 73 08  

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