Geneva Convention


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Basic information on the various conventions covering the waging of war. Used as a basis for a debate in our War and Peace class.

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Geneva Convention

  1. 1. Geneva Conventions
  2. 2. Purpose <ul><li>To provide “rules” dictating the treatment of prisoners and civilians during war. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Laws of War <ul><li>We will not inflict unnecessary destruction or suffering </li></ul><ul><li>We will treat prisoners of war, captured or detained personnel, and civilians humanely. </li></ul><ul><li>We will not obey orders whose execution are in violation of the laws of war. </li></ul><ul><li>We are responsible for our unlawful acts </li></ul><ul><li>We are entitled to humane treatment if captured </li></ul>
  4. 4. Four Conventions <ul><li>I. Geneva Convention dealing with wounded and sick in armed forces in the field. </li></ul><ul><li>II. Geneva Convention dealing with wounded, sick and shipwrecked members of armed forces at sea. </li></ul><ul><li>III. Geneva Convention dealing with treatment of prisoners of war. </li></ul><ul><li>IV. Geneva Convention dealing with the protection of civilian persons in time
of war. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Additional Protocols from 1977 <ul><li>Protocol I: deals with
the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. </li></ul><ul><li>Protocol II: deals with the protection of victims of
non-international armed conflicts. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Some of the basics <ul><li>Signatories must abide by the rules, even if the enemy does not </li></ul><ul><li>Prisoners and Civilians must be treated humanely </li></ul><ul><li>Property must be respected to the greatest extent possible </li></ul>
  7. 7. What you can not do <ul><li>No taking of hostages </li></ul><ul><li>No “cruel treatment or torture” </li></ul><ul><li>No summary executions </li></ul><ul><li>No humiliating or degrading treatment </li></ul>
  8. 8. What constitutes a P.O.W.? <ul><li>Members of a recognized military </li></ul><ul><li>Members of a recognized militia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Must have a responsible leader </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must have distinguishable uniform / insignia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must carry arms openly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Must conduct operations w/in the laws of war </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Correspondents / News media / Contractors </li></ul><ul><li>Merchant sailors </li></ul><ul><li>Interned civilians of an occupied territory </li></ul>
  9. 9. Creation of the International Criminal Court <ul><li>Can try people and even national leaders for war crimes. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Slobodan Milosevic </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Children under 18 can not be charged </li></ul>
  10. 10. What is Torture? <ul><li>The Geneva Convention </li></ul><ul><li>Article 17 </li></ul><ul><li>“ No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind.” </li></ul><ul><li>--August, 1949 </li></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>The Geneva Convention </li></ul><ul><li>Article 130 </li></ul><ul><li>“ Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the Convention: willful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, willfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, compelling a prisoner of war to serve in the forces of the hostile Power, or willfully depriving a prisoner of war of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in this Convention.” </li></ul><ul><li>--August, 1949 </li></ul>
  12. 12. Rome statute of the International Criminal Court, 1998 <ul><li>&quot;Torture&quot; means the intentional infliction of severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, upon a person in the custody or under the control of the accused; except that torture shall not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to, lawful sanctions;” </li></ul>What is Torture?
  13. 13. Gonzales Definition <ul><li>U.S. Justice Department: “&quot;Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years. . . . We conclude that the statute, taken as a whole, makes plain that it prohibits only extreme acts.'' </li></ul>
  14. 14. Arguments in Support <ul><li>Gain valuable information quickly </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Jack Bauer vs the ticking time bomb” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Everyone else is doing it </li></ul><ul><li>They are not prisoners of war </li></ul>
  15. 15. “They are not POWs” argument <ul><li>Geneva Convention restrictions apply to prisoners of war, i.e., soldiers from other countries’ armies. </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorist groups are not nation states and thus not deserving of Geneva Convention protections </li></ul><ul><li>Terrorist groups do not respect the Geneva Convention and are not signatories to it. </li></ul><ul><li>Sees morality as a contract and some people (terrorists) as not accepting the contract. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Arguments Against Torture <ul><li>The Inefficiency Argument </li></ul><ul><ul><li>It doesn’t work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ I’ll tell you anything just make it stop!” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Slippery Slope </li></ul><ul><li>The Reciprocity Argument </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If we do it, so will our enemy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Consistency Argument </li></ul><ul><ul><li>If we do it we are saying it is ok to do it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Dignity Argument </li></ul><ul><ul><li>We lose the moral advantage </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>John McCain’s argument </li></ul></ul></ul>