Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts (Protocol II


Protocol II, formally known as the “Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the protection of victims of non-international armed conflicts,” is an international treaty that supplements the Geneva Conventions. It was adopted on June 8, 1977, and entered into force on December 7, 1978.

Protocol II specifically addresses armed conflicts that are not of an international nature, such as civil wars, internal conflicts, or other types of non-international armed conflicts. Its primary purpose is to provide legal protection for individuals who are not taking part in the hostilities and who have become victims of such conflicts.

Key provisions of Protocol II include:

  1. Fundamental guarantees: The protocol guarantees respect for the inherent dignity and rights of persons affected by non-international armed conflicts, including the right to life, humane treatment, and prohibition of torture, cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment.
  2. Non-discrimination: The protocol prohibits any adverse distinction based on race, color, religion, sex, birth, or any other similar criteria. It ensures equal treatment and protection for all individuals affected by non-international armed conflicts.
  3. Protection of civilians: The protocol emphasizes the protection of civilians from the effects of hostilities and prohibits attacks against civilian populations or individual civilians who are not taking direct part in hostilities.
  4. Humanitarian assistance: It recognizes the right of humanitarian organizations to offer their services for the benefit of the affected population and encourages parties to the conflict to allow the free passage of humanitarian aid.
  5. Treatment of detainees: The protocol establishes standards for the treatment of detainees and prohibits cruel treatment, torture, or any form of inhumane treatment or punishment.
  6. Medical and religious personnel: It safeguards the protection and respect of medical and religious personnel engaged in providing care and assistance to the wounded, sick, and civilians affected by the conflict.

Protocol II also contains provisions related to the use of emblems, the establishment of protected zones and safety zones, and the prohibition of certain methods and means of warfare that may cause excessive harm to the civilian population or the natural environment.

It is important to note that not all countries have ratified or acceded to Protocol II. However, its principles reflect customary international humanitarian law and are considered binding on all parties to non-international armed conflicts, regardless of their ratification status.

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