[Answered] How do the Geneva Conventions guidelines during wartime protect vulnerable sections of society during wartime?

The Geneva Convention guidelines of 1949 comprise four treaties and three additional protocols that define the standards of international law for humanitarian treatment in war. The convention mandates the parties to the war to remain humane to non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel, as well as to combatants who are no longer participating in hostilities, like shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war, or other detainees.

Geneva Conventions Guidelines during Wartime:

  1. The first Geneva Convention protects wounded and sick soldiers on land during the war, religious personnel, medical units, and medical transport.
  2. The second Geneva Convention protects wounded, sick, and shipwrecked military personnel at sea during the war, including hospital ships.
  3. The third Geneva Convention gives general protection to prisoners of war.
  4. The fourth Geneva Convention affords protection to civilians, including in occupied territory.
  5. There are 3 additional protocols to the Geneva Convention.
    • Protocol-I of 1977 provides for the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts. It expands protection for the civilian, military, and civilian medical workers.
    • Protocol-II of 1977 deals with the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts. This involves the protection of victims caught up in high-intensity internal conflicts such as civil wars.
    • Protocol-III of 2005 is about the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem, of the Red Crystal, in addition to the Red Cross and Red Crescent. It may be used under circumstances where another emblem could be perceived as having religious, cultural, or political connotations.

In case of a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions or war crime also includes actions such as attacking or bombarding towns, villages, dwellings or buildings which are undefended and which are not military objectives.

However, the Conventions and their Additional Protocols have been violated several times in Syria, Libya, Yemen, Palestine, Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo or South Sudan although all countries are signatories to the Geneva Conventions. But there are numerous examples in which these conventions have helped in avoiding potential conflicts e.g. Indian Air Force fighter pilot Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was freed by Pakistan, two days after his MiG-21 fighter jet came down in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). Thus, abiding by the Geneva Conventions and protocols is important for the sake of peace and humanity as well as protection of vulnerable sections.

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