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Geneva Conventions

Geneva Conventions, series of treaties signed (1864–1949) in Geneva, Switzerland, providing for humane treatment of combatants and civilians in wartime. The first convention, signed by 16 nations, covered the protection of sick and wounded soldiers and medical personnel and facilities, and was instrumental in the development of the International Committee of the Red Cross. Later conventions extended (1906) the first to naval warfare and covered (1929) the treatment of prisoners of war. As a result of World War II, particularly of the conduct of Germany and Japan, four conventions were adopted in 1949 to strengthen and codify earlier treaties and safeguard civilians.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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