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Are the Geneva Conventions still working?

August 12th, 2009
09:40 AM ET

Sixty years after they were signed, are the Geneva Conventions still working?
Sixty years ago, the world's leading nations signed the Geneva Conventions, agreeing the "rules of war" - the conduct of armed forces and the protection of non-combatants in conflict zones.  The conventions also formalised the role of the International Red Cross as a neutral presence able to monitor the treatment of captured and wounded combatants and civilians on both sides of front lines.  On tonight's show we'll take you back to the original signing, introduce you to Dr. Alberto Cairo of the Red Cross, who has treated over 90,000 Afgan amputees (click here for more on his work), and ask an international director of the Red Cross whether the Geneva Conventions need to be updated for the 21st Century and the war on terror.  We want to hear your thoughts - leave a comment below and vote in our poll. To read more on this story, click here.

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  1. Tito Cancio

    As shown in the recent hostage-taking by the al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf of three ICRC workers in the Philippines, international conventions protecting the neutrality of the Red Cross have been disregarded and violated with impunity by the very group that would have benefited from the humanitarian services the ICRC is mandated to render.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:20 am | Reply
  2. jeff lunday

    I am a doctor serving with the US military in Iraq.I expect no protection from the conventions whatsoever.The warring parties must sign on and abide by the conventions.The conventions are a monument to nobility and civility followed only by the US and her allies.

    August 12, 2009 at 11:49 am | Reply
  3. Yavor

    I havent enough information for this convention. Maibe not perfect but so many years this convention save the peace. This is enough to know that any changes can be a problem. I know that havent perfect law and any people can be put on one side to other side only to have result for self. time changed but people and problems is stay without changes. Sometimes if we see in past can be see answer of many futures problems.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:41 pm | Reply
  4. Muthyavan.

    Geneva conventions rules are not fully accepted in many conflicts today around the world. It should be fully implemented by all parties in any conflict an international court should be set up in agreement with all world nations to monitor the implementations of the rules of war mentioned in the Geneva conventions. Specially medical personnel's serving in the conflict areas caring for war wounded,sick and elderly should be treated fairly and safe passage to conflict areas should be guaranteed by both parties.

    August 13, 2009 at 1:23 am | Reply
  5. Yavor

    I read part of text on this convention and i think that this convention is make on people on honor. People who want to change it not think good for world.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:49 am | Reply
  6. Ken Gourley

    The "GENEVA CONVENTIONS" are the only thing that determines the good and bad effectively. "OBAMA THE COWARD" was elected to return the country to rule by law (which means the "GENEVA CONVENTIONS') and the constitution, no sign as yet, never will it happen! He is a war criminal by those definitions, and a coward that deceived the nation in order to get elected. He is a coward and a war criminal as well as being a liar!

    August 18, 2009 at 4:55 am | Reply
  7. haif ghanim

    I think U.S destroy the Geneva by there conduct in Abu Graib and Guantanmo.

    August 19, 2009 at 8:38 pm | Reply
  8. Omar Haleem

    What conventions?..take a poll of todays youth and majority will think it a rave scene. We need a newer and more powerful convention, redefine the participants both combatants and aid organizations as well as providng comprehensive protection and rights for a 'free' media,.There are many confict zones, a seperate independant 'google map' of all such conflict zones cetified by the internatinal community should be available for public viewing and these new conventions should be monitored stringently by all the nations of the world who need to be signatories of the new convention and have it promulgate it in their respective country's constitution, They should; alongwith prisoner combatants, redefine key humaitarian aid workrs as well as a free media, immunity needs to be given to all journalists reporting in these new conflict zones. Just like that sudanese lady who because of her job at the UN was granted immunity, this convention should have separate functions for implementing, monitoring and have their own independant international courts for ettling issues relating to deaths in custody, torture,and arrests of diplomats , aid workers and journalsts,where third party mediation can be acquired.
    The world is changing rapidly andmost of these so called conventions are outdated and need to be totally overhauled to reflect the harsh reality on the ground.

    August 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Reply
  9. D.Voois

    Als het er werkelyk op aan komt wat word er dan nageleefd van dit verdrag in al de oorlogen die gewoed hebben en nu nog gaande zyn wie kan nagaan wat er word nageleefd en wie kan er iets tegen doen als het verdrag word geschonden alleen als een conflict voorby is kan men de schuldigen veroordelen in elke oorlog worden alle verdragen geschonden dus toch goed dat dit verdrag er is en misschien wel aangepast moet worden aan deze tyd

    August 23, 2009 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  10. T2

    I believe the conventions were written in good faith. Just like every other "agreement" or "law" it is twisted and turned for one's benefit. Just because someone can classify a prisoner of war as "enemy combatant" and then get away with not providing this prisoner his/her rights is just a disgrace to that nation.

    I think all nations who are part of the UN should be made to follow this agreement as well as be punishable under the Internation Cour of Justice when such conventions are not followed. ICJ is very keen on punishing leaders from weaker nations. If a leader of a nation like USA or UK goes against the GC "by playing with words" then they are not punishable.

    Geneva Conventions "Thumbs up". Equality and justice for all!

    August 26, 2009 at 1:47 pm | Reply
  11. Ken Gourley

    Current rumour has it that the US is starting a formal investigation (coverup by anyother name is still-) There is no need to form new tribunals. Where the USA and OBAMA THE COWARD sincere they would hand the entire mess over to the international organization formed and endowed with the trust of the rest of the world and at one time by THE USA as the court formed for this, the ICC. forming another tribunal is a smoke screen in order to have folks believe that the US government is in some part honourable. None would believe such chicanery, however the WORLD COURT could convene and lay charges and try in absentia etc. That way even OBAMA THE COWARD could be tried with no where to run! I think that is a great IDEA!!!

    August 26, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  12. matt

    the conventions have not been working since japan was allowed to ignore its war crimes during world war 2. then you have all the little "dirty wars" and wars by proxy. the geneva convention was conceived by rational people who felt that the "little guy" in any campaign needed at least the benefit of medical treatment. militants obviously disregard the convention (especially after that technician in iraq was dragged from his car, burned and hacked to pieces, then children played with his body parts) and this has prompted all the nations to break with their long held honor system versus torture. in the us we even had to tolerate legalized torture by the neocons and the bush administration. even now there is a tremendous resistance to digging up all the abuses and clearing the air.

    August 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm | Reply

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