Wars have always been apart of our history. The aftermath of a war which includes slaughter, blood shed and destruction was personally experienced by Henri Dunant, one of the founders of Red Cross. Irreparable damages like these happen because wars do not have written and agreed upon rules. Rules of war existed within States, although very minimal, and set guidelines were not established; hence there is no way for them to be universally enforced and followed.
It was not until the Geneva and Hague Conventions that expectations of proper war conduct became clear-cut. The Geneva Convention focuses on the appropriate treatment of non-combatants during wartime while the Hague Convention deals with armaments and processes of war conduct. Although, later on the Hague Convention also tackles the same issues that the Geneva Convention have been primarily concerned with such as the protection of civilians and identification between a non-combatant and combatant in times of war.
Even though some distinct differences exist, the goal of minimizing the effects of war are both upheld by the two conventions. This objective has been somewhat successful because most countries ended up following the rules stated in both Conventions. Henry Dunant, a merchant by profession, was travelling Normandia, Italy after the battle of Solferino. He saw wounded soldiers dying on the street. He realized that something needs to be done to remedy and hopefully alleviate this kind of situation.
The idea of creating an organization that dealt with war victims crossed his mind. But in order for an organization like this to take effect and be accepted by a large number of people, fundamental laws have to be established. In 1864, the Geneva Convention laid out humanitarian laws that nations up to this day still follow. The Geneva Convention, in essence, covers the protection of victims caught in armed conflict. The protection, care and treatment of civilians extends to anyone without any biased to one’s race, religion or political beliefs.
In coordination with the International Red Cross, the statutes of the Geneva Convention becomes possible because assitance is provided to the wounded, sick and dying during armed conflict. Also, medical personnel from institutions such as the International Red Cross makes sure that dead soldiers are taken out of the battle field. On the other hand, the Hague Convention regulates war by setting limitations and prohibitions on armaments. Thus, the main objectives of the Hague Convention are
a ‘possible reduction of the excessive armaments which weigh upon all nations,’ or, at least, a discussion of the possibility of ‘putting an end to the progressive development of the present armaments. ‘… [Also, to] devise ‘the most effectual means of insuring to all peoples the benefits of a real and durable peace…. Therefore, the main focus of the Hague Convention is armaments control and use and methods of attack. It also implements the preservation of cultural properties-artifacts, literature, buildings- as well as hospitals and towns.
This ensures that people and properties that are not directly related to military objectives are safeguarded from violence and destruction. However, the issue of protecting civilians has been given considerable attention by the Hague Convention as well. This is because As technology and awareness have progressed, the conventions produced in The Hague and those coming out of Geneva have progressively overlapped: Technological developments in the realm of war tend to threaten humanitarian concerns, and humanitarian concerns tend to want to stem the progress of weapons and methods of destruction
Thus, the Hague Convention draws upon Article 21 of the Geneva Convention, which states that Convoys of vehicles or hospital trains on land or specially provided vessels on sea, conveying wounded and sick civilians, the infirm and maternity cases, shall be respected and protected Similarly, the Hague Convention also mandates the wearing of emblems by civilians and medical personnel so that they can be easily distingushed- therefore remain unharmed- from combatants.
Likewise, the Hague Convention like the Geneva Convention aims to “‘diminish the severity and disasters of war’” throught its mandates. In addition, the importance and impact of the two conventions on the international community is commendable because most countries abide by it. Wars has somewhat been lessened due to the efforts of these Conventions and the effects of war minimized because of the protection and care given to those who are not apart of the conflict but are affected by it.
Behavior in times of war should be clear and binding to countries because innocent lives can be spared. By following the rules stated in the Geneva Convention, which centers on the protection of civilians, and the Hague Convention, which lays out the guidelines to the limitation, prohibition and use of armaments, world order and peace is achievable. This illustrates that total and lasting peace in the future is not just an illusive idea.