Lined up helmets and protective vests of our paramedic team in Hawijah, Iraq 2017.
With or without Geneva Convention - working in the war zone always requires personal protective equipment. Just like for our team in Hawijah in Iraq 2017. ©Anna-Lena Scharenberg

70 years Geneva Convention - an anniversary with a smack

The Geneva Conventions celebrate 70th anniversary. Increasingly the four agreements, which can´t be overestimated in their significance, are losing importance.

The four Geneva agreements of 1949 are now seventy years old. Under the impressions of World War II, especially rules for the protection of civilians were laid down here. Still a milestone and the foundation for humanitarian action today, which has certainly often prevented worse.

Nevertheless, many questions remain: to what extent can rules and humanity be implemented in a war at all? How can compliance with the Convention be effectively controlled and violations sanctioned? Do the regulations of the four agreements even correspond to the reality of modern warfare?

Geneva convention in danger

There is no doubt that the Geneva Convention is under great pressure. The erosion of the agreements as part of the fight against terror, asymmetric wars and civil wars is clearly noticeable. It is not just terrorist organizations that see the red cross or the red crescent as a target rather than as an international symbol of protection. Syria, Yemen, Iraq - Hospitals and transports of injured are being targeted by state forces around the globe.

It is therefore all the more important to document these incidents and to hold those responsible to account. The Geneva Convention must be preserved as an institution on which people around the world can rely, knowing that it will be implemented. We can not even think of extending the conventions in these days; sadly there is a great danger that existing regulations will be flouted and watered down.

The strict implementation of the Geneva Convention and the consistent punishment of violations would probably be the most beautiful gifts you could wish for on this 70th anniversary.

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