This map layer presents a timeline showing the years in which individual countries ratified the Geneva Conventions.
The Geneva Conventions form a core component of international humanitarian law. They set out internationally binding rules for the treatment of prisoners of war (Geneva Convention III), sick and wounded members of armed forces (Geneva Convention I and II) and civilians (Geneva Convention IV) in time of war.
The first part of the Geneva Conventions was drawn up as early as 1864 and extended in scope in 1929. After a general revision in 1949, the conventions entered into force in 1950. Amendments were made in 1977 and 2005, integrating protocols into the conventions that required a new round of ratifications. As a result, the individual conventions and their “Additional Protocols” have been ratified at different times by different numbers of states. The only body overseeing the Geneva Conventions is the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). Any violations of the provisions of the Conventions and their Additional Protocols can be investigated by the International Humanitarian Fact-Finding Commission, an ICRC body constituted in 1991. It is not, however, endowed with sovereign powers. The conventions themselves do not lay down sanctions to be imposed in cases of infringement. Penalties must, therefore, be enforced either under the domestic laws of signatory states (in Germany, the Code on International Criminal Law (VStGB) has been the applicable instrument since 2002) or, in certain cases, by the International Criminal Court in The Hague, which can prosecute serious violations of the Geneva Conventions.