Today in World History: August 22nd

The Geneva Convention, which detailed the protocol for humanitarian concerns for war such as the treatment of sick or injured soldiers and civilians, was signed by twelve nations on this day in 1861. Baden, Prussia, Hesse, Württemberg, all now parts of Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Denmark, and Switzerland convened in Geneva to create a set of guidelines to ensure proper humanitarian treatment during wars. Following the experiences of activist Henry Dunant in a wounded soldiers’ camp, he proposed the idea of better treatment for wounded civilians and soldiers, which led to the creation of the Red Cross in Geneva. This organization led to the creation of the Geneva Protocols, which after the first twelve nations, began to be ratified in other nations, with Norway-Sweden signing it in December of the same year, and has now been ratified by all U.N. member nations, along with the Vatican, Palestine, and the Cook Islands. The Protocols have been updated three times after the Geneva Convention, after the Russo-Japanese War, in 1926, and the most recent being in 1949, after World War Two. They deal with handling of marine troops, prisoners of war, and the protection of civilians in a war zones, respectively. The Geneva Conventions have helped keep countless lives safe and protected, and are recognized by all world-recognized nations.

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