The rules of war have changed dale robinson gas outage


August 22. Unless it is your birthday or some other personal date to remember, most people cannot come up with anything especially notable about it, but on this day in 1864, an event took place that still affects the military forces of every nation in the world. August 22, 1864, was the day 12 nations signed the First Geneva Convention, and as a group, defined the rules of humanitarian treatment of those combatants on the battlefield who are sick or wounded. More conventions would follow through the years.

The Second Geneva Convention in 1906 added to the terms of the first in that the battlefield was expanded to include members of the armed forces at sea who are wounded, sick or shipwrecked. There were no conventions through the WWI years, but these were learning years in the age of modern warfare. In 1929, the Third Geneva Convention was held and the issue of prisoners of war was addressed and a plan for their humane treatment was signed.

The Fourth Geneva Convention was held in 1949. WWII had been the largest conflict in the history of the world, and the line between civilians and combatants was more than a little fuzzy then because of the scale of the combat arena. The goal of this convention was to provide for the “Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War.” It was adopted, and remains the last of the conventions to date.

In addition to the conventions, there have also been protocols, which amount to modifications to the terms of the adopted conventions. Protocols I and II were passed in 1977 and related to the “Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts” and “Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts.” Protocol III related to the adoption of an additional “distinctive emblem.” The terms of use of the conventions are determined by Common Articles which define actions to be in place for armed conflict when one or more of the warring nations have ratified the conventions. Whether the conflict is a declared war or police action, a signatory nation is held accountable to the terms of the conventions. There are presently 194 parties who have ratified the 1949 convention, and others who have signed but not ratified, and some who have taken no action.

The conventions have changed the face of war for many years since the first was adopted. Countless lives have been saved by the terms imposed to those who ratified and followed their doctrines. It is time to come to the realization that all good things have flaws. The United Nations Organization is charged with the monitoring and enforcement of the terms of the agreements made. It is an unfortunate reality that the U.N. is not up to the task in today’s world. All the proof needed is in the news reports from the Middle East that are presently burning up the airwaves. Syria’s leader, Assad has been charged with the use of poison gas in his country and on citizens of Syria. Video proof of the use and results has been shown around the world. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said Tuesday he was outraged by the reported attack, and that the use of chemical weapons would be a violation of international law. He also reaffirmed his support for an OPCW investigation. That’s correct. In a time of civilians being killed and maimed by a weapon of mass destruction that has been outlawed by the U.N. for years, the people of Syria are waiting on an investigation.

Three countries, the U.S., the U.K. and France have banded together and made the decision to use military force on the sources of the poison gas in Syria. Attacks have been successfully completed, and the statement by the “good guys” has been made. It is now a wait-and-see situation with Syria and its big supporter Russia to make the next move. To complicate the matters, all the countries involved are members in the U.N. and have either signed the necessary protocols or have signed and ratified them to prevent the very actions over the past weeks.