The Geneva Conventions on Monday achieved their 70th anniversary since they were universally agreed upon regarding humanitarian law and moral and ethical behavior during armed conflicts.

The famous water fountain Le Jet d'Eau is illuminated in the color red on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions with the moon seen in the background, in Geneva, Switzerland, 12 August 2019. [Photo: EPA via IC/SALVATORE DI NOLFI]

The famous water fountain Le Jet d’Eau is illuminated in the color red on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions with the moon seen in the background, in Geneva, Switzerland, 12 August 2019. [Photo: EPA via IC/SALVATORE DI NOLFI]

“Seventy years ago today, on August 12, 1949, the Geneva Conventions were adopted in Geneva,” in the aftermath of World War II, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on its website.

Since then, the conventions have formed the cornerstone of international humanitarian law and been pivotal for the protection of people affected by armed conflicts worldwide.

ICRC President Peter Maurer said: “The world has universally agreed that even in times of war, humanity must prevail.”

“It is absolute truth that we would be worse off without the Geneva Conventions. But they need better support, more powerful advocates and a spirit of innovation to charter new ways to protect people in today’s rapidly changing world.”

The Geneva Conventions embody a pragmatic balance between military necessity and humanitarian considerations, according to the ICRC.

“Enemies must see each other as human beings. Our collective challenge today is to find ways to ensure greater respect within the changing dynamics of conflict,” said the ICRC.

Helen Durham, Director of International Law and Policy at the ICRC, said last week that the Geneva Conventions stand for the idea that even wars have limits.

“The rules they contain deal with issues such as the treatment of wounded and sick, the prohibition of torture, the right for families to know the fate of their missing relatives and the requirement to treat prisoners of war humanely,” she said.

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, and aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops and prisoners of war).

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