Top 10 Warfare Practices Banned by the Geneva Convention

Bolshoy_Brat
Throughout history, the factions of war would do anything in their hands to swiftly win a battle through any means necessary. Even if it means killing and tormenting civilians and POWs for the supposed greater good of achieving their wartime aspirations. But in 1864, a convention was held by a Swiss businessman who was disgusted and frightened by the nature of war after he visited a camp that was constantly short in supplies in medicine to treat the wounded. Thus, the Red Cross was born but attempts in alleviating the burdens of war didn't stop there. Both conventions held in Hague in 1899 and 1907 proved instrumental in the development of humanitarian law, and helped raised awareness of the atrocities committed in the name of war. Today, most nations have become a signatory of the Geneva Convention that stands as a monumental achievement of the values of humanitarianism and pacifism during times of war with the rights of civilians and prisoners of war being protected under the convention. Though such nations bounded to the convention wouldn't necessarily mean they would such ideas into practice. However, there are International Criminal Courts that help deal with war criminals who have violated human rights and conducts of war, and to bring them to justice.

With 18 October just right around the corner, I felt it was right to commemorate the ratification of the Hague Convention of 1907 by making this list to raise awareness of how.

The Top Ten

1 Use of Chemical Weapons

The use of lethal chemical substances as weapons such as mustard gas, sarin, chlorine, hydrogen acid, and tear gas that are used in great effect and quantities. These can come in the form of toxic explosive projectiles like artillery shells, missiles, or mortars. Because of the harm these chemicals could pose to a person's health, these types of weapons were banned during the signing of the Chemical Warfare Convention in the 90s. Though, this doesn't stop several rogue nations to stockpile their supplies of such weapons. These types of weapons were popular in WWI, WWII, and the Iran-Iraq War. - Bolshoy_Brat

2 Scorched Earth Policy Scorched Earth Policy

It is a form of military strategy that destroys civilian infrastructures such as agricultural or industrial resources, water supplies, public transportation, and communications. Such infrastructures are obliterated so that the enemy faction wouldn't fully utilize it in future battles or to drive the population away from the area. It is done in either enemy or home territory when the enemy is either advancing or retreating. It is banned because such methods would hamper reconstruction efforts and add unnecessary suffering for the local populace. The tactic was used during Operation Barbarossa and the Napoleonic Invasion of Russia. - Bolshoy_Brat

3 Rape Rape

What? I never knew that this was part of wars. - DinoLover4242

Rape is often used as a method of psychological warfare to demoralize the enemy by asserting their dominance over their defeated opponents. It is often practiced upon civilians, often female, though there were cases of rape on captured soldiers. Isolated cases of rape and even gang rape during warfare are common such as during the Congo Wars and many conflicts throughout history. Because of wartime rape, many women gave birth to illegitimate children in which they often shame from their family or local community. Sometimes forcing them to use abortion or abandon them so that they may just get rid of the burden of having an illegitimate child to remind them of the humiliation that they experienced during rape. The Nanking Massacre was an infamous example of this. - Bolshoy_Brat

4 Human Shields Human Shields

What is meant by "Human shields" is the exploitation of civilians or captured POWs by deliberately placing them in the front lines in the enemy's line of sight. Parties of war would utilize this to protect themselves as it provides cover as well as discouraging the enemy to attack them as to avoid killing the non-combatant. It is banned under the Geneva Convention as it is deemed as immoral since it unnecessarily throws the lives of many by dubbing them as "collateral damage". The North Korean military is known of employing this tactic. - Bolshoy_Brat

5 Child Soldiers Child Soldiers

In many conflicts throughout the world, children are often vulnerable to the utter chaos of war with supplies to sustain a family becoming scarce or if their parents and guardians are killed. However, some have found use in these children by exploiting their naivety and emotions by serving in the front lines as child soldiers. These child soldiers are often considered as being a source of disposable manpower because they're often used for petty yet dangerous jobs such as clearing out land mines. However, with children serving at war, they are often exposed to the brutality that comes with war. This would mentally scar or traumatize a child and may cement a mindset depraved of moral integrity or lack of sensitivity towards violence in a child. The most notorious of the use child soldiers are the civil war in Liberia and the Iran-Iraq War. - Bolshoy_Brat

6 Killings of Medical Personnel Killings of Medical Personnel

Being a medical worker (either a military medic or a NGO) can prove to be a dangerous task to undertake in a war zone. These personnel are responsible for the treatment of injured civilians and soldiers which makes them a priority target by parties of war to disrupt efforts in aiding the injured, especially fallen enemy soldiers. Under the Geneva Convention, it is considered a war crime to kill a medical staff and they are protected under the convention. - Bolshoy_Brat

7 Killings of Prisoners of War Killings of Prisoners of War

It is unlawful for a soldier to kill an enemy soldier who has surrendered or captured as POW. Though cases of executions or ill-treatment of POW are rather common during war out of sheer revenge. According to the Geneva Convention; they are to be treated well by providing them food, running water, medical supplies, sanitation, and a settlement as temporary internment. - Bolshoy_Brat

8 Physical and Mental Torture

Torture comes in all forms with categories such as physical and mental. Be it castration, constant beatings, waterboarding, forced nudity, etc. Especially so towards POWs and civilians. The practice of torture as a way to crush the spirit of the enemy has been a widespread tactic and thus proves to be an issue when it comes to gentlemanly conduct of war. This would potentially have the effect of permanently damage a person's mental and physical health. These practices are illegal after the ratification of the United Nations Convention Against Torture. - Bolshoy_Brat

9 Summary Executions Summary Executions

Summary executions are rather common under times of national emergency or martial law where a person's constitutional rights is suspended and fall to the mercy of state authorities in order to restore order. Although, it is arguably legal when the suspect is directly endangering another person's life except when it comes to senselessly killing civilians that pose no threat to authorities.

But what is illegal under the convention is the summary execution of captured POWs. These POWs would be captured, accused, and executed in a short amount of time without having the rights to defend oneself in a trial that should've been full and fair in nature. It is often carried out by the police, military, and paramilitaries during times of guerilla warfare, counter-insurgency, and terrorism. These POWs have the right to present their cases and defend themselves in front of a military tribunal. The Geneva Convention would protect the rights of prisoners of war when it comes to summary ...more - Bolshoy_Brat

10 Aerial Bombings on a Civilian Area Aerial Bombings on a Civilian Area

A widespread practice in both World Wars, Yugoslav War and the Vietnam War that employs bomber airplanes to conduct aerial bombardments on high concentration of civilian areas. These bombings mostly targeted civilian infrastructures to disrupt economic activity but comes at the expense of the lives of non-combatants. These aerial operations must comply with these three principle of humanitarian laws of the convention: military necessity (it must be a military objective), distinction (it should separate combatants from passive civilians), and proportionality (it shouldn't be excessively intense). - Bolshoy_Brat

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