Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 1987 
Field of application
[p.809] Article 68 -- Field of application

2775 This article determines the personal field of application of Section II which applies "to the civilian population as defined in this Protocol". The civilian population is defined in Article 50 ' (Definition of civilians and civilian population), ' paragraph 2, as comprising "all persons who are civilians". As regards civilians, they are defined in Article 50 ' (Definition of civilians and civilian population), ' paragraph 1, as "any person who does not belong to one of the categories of [p.810] persons referred to in Article 4A (1), (2), (3) and (6) of the Third Convention and in Article 43 of this Protocol". (1)

2776 Moreover, it specifies that the provisions of this Section "are supplementary to" the relevant provisions of the fourth Convention. As the provisions of the Protocol contain not only a reaffirmation of some rules, but also a development, it is clear that for the Parties to the Protocol the provisions of the Conventions should be read together with the supplementary provisions of Protocol I. This applies, for instance, to the obligations of the Occupying Power to ensure the necessary supplies for the civilian population of the occupied territory, obligations which are augmented in Article 69 ' (Basic needs in occupied territories). ' The same also applies to the fact that relief actions for the benefit of a Party to the conflict can be provided for the civilian population as a whole, and not only certain categories. This is important, as under the régime of the Conventions, an action for the benefit of a Party to the conflict which is not limited to the prescribed categories could have been challenged by the adverse Party. Moreover, if the relief came by sea, it could have been included in actions impeded by a blockade, or could have been treated as contraband. (2)

2777 Article 68 mentions the most important provisions of the fourth Convention to be supplemented by this Section. These are Article 23 , which deals with the consignment of medical stores, foodstuffs and clothing to a Party to a conflict; Article 55 , which establishes the duty of the Occupying Power to ensure the food and medical supplies of the population of the occupied territory; Article 59 , which deals with relief schemes on behalf of the population of the occupied territory; Article 60 , which is a reminder that relief consignments to a territory shall in no way relieve the Occupying Power of any of its responsibilities towards the civilian population, and which prohibits the diversion of such relief consignments; Article 61 , which deals with the distribution of relief consignments; and Article 62 , which in principle grants the civilian population in occupied territory, and other protected persons in occupied territories the right to receive individual relief consignments sent to them.

2778 These are the most important articles supplemented by this Section, but there are other articles in the fourth Convention which are affected to a greater or lesser extent, and Article 68 clearly shows that the enumeration is not exhaustive by stating that the Section also supplements the "other relevant provisions of the fourth Convention". On the other hand, the Diplomatic Conference refrained from specifying -- as in the 1973 draft -- that this Section is complementary "to such international rules concerning relief as may be binding upon the High Contracting Parties". It went along with the opinion of one delegate who considered that this was "somewhat vaguely worded", and who consequently requested that only the relevant provisions of the fourth Convention be mentioned. (3)

' Y.S. '


(1) [(1) p.810] For further details on this subject, cf. commentary Art. 50, supra, p. 609;

(2) [(2) p.810] On this subject, cf., in particular, K.J. Skubiszewski, "Use of Force by States", in M. Sorensen (ed.), ' Manual of Public International Law ', New York, 1968, pp. 836-839; cf. also commentary Art. 54, supra, p. 651, and commentary Art. 14, Protocol II, infra, p. 1455;

(3) [(3) p.810] Cf. O.R. XII, p. 315, CDDH/II/SR.84, paras. 24-25;