Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2016 
Article 25 : Protection of auxiliary personnel
Text of the provision
Members of the armed forces specially trained for employment, should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers, in the search for or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded and sick shall likewise be respected and protected if they are carrying out these duties at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
2011  Article 25 regulates a distinct category of persons who, as members of the armed forces, are entitled to be ‘respected and protected’ under certain conditions. While the term does not appear as such in the First Convention, these persons are traditionally referred to as ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ or simply ‘auxiliary personnel’. Unlike the permanent medical personnel covered by Article 24, auxiliary medical personnel are only employed on medical duties for part of the time. For the remainder of their time they will be assigned to duties as combatants, in which case they are to be treated as such. Auxiliary medical personnel are distinct from permanent medical personnel; therefore, their status when they fall into enemy hands and their means of identification are regulated in provisions separate from those regulating the same issues for permanent personnel.[1]
2012  The possibility created by Article 25 is appealing for a number of reasons. From the perspective of the armed forces, the use of auxiliary personnel enables the pool of permanent medical personnel to be supplemented in a flexible and possibly cost-efficient manner. Moreover, since auxiliary medical personnel are likely to be in even closer proximity to combatants than permanent medical personnel, they may be more effective in carrying out, for example, the obligations contained in Article 15(1).
2013  From the perspective of the wounded and sick in the field, the presence of auxiliary personnel (drawn from among their units) enhances their chances of receiving swift access to medical care, i.e. immediate attention on the battlefield, followed by rapid transport to a health-care facility. Indeed, depending on the type of injury sustained, such care will be much more effective, even life-saving, if it can be administered within what is often referred to as the critical ‘ten platinum minutes’ or, in certain cases, as the ‘golden hour’. Auxiliary medical personnel may be uniquely placed to administer first aid within the first ten minutes, and may subsequently be able to transport the casualty to a medical unit within the next hour.
2014  The situation of auxiliary personnel is dynamic in nature, in that the applicable regime can change: they are protected as medical personnel if they are carrying out the duties referred to in Article 25 at the time they come into contact with the enemy, but revert to combatant status whenever they are not carrying out these duties. When they fall into enemy hands, they revert in any event to their initial status as combatants and as such are entitled to prisoner-of-war status (see Article 29) and not to the retention regime governing personnel designated in Articles 24 and 26 (see Article 28). Thus, protection on the basis of Article 25 is conduct-based, as opposed to the protection of Articles 24 and 26, which is status-based.[2]
2015  Both in the past and nowadays, it seems that very few armed forces actually make use of the possibility created by Article 25.[3] Certainly, in a good number of them, some or even a significant share of combatants (sometimes referred to as ‘combat lifesavers’) are trained to perform medical tasks on the battlefield.[4] However, they do not claim these combatants to be covered by Article 25, and do not give them the specific means of identification provided for in Article 41. As a result, ‘combat lifesavers’ are not entitled to the protection conferred by Article 25: they remain combatants even when they perform medical tasks.
2016  Of further relevance, Article 8(k) of Additional Protocol I has created the category of ‘temporary medical personnel’, defined as persons ‘devoted exclusively to medical purposes for limited periods during the whole of such periods’. While members of the armed forces covered by Article 25 qualify as ‘temporary medical personnel’ in the sense of Article 8(k), the latter category is broader. Members of the armed forces who qualify as ‘temporary medical personnel’ are protected on the basis of Additional Protocol I even when they do not fulfil the conditions of Article 25. As a result, States have an alternative way of ensuring that auxiliary medical personnel are protected without having to meet the strictures of Article 25. At the same time, nothing prevents States, in the future, from resorting to Article 25.[5]
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B. Historical background
2017  During the 1906 Diplomatic Conference, it was considered ‘unreasonable’ to grant protection to auxiliary medical personnel, and this in view of their being combatants when their medical skills were not required.[6] What was eventually to become Article 9(2) of the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick (the direct precursor of Article 25) arose from a proposal submitted by the US delegation during the 1929 Diplomatic Conference.[7] The proposal initially met with criticism: given the hybrid nature of auxiliary medical personnel, some delegations feared that the concept would create difficulties and controversies in practice.[8] In the end, however, the proposal was accepted since it was felt to provide protection to a category of persons that already existed in the practice of certain States, e.g. members of the armed forces who are musicians and who have also been trained to perform certain medical tasks.[9] Thus, unlike permanent medical personnel, who had to be ‘exclusively’ engaged in one or more of a series of enumerated activities of a medical nature, auxiliary medical personnel did not have to be so exclusively engaged.
2018  The status of auxiliary medical personnel, as regulated in the 1929 Geneva Convention, was markedly different from their status under the 1949 Geneva Convention. Under the 1929 regime, auxiliary medical personnel were entitled to the same treatment as permanent medical personnel if they fell into enemy hands,[10] but they did not explicitly enjoy any form of specific protection on the battlefield. [11] The First Convention of 1949 has inverted this logic. As a result, the current regime provides for an entitlement to be ‘respected and protected’ when auxiliary medical personnel perform certain medical duties on the battlefield, but does not provide for coverage by the retention regime if they fall into enemy hands.
2019  Both during the 1946 Preliminary Conference of National Societies[12] and during the 1947 Conference of Government Experts,[13] proposals were made to delete this separate category of auxiliary medical personnel. The 1947 Conference of Government Experts advanced three arguments to support the deletion of Article 9(2) of the 1929 Convention: (i) the difficulty of providing them with identification certificates; (ii) the fact that many combatants were trained to provide medical care; and (iii) ‘most importantly’, that when prisoners are taken in large numbers, it is impossible to know who among the combatants was engaged in medical activities.[14] In the drafts both submitted to and adopted by the 1948 International Conference of the Red Cross in Stockholm, Article 9(2) of the 1929 Convention remained deleted.[15]
2020  During the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, it remained an issue of controversy whether the First Convention should retain this separate category. The main concern – raised by those who wished to abolish this category – was that it was prone to abuse. For example, a combatant might falsely claim to have been active in a medical capacity at the moment of capture. Another concern was that, when a large number of enemy combatants were captured at once, it would be difficult to know who was actually engaged in medical activities at that time. These concerns were, of course, fuelled by the fact that the 1929 Convention foresaw an entitlement to privileged treatment – identical to the one for permanent medical personnel – when they fell into enemy hands.
2021  In the end, the category of auxiliary medical personnel was maintained in the First Convention based on the consideration that the activities mentioned in Article 25 could meet a definite humanitarian need: their proximity to the wounded and sick, who might have been fellow combatants up until minutes before, would enable auxiliary medical personnel to carry out certain, well-defined medical tasks, such as the swift removal of the wounded from the battlefield.[16]
2022  The concern that combatants might be tempted to claim the status of auxiliary medical personnel once they fall into enemy hands is fully addressed in the new regime: the treatment to which they are entitled in enemy hands is the one applicable to combatants, and not the one for permanent medical personnel (see Article 29). This is in line with the purpose of the protection of medical personnel under the Geneva Conventions, namely to allow adequate medical care of the wounded and sick.
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C. Discussion
1. Persons covered
2023  Persons covered by Article 25 are combatants who are temporarily, and functionally, protected as medical personnel.
2024  The category of ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ can only consist of certain members of the armed forces. It does not apply to staff of National Red Cross or Red Crescent Societies or of other voluntary aid societies.[17] In this respect, the term ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ is not to be confused with the role of National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies as auxiliaries to the public authorities in the humanitarian field.[18]
2025  Article 25, together with the related provisions of Articles 29 and 41, most naturally applies to land-based units of the armed forces. But its scope of application is not confined to these: auxiliary medical personnel may also be on board medical aircraft, and their status will be regulated by Article 29 if they fall into enemy hands.[19]
2026  The fact that they are and remain combatants when not carrying out their duties, as well as the fact that they do not become members of the medical service of the armed forces, can be derived not only from Article 29, but also a contrario from Article 43(2) of Additional Protocol I: ‘Members of the armed forces of a Party to a conflict (other than medical personnel and chaplains covered by Article 33 of the Third Convention) are combatants, that is to say, they have the right to participate directly in hostilities.’ Since persons covered by Article 25 of the First Convention are not covered by Article 33 of the Third Convention, their status remains one of combatants, whose entitlement to participate directly in hostilities becomes temporarily suspended: once they commit an ‘act harmful to the enemy’, they lose their protection.[20]
2027  The medical functions in which auxiliary medical personnel are allowed to participate are restricted to just three: hospital orderly, nurse or auxiliary stretcher-bearer.[21] This list is exhaustive. Thus, it is much narrower than the list of activities provided for under Article 24. Surgeons, for example, or staff engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments would not fall within the scope of application of Article 25. Therefore, under the First Convention, such persons cannot perform their activities on a temporary basis.[22]
2028  Conversely, the fact that a member of the armed forces serves in one of the functions set out in Article 25 does not necessarily mean that he or she will be covered by that provision. If the respective conditions of Article 24 of the First Convention are fulfilled, coverage under that provision is equally possible: all three categories covered by Article 25 also come within the scope of application of Article 24. The choice of whether a person will be governed by Article 24 or by Article 25 is to be made by the national authorities, who must designate the person on this basis, and will be reflected in the means of identification provided (see Articles 40 and 41).[23] When they fall into enemy hands, permanent medical personnel covered by Article 24 would be governed by the ‘retention’ regime provided for in Articles 28, 30 and 31 of the First Convention (along with Article 33 of the Third Convention), while auxiliary medical personnel covered by Article 25 would be governed by the regime provided for in Article 29.
2029  As to the meaning of the three functions referred to in Article 25, it is immaterial whether the terms ‘hospital orderly’, ‘nurse’ or ‘auxiliary stretcher-bearer’ are actually used under domestic law (such as in internal administrative regulations). The term ‘orderly’, in this context, is defined as ‘an attendant in a hospital responsible for cleaning and other non-medical tasks’.[24] The term ‘stretcher-bearer’ refers to a person who carries ‘sick, injured, or dead people lying down’ on a stretcher.[25] In practice, what matters in this respect is the activity performed (i.e. the conveyance of such persons) rather than whether it involves the carrying of a stretcher. Thus, for example, a person aboard a medical aircraft who operates the rescue harness can qualify as auxiliary personnel (provided all other conditions of Article 25 are met).
2030  In terms of the activities that can be performed by ‘hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers’, the four listed in Article 25 (‘the search for or the collection, transport or treatment of the wounded and sick’) also appear in Article 24, and need to be interpreted identically.[26] As was the case with Article 24, the deliberately disjunctive nature of the list (by the use of ‘or’) allows for the same person to be engaged in more than one of the said activities.[27]
2031  At the same time, however, there are three differences between Articles 24 and 25 in terms of the activities that can be performed by persons covered by either provision. First, ‘prevention of disease’ is mentioned only in Article 24.[28] Second, staff engaged in the administration of medical units and establishments cannot function on the basis of Article 25. And lastly, military religious personnel (referred to as ‘chaplains attached to the armed forces’ in Article 24) cannot function on the basis of Article 25 either. Additional Protocol I takes a different approach in this regard by allowing both medical and religious personnel to carry out their duties on a temporary basis.[29]
2032  As mentioned earlier, the term ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ does not appear as such in the First Convention but has traditionally been used to refer to persons covered by Article 25. This term may convey the wrong impression. While the word ‘auxiliary’ is suggestive of a support or subsidiary role, the activities performed by ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ may be anything but: in some cases they can be life-saving. In the context of Article 25, the word ‘auxiliary’ refers to the place of the person vis-à-vis the (permanent) medical service, not to the nature (nor the effect) of the activities performed.
2033  An essential precondition for auxiliary medical personnel to be covered by Article 25 is that they be ‘specially trained for employment, should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers’.[30] It is left to the national authorities to decide on the content and length of the training. It does not have to be conducted by the armed forces themselves, i.e. qualifications obtained outside the armed forces may suffice. Nor does the training need to have taken place prior to the outbreak of the armed conflict: one reason for the usefulness of Article 25 is the possibility of training combatants for particular medical functions in response to needs as they arise during the armed conflict, for example to make up for a shortage of medical personnel.
2034  However, the training must result in a certain level of skill and specialization. It needs to render the person qualified to perform the tasks required of ‘hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers’. Thus, basic first-aid training, which most combatants receive as part of their regular training, will not necessarily suffice.[31]
2035  Furthermore, the mere fact of being ‘specially trained for employment, should the need arise, as hospital orderlies, nurses or auxiliary stretcher-bearers’ does not necessarily nor automatically mean that persons will be covered by Article 25: they must be so designated on the basis of Article 25.[32] No member of the armed forces will be covered by Article 25 merely based on a willingness to act in an ‘auxiliary medical’ capacity. In practice, certain armed forces train some combatants as ‘combat lifesavers’ without claiming that these persons would be covered by Article 25. Therefore, these armed forces do not give these persons the means of identification provided for in Article 41.
2036  Further, should a commander decide to assign a combatant who has not received the requisite training to look after a fallen comrade, that person would not be covered by Article 25. Likewise, a combatant not designated as ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ on the basis of Article 25 who spontaneously assists a fallen comrade is acting at his or her own risk. While it is hoped that the enemy, out of goodwill and prompted by humanitarian considerations, would refrain from attacking such a person, he or she is not entitled to any specific protection.
2037  The beneficiaries of the medical activities performed by auxiliary personnel are the ‘wounded and sick’. Within the context of the First Convention, the concept of ‘wounded and sick’ has to be understood in its technical sense, i.e. as referring to the wounded and sick belonging to the categories identified in Articles 12 and 13. However, the fact that auxiliary medical personnel extend their activities to civilian wounded and sick does not deprive them of their entitlement to be respected and protected.[33]
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2. Scope of protection
2038  Auxiliary personnel must be respected and protected if they are carrying out their medical duties ‘at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands’. Hence, they are not entitled to the protection of Article 25 if this occurs when they are not carrying out their medical duties.[34]
2039  The meaning of the notion of ‘fall into [enemy] hands’ is dealt with in the commentary on Article 14, section C.3. As to the notion of ‘come into contact with the enemy’, no physical or otherwise direct contact is required. From the moment the enemy identifies a person as being entitled to the protection of Article 25, they ‘come into contact’.
2040  The notions of respect and protection are to be understood in the same way as in Article 24 (as indicated by the term ‘likewise’). This applicability mutatis mutandis means that persons covered by Article 25 are – for as long as they are carrying out their medical duties – one of the categories of persons protected under the First Convention. As a result, reprisals against them are prohibited.[35] When acts referred to in Article 50 are committed against persons covered by Article 25, they would be considered grave breaches. Further, attacks intentionally directed against auxiliary medical personnel may qualify as a war crime under the 1998 ICC Statute.[36] In addition, the conditions and restrictions under which permanent medical personnel may carry arms, and use them, apply mutatis mutandis to auxiliary personnel.[37] Lastly, where that provision applies (either as a matter of treaty law or of customary law), persons covered by Article 25 are entitled to the ‘general protection of medical duties’ provided for in Article 16 of Additional Protocol I, this provision being applicable to any ‘person engaged in medical activities’.
2041  Conversely, the entitlement to be ‘respected and protected’ entails the similar applicability of the conditions under which that entitlement may be lost.[38] In this regard, the hybrid nature of auxiliary medical personnel is somewhat sensitive. In particular, the fact that they may switch from the role of, for example, a nurse temporarily protected under Article 25 to that of combatant may engender distrust.[39] The particular feature of Article 25 is that it obliges a Party to the conflict to ‘respect and protect’ members of the enemy’s armed forces who may have been in active combat just before they start carrying out their duties as auxiliary medical personnel and who may resume combat activity the next day, or even some hours later. In order to maintain the integrity of, and trust in, the system, it is advisable that combatants designated as auxiliary medical personnel do not switch status repeatedly, for example within the same day.
2042  Given the sensitive nature of the role of auxiliary medical personnel, a State deploying persons on the basis of Article 25 must make them aware of the need to refrain scrupulously, while fulfilling that role, from any act which may be perceived as ‘harmful to the enemy’.[40] The prohibition of perfidy is particularly pertinent in this context, especially since auxiliary personnel may, albeit under certain restrictions, be armed.[41]
2043  The system has a built-in corrective in this regard: protection on the basis of Article 25 is limited ratione temporis to those points in time when ‘they are carrying out’ their medical duties. In this respect, Article 25 differs markedly from Article 24, where the entitlement to be ‘respected and protected’ exists ‘in all circumstances’.
2044  Absent from Article 25 is the ‘exclusivity’ requirement which appears in Article 24.[42] However, logic dictates that, for as long as auxiliary personnel are carrying out their duties of a medical nature, they must comply with this requirement mutatis mutandis. Persons covered by Article 25 can be considered as one of the categories of persons included in the notion of ‘temporary medical personnel’ in the sense of Article 8(k) of Additional Protocol I. Thus, they can only expect to be ‘respected and protected’ on the battlefield if they are ‘devoted exclusively to medical purposes for limited periods during the whole of such periods’. In real-life battlefield situations, it is hoped that the requirement to respect and protect auxiliary medical personnel only when ‘they are carrying out these duties at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands’ will be interpreted in good faith, on the one hand, and that auxiliary personnel will act in compliance with the constraints flowing from this provision, on the other hand.
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Select bibliography
See the select bibliography of the commentary on Article 24 of the First Convention.

1 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, pp. 120–122 and 194. For when persons covered by Article 24 fall into enemy hands, see Articles 28, 30 and 31 of the First Convention (as well as Article 33 of the Third Convention). For means of identification for persons covered by Article 24, see Article 40 of the First Convention.
2 - See the commentary on Article 24, para. 1978 and the commentary on Article 26, para. 2073.
3 - See also Pictet (ed.), Commentary on the First Geneva Convention, ICRC, 1952, p. 221: this category ‘has not up to the present been very numerous in practice’.
4 - Geoffrey S. Corn et al., The Law of Armed Conflict: An Operational Approach, Wolters Kluwer Law & Business, New York, 2012, pp. 255–256.
5 - See United States, Law of War Manual, 2015, para. 4.13.1; see also United States, Army Health System, 2013, pp. 3-5–3.6.
6 - See Proceedings of the Diplomatic Conference of 1906, Report of the Drafting Committee, p. 253.
7 - See Proceedings of the Geneva Diplomatic Conference of 1929, pp. 127 and 129.
8 - See ibid. pp. 129–130 (comments by the Swiss and Dutch delegations).
9 - See ibid. p. 130 (US delegation), p. 168 (French delegation) and p. 169 (Swiss delegation). For the discussion leading to the adoption of Article 9(2) of the 1929 Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick, see ibid. pp. 183–189.
10 - See Geneva Convention on the Wounded and Sick (1929), Article 12(1).
11 - However, as noted in Pictet (ed.), Commentary on the First Geneva Convention, ICRC, 1952, p. 222: ‘This did not mean that the enemy had the right to fire deliberately upon auxiliary personnel collecting the wounded. If he has by chance recognized them for what they are, he is bound to respect their status.’
12 - See Minutes of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, Vol. I, pp. 59–66. See also ibid. Vol. V, pp. 21–22. In the end, however, the 1946 Conference maintained this category of auxiliary medical personnel, while wishing to ensure that such personnel would be able to prove their identity through an identity card. See also Report of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, p. 28.
13 - The 1947 Conference of Government Experts proposed the deletion of this category of medical personnel; see Minutes of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, Vol. II, p. 5. For the discussion, see Minutes of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, Vol. I, pp. 149–151 and 187–189.
14 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 33.
15 - Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, pp. 15–16, retaining only Article 9(1) of the 1929 Convention. Further, see Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 17, retaining just the precursor of what eventually became Article 24 of the First Convention. See also ICRC Remarks and Proposals on the 1948 Stockholm Draft, p. 13, proposing an amendment in connection with what eventually became Article 24, but with no mention of reviving what eventually became Article 25.
16 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 68. See also Minutes of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. I, 10th meeting, pp. 27–29. Two amendments were made with a view to resurrecting Article 9(2) of the 1929 Convention: see the amendment by the United Kingdom, Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. III, p. 35, Annex 32, and the amendment by Switzerland, ibid. Vol. III, p. 37, Annex 33. The principle of these amendments was accepted by the Drafting Committee; see ibid. Vol. II-A, pp. 77–78. For the text proposed by the Drafting Committee, see ibid. pp. 120–122 and, for the final changes to the text, see ibid. Vol. II-B, pp. 213–214.
17 - Note, however, the possibility created for States party to Additional Protocol I by the addition of ‘temporary medical personnel’ in Article 8(k) of the Protocol. These may, but need not, be members of the armed forces.
18 - See the commentary on Article 26, para. 2086.
19 - See Article 36(5), which refers to the eventuality of a medical aircraft having to make an ‘involuntary landing in enemy or enemy-occupied territory’. In that case ‘[t]he medical personnel shall be treated according to Article 24, and the Articles following’. This implies that personnel covered by Article 25 may be on board medical aircraft. See also the commentary on Article 25, para. 2024. When medical personnel on board a medical aircraft fall into enemy hands at sea, Article 39(5) of the Second Convention stipulates that they be treated according to Articles 36 and 37 of that Convention. This works for persons covered by Article 36, i.e. the religious, medical and hospital personnel of hospital ships and their crews. It does not work, however, for persons covered by Article 37, since that provision provides for the retention regime. If persons covered by Article 25, who were on board a medical aircraft, fall into enemy hands at sea, their status and treatment would be best regulated by Article 29 of the First Convention, applicable by analogy. See also Article 30(4) of Additional Protocol I dealing with the conditions under which a medical aircraft may be seized. If that happens, ‘[i]ts occupants shall be treated in conformity with the relevant provisions of the Conventions and of this Protocol’.
20 - Regarding loss of protection for the commission of acts harmful to the enemy, see the commentary on Article 24, section F.
21 - Although the French text of the First Convention mentions only ‘infirmiers ou brancardiers auxiliaires’, the category of ‘hospital orderlies’ is understood to be included; see Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 122. See also the commentary on Article 55, section B.2.
22 - Additional Protocol I has changed this, in that it explicitly allows for military medical personnel to be temporary; see Article 8(c)(i) and (k) of the Protocol. See also Article 20(3) of the Fourth Convention, which provides persons working in a civilian hospital with a status that resembles that provided by Article 25 of the First Convention: persons, other than persons regularly and solely engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals, ‘who are engaged in the operation and administration of civilian hospitals shall be entitled to respect and protection and to wear the armlet … while they are employed on such duties’.
23 - See United States, Law of War Manual, 2015, para. 4.13.2.
24 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 1007. For further details on the term ‘orderly’, see the commentary on Article 22, para. 1871.
25 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 118 and 1428.
26 - See the commentary on Article 24, section C.1. The term ‘search’ did not appear in Article 9(2) of the 1929 Convention. It was added by the 1946 Preliminary Conference of National Societies; see Report of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, p. 28.
27 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-B, pp. 213–214.
28 - This was deliberate; see Minutes of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Tome I, 26th meeting, p. 58.
29 - See Additional Protocol I, Article 8(k).
30 - See also Article 41(2), requiring that the ‘[m]ilitary identity documents to be carried’ by persons covered by Article 25 ‘shall specify what special training they have received’.
31 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 194.
32 - See United States, Law of War Manual, 2015, para. 4.13.2.
33 - See also Article 22(5).
34 - This scenario does not preclude that, once they have fallen into enemy hands, auxiliary medical personnel become prisoners of war who, in view of their medical skills ‘shall be employed on their medical duties in so far as the need arises’; see Article 29, which speaks of ‘members of the personnel designated in Article 25 who have fallen into the hands of the enemy’, without requiring them to have been ‘carrying out [their] duties at the time when they come into contact with the enemy or fall into his hands’. For details, see the commentary on Article 29, para. 2209.
35 - See Article 46.
36 - Article 8(2)(b)(xxiv) of the 1998 ICC Statute includes in the list of ‘war crimes’: ‘[i]ntentionally directing attacks against buildings, material, medical units and transport, and personnel using the distinctive emblems of the Geneva Conventions in conformity with international law’. The 2002 ICC Elements of Crimes, para. 1, states in connection with this war crime: ‘The perpetrator attacked one or more persons, buildings, medical units or transports or other objects using, in conformity with international law, a distinctive emblem or other method of identification indicating protection under the Geneva Conventions.’ While the method of identification provided for under Article 41 of the First Convention does not belong to ‘the distinctive emblem[s] of the Geneva Conventions’, it can be understood to qualify as one of the ‘other method[s] of identification indicating protection under the Geneva Conventions’.
37 - For further details, see the commentary on Article 24, para. 2004.
38 - See ibid. section F.
39 - There is a notable difference in this regard between ‘auxiliary medical personnel’ (covered by Article 25 of the First Convention) and ‘members of the armed forces and military units assigned to civil defence organizations’ (covered by Article 67(1) of Additional Protocol I). One of the requirements applicable to the latter (and not to the former) is that ‘such personnel do not perform any other military duties during the conflict’.
40 - Peter de Waard and John Tarrant, ‘Protection of Military Medical Personnel in Armed Conflicts’, University of Western Australia Law Review, Vol. 35, 2010, pp. 157–183, at 181.
41 - See Additional Protocol I, Article 37(1). On the entitlement of auxiliary personnel to be armed, see para. 2039.
42 - See the commentary on Article 24, section D.2.