International Committee of the Red Cross
Who we are
What we do
Where we work
War & Law
Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
[p.340] ARTICLE 45
-- DETAILED EXECUTION. UNFORESEEN
Article 45 reproduces the text of Article 26 of the 1929 Convention
with one change which will be noted below. The same provision is to be found in the 1906 Convention, and even, in part, in that of 1864.
Although the Geneva Convention has become, with the lapse of time, much more explicit than it once was, it is still primarily an expression of major principles, whereas the matter with which it deals is of a preeminently live and varied nature. The Convention must therefore be implemented, in practice, by a great many executive measures designed to regulate in minute detail the actual situations which arise -- situations which it will sometimes be impossible to foresee.
Under the present Article the Contracting Parties, acting through their Commanders-in-Chief, must, in the first place, ensure the detailed execution of the preceding Articles. The States remain fully responsible for this duty and for the acts of their Commanders-in-Chief. The 1949 text emphasizes the point, thus improving on the 1929 text, which appeared to put the whole of the responsibility on the Commanders-in-Chief.
The Contracting Parties will have, for example, to take the following action: fix the proportion of medical personnel and equipment to be left [p.341] with wounded who have to be abandoned (Article 12, paragraph 5
), organize the search for the wounded and make local arrangements for their collection and evacuation (Article 15
), appeal to the charitable zeal of the inhabitants (Article 18
), determine the percentage of medical personnel to be retained (Article 28, paragraph 1
), arrange for the emblem to be worn by medical personnel and to be displayed on buildings and equipment (Article 39
), and so on. A whole series of other Articles might be cited, in connection with which instructions have to be given and practical steps taken in execution of the general rules laid down.
Secondly, the Contracting Powers will have to provide, in the same way, for cases which are not catered for in the Convention. For the latter could not make specific provision for all the possible situations which might arise during a conflict. Article 45 gives us the criterion which should be applied in order to find a solution in such cases -- namely, that the general principles of the Convention must always be followed. We feel that it is unnecessary to enumerate these principles here, as they have already been defined sufficiently clearly in the foregoing pages (1); there is one which summarizes them all: it is that the wounded and sick are to be protected in all circumstances and cared for without distinction of nationality.
It is by their compliance with this dual duty of detailed execution and provision for unforeseen cases that the Powers will meet in full the obligation they have incurred under Article 1 of the Convention
(2), of which the present Article is a complementary part.
* (1) [(1) p.341] See for example, the comments on Articles 3,
12, 14, 16, 17, 18, 19, 24, 26, 30, 33, 34, 35 and 38;
(2) [(2) p.341] See above, page 24;
See the Commentary of 2016
Who we are
What we do
Where we work
War & law
Working for the ICRC
Doing business with the ICRC
Israel and the occupied territories
Global Partnership for Humanitarian Impact and Innovation
Republic of Korea (Korean)
Humanitarian law and policy
L'humanitaire dans tous ses états (French)
Somalia (English and Somali)
© International Committee of the Red Cross