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Commentary of 1960 

[p.250] The 1929 Convention did not provide for officers to be interned in special camps (or, in the absence of special camps, in buildings separate from the quarters assigned to other ranks). In fact, however, separate accommodation was always provided for officers by the belligerents in the First and Second World Wars, and the authors of the present Convention therefore considered it unnecessary to insert a clause confirming this custom.


This provision, which was included in the 1929 Convention (Article 21 ), was generally respected during the Second World War, with very few exceptions (1).
The present paragraph relates to officers and "prisoners of equivalent status". The latter phrase was adopted in 1929 because in some armies, certain non-commissioned officers are considered to be of equivalent status to officers without having all the prerogatives of the latter (2). It therefore refers to prisoners of war who, without actually having the rank, nevertheless have the status of an officer. In particular, this applies to journalists and war correspondents (3).


Because of the position and responsibilities of officers, military regulations and custom usually relieve them of personal fatigue duties, [p.251] this work being assigned to orderlies who are detailed to individual officers. It was therefore logical that the Convention should recognize this practice by an explicit provision, and Article 22, paragraph 1 , of the 1929 text contained a provision almost identical to that expressed in the present paragraph.
These are, of course, matters of detail, but the details in question were not always respected during the Second World War. The number of orderlies was often inadequate, and sometimes there were even none at all (4).
The Government Experts considered the possibility of specifying the minimum number of orderlies to be detailed to a group of officers, but decided not to do so in order not to burden the text (5). Moreover, it would be difficult to set a figure, since the amount of work to be done depends partly on the living conditions of the prisoners. On the other hand, the Convention settles one question which gave rise to many complaints during the Second World War, by stipulating that prisoners of war who are assigned to serve as orderlies may not be required to perform any other work (6).


As regards food and clothing, the 1929 Convention provided that officer prisoners of war should procure their own from the pay to be paid to them by the Detaining Power (Article 22, paragraph 2 ). In practice, however, because of rationing of foodstuffs and textile products, only the camp authorities are actually able to make the necessary purchases. During the Second World War, several States therefore concluded special agreements on a reciprocal basis, providing that the Detaining Power should supply officer prisoners of war with food rations and clothing, free of charge, while some other States undertook to provide for the maintenance of officers and made a corresponding deduction from their pay.
Officers were consequently on the same footing with other ranks as regards maintenance, and the Conference of Government Experts felt that it would be preferable to omit from the Convention any [p.252] special provision on the matter (7). The only remaining obligation for the Detaining Power, therefore, is to facilitate supervision of the mess by the officers themselves. Here the French text ("gestion") seems more liberal than the English word "supervision". Within the limits of the economic measures which war makes necessary, it will no doubt be possible to leave officers a certain amount of freedom to organize their messing facilities. It should also be remembered that Article 26, paragraph 4 (food), requires the Detaining Power to permit prisoners of war to be associated as far as possible with the preparation of their meals.

* (1) [(1) p.250] See ' Report of the International Committee of
the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World
War, ' Vol. I, pp. 252-253. See also BRETONNI RE, op.
cit., p. 149;

(2) [(2) p.250] See ' Actes de la Conférence de 1919, '
p. 477;

(3) [(3) p.250] See ' Final Record of the Diplomatic
Conference of Geneva of 1949, ' Vol. II-A, pp. 267-268.
This clause clearly indicates the necessity for the
Parties to the conflict to communicate to one another
lists of the titles and ranks in use in their armed
forces, as provided in Article 43, paragraph 1;

(4) [(1) p.251] See ' Report of the International Committee of
the Red Cross on its activities during the Second World
War, ' Vol. I, p. 253;

(5) [(2) p.251] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 155-156;

(6) [(3) p.251] See BRETONNI RE, op. cit., p. 150;

(7) [(1) p.252] See ' Report on the Work of the Conference of
Government Experts, ' pp. 156-157; ' Report of the
International Committee of the Red Cross on its activities
during the Second World War, ' Vol. I, p. 253;