Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
  • Print page
Commentary of 1958 

The meaning of "work directly connected with military operations" is defined in Articles 40 and 51 of the Convention. Reference may also be made to Article 50 of the Third Convention of 1949, which authorizes the employment of prisoners of war on the following classes of work:

(a) agriculture; (b) industries connected with the production of or the extraction of raw
materials, and manufacturing industries, with the exception of
metallurgical, machinery and chemical industries; public works and
building operations which have no military character or purpose; (c) transport and handling of stores which are not military in character
or purpose; (d) commercial business, and arts and crafts; (e) domestic service; (f) public utility services having no military character or purpose.

There is little ambiguity about the expression "production of war material". It goes without saying that the manufacture of arms is excluded, and so is the manufacture of any article, substance or apparatus solely for use by the armed forces. There are, however, a number of doubtful cases -- the manufacture of lorries, for example, [p.630] since such vehicles may be used for purely civilian purposes, but may also be used by the armed forces.
As can be seen, the solution provided by Article 2 is not as complete as could have been desired. This is one of the points which States might deal with in greater detail when bringing the Agreement into force.
Nevertheless, in view of the difficulty of the problem, it would be advisable to make every effort to ensure that the local population in a hospital and safety zone is always as small as possible. Article 4 (b) of this Draft Agreement emphasizes that particular point.