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

[p.634] In the documents it prepared for the Conference of Government Experts in 1947, the International Committee of the Red Cross requested the marking of safety zones and localities with an emblem to be decided upon. In the Draft Agreement it submitted to the XVIIth Conference of the Red Cross in 1948, the Committee abandoned the idea of using the red cross emblem but suggested new markings: oblique red bands on a white ground. It was provided, however, that the zones set aside for the wounded and sick could make use of the red cross emblem. The Diplomatic Conference endorsed the suggestion, although one delegation pointed out the disadvantages of creating a new sign.
In reality, the red bands on a white ground apply to safety zones; no new emblem has been created for hospital zones, which shelter only the wounded and sick. As has been seen, all the parts making up a hospital zone are entitled to use the sign laid down in the Convention, provided that the Government gives permission; the use of the sign is therefore regulated by the Convention and can only be modified by special agreement. The existence of a resident population makes necessary formal agreement between the Parties concerned.
Safety zones and localities, on the other hand, have markings of their own: oblique red bands on a white ground. The number of bands is not stated. In practice it would be advisable to lay down details of the design and regulate its use, although safety zones also are protected by notification as well as by their special markings (1).
The first paragraph makes the marking of zones and localities compulsory, but illumination at night is left optional. The absence or inadequacy of distinctive markings by night would undoubtedly expose the zone or locality to risks; on the other hand, the illumination of certain parts of a territory may, as is well known, provide enemy aircraft with landmarks which will assist them in attacking military objectives.

Notes: (1) [(1) p.634] The sign of two oblique red bands on a white
ground is used as an emblem by the Association
internationale des Lieux de Genève;