Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
Treaties and Documents
Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Additional Protocols, and their Commentaries
Historical Treaties and Documents
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977.
[p.1075] Article 94
3713 Accession gives the Parties to the Conventions the possibility to bind themselves in a single act instead of doing so by the two-stage
process of signature followed by ratification, as laid down in
' (Signature) ' and 93
' (Ratification). ' It remains the
only possible way for States which are not [p.1076] signatories, as
the Protocol has no longer been open for signature since 13 December
3714 This article was adopted by consensus both in Committee I and in plenary. (2)
Analysis of the article
' States entitled to accede '
3715 Only Parties to the Conventions are entitled to accede; by means of a reasonable and not unduly strict interpretation of this
requirement of prior adherence to the Conventions, (3) there were
three accessions to the Conventions and the Protocol
3716 In view of the differences between accession, on the one hand, and signature followed by ratification, on the other hand, it is also
self-evident that only a State which is not a signatory to the
Protocol can accede to it.
' Opening the Protocol for accession '
3717 Traditionally treaties were opened for accession only at the end of the period that they were open for signature, or sometimes only
after the treaty had entered into force. For example, the Conventions
had adopted the latter solution. (5) In accordance with the current
trend in treaty law, the Protocol provided some latitude in allowing
accession even while it was still possible to sign.
3718 Contemporary multilateral treaties frequently require the participation of a fairly large number of States in order to enter
into force. (6) In view of the relative brevity of the period when
signature was possible, States which were not signatories would run
the risk of being prevented from acceding for a long time if they
could only do so after the entry into force, which itself would then
depend on achieving the given number of ratifications alone.
3719 So as not to stand in the way of States wishing to bind themselves at an early date, the Protocol therefore provided the
possibility of accession, not only before it entered into force, but
from the time it was open for signature. Article 94
explicitly mention the deferment period, as does Article 92
' (Signature). ' [p.1077] However, it was understood by the
Conference that the Protocol would not be open for accession before
being open for signature. (7)
3720 As it happens, the arguments given above for such flexible arrangements in treaties in general do not necessarily explain why
this facility exists here, as the participation of only two States
was sufficient for the Protocol to enter into force in accordance
with Article 95
' (Entry into force), ' paragraph 1. On the other
hand, the deferment period of six months before opening the Protocol
for signature constituted an argument in favour of opening it at the
same time for accession: during this period States could evaluate the
consequences of participating in the Protocol to their own
satisfaction and decide to accede to it. One may recall that one
instrument of accession was indeed deposited during the period that
the Protocol was open for signature. (8)
' The nature of accession '
3721 Accession is the single act definitively expressing the consent of a State to be bound by the Protocol and making it applicable to
that State's relations with the other Contracting Parties. Thus, like
ratification, it requires a thorough examination on the merits, and a
number of internal procedures laid down by the constitution of every
State must be carried out.
3722 Moreover, the preparations for accession can already be accompanied by the development of measures for the execution of
obligations such as those envisaged in Article 80
' (Measures for
execution); ' at least a preliminary study of such measures is
indispensable in the examination of accession. On the other hand,
their final preparation and implementation do not become legal
obligations until the Protocol has been acceded to or even until it
has entered into force for the State concerned. (9)
' The form of accession '
3723 The instrument of accession must be deposited by the diplomatic representatives of the country concerned with the Swiss federal
Council, or transmitted in the form of a written communication. (10)
[p.1078] ' Reservations and declarations '
3724 The instrument of accession must also mention any reservations and declarations that may be made. (11) A declaration in accordance
with Article 90
' (International Fact-Finding Commission), '
paragraph 2 (a), can be made at the time of accession, or at any time
' Notification by the depositary '
3725 The depositary will notify the deposit of every instrument of accession, as well as any reservations and declarations made on
accession in accordance with Article 100
' (Notifications), '
sub-paragraphs (a) and (c). As of 31 December 1984, there were 30
accessions to the Protocol, without any declarations in accordance
with Article 90
' (International Fact-Finding Commission), '
paragraph 2 (a), and five were with reservations or
' B.Z. '
NOTES (1) [(1) p.1076] Cf. commentary Art. 93, supra, pp. 1071-1072, for the other ways in which the Protocol can be made
applicable in a definitive manner, ad hoc, or
(2) [(2) p.1076] O.R. IX, p. 473, CDDH/I/SR.76, para. 3; O.R. VI, p. 351, CDDH/SR.46, para. 68;
(3) [(3) p.1076] On this point, cf. commentary Art. 92, supra, pp. 1068-1069;
(4) [(4) p.1076] As of 31 December 1984. One State simultaneously succeeded to the Conventions and acceded to
the Protocol, but this is even less debatable;
(5) [(5) p.1076] Art. 60/59/139/155 common to the Conventions;
(6) [(6) p.1076] Thus for example, the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 23 May 1969 itself requires 35, in
accordance with Art. 84 (Entry into force), para. 1;
(7) [(7) p.1077] O.R. VI, p. 351, CDDH/SR.46. para. 69; pp. 361 and 378-379, id., Annex (Australia and Japan);
(8) [(8) p.1077] Libya, 7 June 1978;
(9) [(9) p.1077] Cf. Art. 95;
(10) [(10) p.1077] For an overall picture of the functions of the depositary, cf. commentary Art. 100, infra, p. 1113;
(11) [(11) p.1078] On the general question of reservations to the Protocol, cf. introduction to this Part, ' supra, '
(12) [(12) p.1078] For the list of accessions, with references to all reservations or declarations made, cf. infra, p.