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.
Entry into force
[p.1079] Article 95
-- Entry into force
3726 The principal object of paragraph I is to determine the decisive moment at which, by its entry into force, the Protocol becomes really
part of international law. This moment is also that at which the
Protocol enters into force for the first two Parties, i.e., its legal
effects can be applied with respect to these Parties.
[p.1080] 3727 Paragraph 2 determines the moment of the Protocol's entry into force for States ratifying or acceding lo it after the deposit of the
second instrument of ratification or accession.
3728 Article 95
was adopted by consensus, both in Committee I and in plenary. (1)
Analysis of the article
' Paragraph 1 '
3729 Even when it has been adopted by the competent body, a treaty really only commences to exist as an instrument of international law
when a specific number of States accept being bound by it in
accordance with the agreed conditions.
3730 The number of two ratifications had been adopted for this purpose by the Conventions. (2) The Conference welcomed the ICRC proposal to
keep to this minimum number of two for the Protocol: (3) this meant
that it would quickly become applicable, at least between the
Contracting States. Moreover, it could accelerate the rate of
ratifications and accessions. Following this point of view in a consistent fashion, the Conference also decided to permit one or two
instruments of accession to determine the entry into force of the
Protocol, or to contribute to this. In fact, the Protocol entered
into force on 7 December 1978 while it was still open for signature,
after one ratification and one accession. (4) On this date it became
an integral part of international law.
3731 There is an interval of six months between the deposit of the second instrument of ratification or accession and the Protocol's
entry into force for the first two Contracting Parties. This period
serves to allow the States involved to prepare any legislative or
administrative measures for implementing their new obligations. (5)
It also serves to permit the depositary to make the notifications
required by Article 100
' (Notifications), ' sub-paragraphs (a), (b)
and (c) (accessions, ratifications, entry into force of the Protocol,
and any declarations in accordance with Article 90
-- ' International
Fact-Finding Commission, ' paragraph 2(a)).
' Paragraph 2 '
3732 This applies to States other than the first two Contracting Parties. There is an interval of six months identical to that laid
down in paragraph 1, for the same reasons, between the deposit by a
State of its instrument of ratification or [p.1081] accession and the
entry into force of the Protocol between that State and the other
' Entry into force and application '
3733 This article deals with the moment from which the legal effects of the Protocol will be applicable to the Contracting Parties, but
this requires three clarifications.
3734 First, the provisions relating to the entry into force of the Protocol and to certain functions of the depositary are obviously
applicable from the outset.
3735 Secondly, the respective points in time at which the other provisions become effectively applicable may vary: in this respect,
one may refer to the commentary on Article 3
' (Beginning and end of
application) '. (6)
3736 finally, only Contracting Parties, i.e., States, are taken into consideration in this context, and not the authorities covered by
' (Treaty relations upon entry into force of this
protocol), ' paragraph 3: sub-paragraph (a) of this paragraph
provides for a special solution for the situations it covers.
' Immediate effect '
3737 The Conventions contain a common article (7) by virtue of which the situations covered in their Article 2
will give immediate effect
to ratifications and accessions deposited by the Parties to the
conflict before or after the beginning of such situations. Thus, for
obvious humanitarian reasons, the six month interval which normally
separates the ratification or accession by a State from the entry
into force of the Conventions for that State, is dispensed with if
the conditions for their application are fulfilled.
3738 Because the Protocol is an instrument additional to the Conventions, (8) the ICRC had considered that the clause concerned
would apply to the Protocol and that it would not even be necessary
to repeat it. However, upon reflection it was considered useful to
ask Committee I whether there might be any doubt on this point. (9)
3739 As no organ of the Conference requested a debate on this question, it may be concluded that, by virtue of Article
common to the Conventions, the existence of a situation
covered by Article 1
of the Protocol ' (General principles and scope
of application) ' will give immediate effect to the ratifications and
accessions of the Parties to the conflict. If this has not already
been done, the depositary will give notification of such
ratifications and accessions by the quickest means available.
' B.Z. '
NOTES (1) [(1) p.1080] O.R. IX, p. 473, CDDH/I/SR.76, para. 3; O.R. VI, p. 351, CDDH/SR.46, para. 69;
(2) [(2) p.1080] Art. 58/57/138/153 common to the Conventions;
(3) [(3) p.1080] Nevertheless one State would have preferred that the entry into force of the Protocol had required
half of the Parties to the Conventions, plus one, to be
bound by it; cf. O.R. VI, p. 375, CDDH/SR.46, Annex
(4) [(4) p.1080] Ratification by Ghana on 28 February 1978, and accession by Libya on 7 June 1978;
(5) [(5) p.1080] Cf. commentary Art. 80, supra, p. 929;
(6) [(6) p.1081] Supra, pp. 66-67;
(7) [(7) p.1081] Art. 62/61/141/157;
(8) [(8) p.1081] On this subject, cf. commentary on the title of the Protocol, supra, pp. 20-21, and on Art. 1, para. 3,
supra, p. 39, and on Art. 96, para. 1, infra, pp.
(9) [(9) p.1081] O.R. IX, p. 359, CDDH/I/SR.67, para. 24;