Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 1958 


Under this clause, the Convention is to enter into force six months after two instruments of ratification have been deposited (1).
The Convention will, of course, enter into force at that juncture only between the first two States which ratify the Convention, and then only after six months have elapsed from the date on which the second ratification was deposited.
That date marks an event of some importance, however; it is the date on which the Convention becomes an integral part of international law. From that day onwards the Convention will exist as such, whereas without the two ratifications, it would never be more than an historical document. Then only will it become possible for a non-signatory State to become party to the Convention by acceding to it (2).
When the Convention enters into force in a country, it does not follow that all its provisions must be applied immediately. The majority, as indicated in Articles 2 and 3 of the Convention, only require implementation in cases of armed conflict. Certain Articles nevertheless become applicable immediately, in peacetime: Articles 53 and 54 , for example, relating to the misuse of the red cross emblem.
The number of ratifications required before the Convention can enter into force has been reduced to a minimum, to make it possible for accessions to this universal humanitarian Convention to take place as soon as possible.
The six months which must elapse in the case of each State (3) before its ratification takes effect should give it time to take such preliminary steps, particularly legislative and administrative measures, as are necessary in view of the new obligations it has assumed.
The Fourth Convention actually entered into force on October 21, 1950, Switzerland having ratified it on March 31, 1950, and Yugoslavia on April 21 of the same year.


The Convention will enter into force, for each State which subsequently ratifies it, six months after the deposit of the instrument of [p.613] ratification. From that date, the State in question will be bound by the Convention in its relations with all Powers which have ratified it not less than six months before. Thereafter, it will be bound in its relations with other Powers six months after each of them has ratified the Convention.

Notes: (1) [(1) p.612] The text says " ' not less than ' two
instruments of ratification" to meet the improbable case
of several States having ratified on the same day;

(2) [(2) p.612] See commentary on Article 155, p. 621;

(3) [(3) p.612] In practice, the waiting period will be longer
in the single case of the first State to ratify the
Convention, since it will be determined by the date of the
second ratification;