Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2017 
Article 26 : Tonnage of hospital ships
Text of the provision
The protection mentioned in Articles 22, 24 and 25 shall apply to hospital ships of any tonnage and to their lifeboats, wherever they are operating. Nevertheless, to ensure the maximum comfort and security, the Parties to the conflict shall endeavour to utilize, for the transport of wounded, sick and shipwrecked over long distances and on the high seas, only hospital ships of over 2,000 tons gross.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
2115  Article 26, which has no equivalent in the treaties preceding the Second Convention, makes clear that the protection due to hospital ships under the Second Convention does not depend either on their tonnage or on the geographical area in which they are operating. Thus, this provision reaffirms and strengthens the protection afforded to the different categories of hospital ship by Article 22 (military hospital ships), Article 24 (hospital ships utilized by relief societies and private individuals of Parties to the conflict) and Article 25 (hospital ships utilized by relief societies and private individuals of neutral countries).
2116  Tonnage is one of the characteristics of hospital ships that must be notified to the Parties to the conflict under Articles 22, 24 and 25. Note that Article 22(2) uses the term ‘registered gross tonnage’, while Article 26 refers to ‘tons gross’. It appears that the two phrases are synonymous.
2117  Article 26 expressly extends the same protection to the lifeboats belonging to hospital ships, as they are necessary for rescuing shipwrecked persons and are an integral component of the ships.
2118  Article 26 was particularly helpful in settling a dispute that arose during the Second World War and which continued during deliberations on the Second Convention. Some States favoured not specifying a minimum tonnage, because they could not accommodate big hospital ships in their shallow coastal waters, or because they could not afford the considerable cost of building new hospital ships and preferred to convert merchant vessels.[1] Such vessels were often less than 2,000 tons gross. Other States considered it essential to specify a minimum tonnage to prevent an ‘undue multiplication of claimants to immunity’.[2] The compromise agreed upon at the 1949 Diplomatic Conference is reflected in Article 26.
2119  While the first sentence confirms that there is no legally required minimum tonnage below which hospital ships would not be protected, the second sentence was an indispensable condition for some delegations to accept the protection of hospital ships according to Articles 22, 24 and 25. Nevertheless, the scope of the second sentence is limited. It merely obliges the Parties to the conflict to ‘endeavour to utilize’ hospital ships of over 2,000 tons gross for transport ‘over long distances and on the high seas’. Hence, the use on the high seas of hospital ships of less than 2,000 tons gross is not prohibited. In coastal waters (i.e. a country’s internal waters, archipelagic waters and territorial sea), the Parties to the conflict are not obliged to endeavour to utilize hospital ships of more than 2,000 tons gross.
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B. Historical background
2120  At the First Hague Peace Conference in 1899, a minimum tonnage for hospital ships was not considered an issue. In its report to the plenary, the Second Commission explained that ‘each State will construct or assign as it sees fit the ships intended for hospital service; no particular type of vessel should be required of it’.[3] Similarly, neither the 1907 Hague Peace Conference nor the 1937 Commission of Naval Experts considered the size of hospital ships to be an issue.
2121  During the Second World War, however, the size required of hospital ships for them to enjoy protection under the 1907 Hague Convention (X) became increasingly relevant, although State practice was far from uniform.[4] In 1940, Great Britain, expecting a German invasion from the sea, refused to recognize and protect as hospital ships the one hundred or so fast light craft commissioned by Germany for air-sea rescue operations off the British coast. The British Government announced the rejection of all notifications of hospital ships of less than 3,000 tons.[5] In practice, the British Government observed a limit of 2,000 tons in European waters. In the Pacific theatre, however, neither Great Britain nor the United States demanded a minimum tonnage.[6] The United States recognized as hospital ships ‘a number of vessels of a size much smaller than 2,000 tons’.[7] Indeed, the intercepted 1,500-ton German hospital ship Freiburg, which was not recognized by the British Government as a protected hospital ship initially, was released after a search revealed it had been fully equipped as a hospital ship.[8]
2122  Although the case of the Freiburg and other State practice seem to suggest that there was, according to the law at the time, no minimum-tonnage requirement, many States during the drafting of the 1949 Geneva Conventions considered such a requirement to be necessary for the protection of hospital ships.[9] The Preliminary Conference of National Societies in 1946 had already recommended that a ‘minimum tonnage for hospital-ships be decided upon’ because ‘in their report to the Conference, the International Committee [of the Red Cross] stated that during the recent War, controversy had arisen between belligerents with regard to the minimum tonnage of hospital-ships’.[10]
2123  At the 1947 Conference of Government Experts,
[O]ne Delegation proposed a new Article fixing the minimum tonnage for hospital-ships. This figure would be 6,000 tons. Another Delegation proposed a minimum of 2,000 tons. A third Delegation suggested, to obviate difficulties arising from the various kinds of tonnage (registered tons, displacement tons, metric tons, etc.) that this question be settled not on the basis of tonnage, but of size, and more particularly of surface. The Commission agreed (one Delegate’s opinion being reserved) upon the principle of stating the minimum tonnage, but did not consider itself competent to determine an exact figure. The points to be considered in settling the necessary definition to be inserted in the Convention are, firstly, visibility and, secondly, proper accommodation for the sick.[11]
2124  Against this background, article 19 of the Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, which served as a basis for discussion during the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, provided for the protection of hospital ships only if, inter alia, ‘their gross tonnage is not less than one thousand tons’.[12]
2125  During the Diplomatic Conference the minimum-tonnage requirement for hospital ships was a highly disputed issue.[13] The United States and Great Britain, in particular, based on their experience of the two world wars, insisted on a minimum tonnage. Together with the Netherlands, they argued that ‘only those of a certain tonnage possessed installations sufficiently spacious to ensure the proper care of the wounded and sick, permitted the display of protective signs of an adequate size and were sufficiently visible from afar. The use of ships of lesser tonnage would create difficulties and would hinder the application of the Convention.’[14] The British delegate added that ‘the experience of both the British and United States Navies had shown that the protection of the Convention could hardly be extended to small vessels which were difficult to recognize, whose use was economically unsound and which were not adequately equipped to ensure the comfort of the wounded’.[15] Whereas the US delegate was prepared to agree to a minimum tonnage of 1,000 tons, the British delegate insisted it be raised to 2,000 tons.[16]
2126  Meanwhile, the Scandinavian delegates emphasized that a minimum tonnage would favour the great maritime Powers because
smaller countries were only able to launch hospital ships of a few hundred tons. The Swedish coast was studded with small islands and navigation was difficult for large ships. Moreover, the Swedish Health Services often used small boats with a high speed which permitted the rapid transport of the wounded. Experience had shown the value of such craft, although their speed admittedly made it difficult to recognize the protective signs.[17]
2127  The Norwegian delegate added that ‘the greater part of the Norwegian coastal hospital ships would be deprived of protection’.[18] The delegate of the USSR ‘considered that the proposed restriction regarding the minimum tonnage of hospital ships was inacceptable as it would prevent a number of small countries from possessing hospital ships and, consequently, from rescuing shipwrecked persons’.[19]
2128  Eventually, Committee I agreed, by a majority of votes, on a compromise based on the following conditions: there would be no minimum tonnage requirement for (military and other) hospital ships (current Articles 22, 24 and 25); all hospital ships ‘of every size’ would be protected, but ‘in order to ensure maximum comfort and safety’ during transport over long distances and on the high seas, States would be advised to use ‘only hospital ships of more than 2,000 gross registered tons’ (current Article 26); and the protection of coastal rescue craft would be subject to ‘operational requirements’ (current Article 27). It is important to note that France, the Netherlands, Great Britain and the United States stated that they could not adopt what are, in the current numbering, Articles 22, 24 and 25, unless what is current Article 26 was adopted likewise.[20]
2129  In its report, Committee I
emphasized that it did not intend to limit the protection of hospital ships to those of any particular tonnage. It fully recognized that the visibility of ships of 2,000 tons gross and over was an important factor of security. It also agreed that vessels of this tonnage were the only ones capable of ensuring sufficient comfort for the wounded, sick or shipwrecked. The Committee therefore recommended the use of such vessels. But after taking into consideration the evidence that several nations would find it impossible to acquire ships of this size, it declined to specify a minimum tonnage.[21]
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C. Discussion
1. Measurement of tonnage
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2130  The measurement of a ship’s tonnage is a rather complicated matter. Usually, warships and coastguard ships are measured using ‘displacement tonnage’:
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Displacement tonnage is the weight of seawater displaced by a vessel at a particular draft. Two kinds of displacement tonnage were in use, ‘light displacement tonnage’ (déplacement léger, dislocamento leggiero) and ‘displacement tonnage loaded’ (déplacement en charge, dislocamento a pieno carico). … The term ‘displacement’ in current terminology is comparable to the ‘displacement tonnage’.
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However, the Second Convention refers to the measurement applied to merchant vessels, i.e. to the ‘registered gross tonnage’ as used in Article 22(2) and ‘tons gross’ as used in Article 26. It appears that the two phrases are synonymous.
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2131  The 1969 International Convention on Tonnage Measurement of Ships, which sought to standardize the measurement of ships, uses the terms ‘gross tonnage’ and ‘net tonnage’. It will depend on the circumstances whether this Convention applies to the measurement of tonnage of hospital ships in the sense of the Second Convention.
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2132  The term ‘registered gross tonnage’ is not used in the IMO Convention. It has been explained as follows:
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The ‘registered tonnage’ was intended as an indicator of total ‘weight’ of a ship. The weight of cargo was assumed to be 50% of the ‘registered tonnage’. As the carriage of lighter cargoes such as cotton became more frequent, more space was needed for stowage. Spaces other than cargo space were also utilised for cargo, and ships with higher volume had higher earning potential. Further, the formula-based method for ‘registered tonnage’ led to the construction of ill-formed vessels with low tonnage, and the ‘registered tonnage’ did not realistically represent the actual ‘weight’ of the ship.
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Due to these reasons, a new term ‘Gross register tonnage (GRT)’ was introduced in the 1854 British Act. GRT is determined from the total volume of enclosed spaces. Each 100 ft3 (or 2.83 m3) is counted as one ton, and GRT is obtained by dividing the total enclosed volume in ft3 by 100 (or by 2.83 if in m3). The GRT could have decimal values.
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The changes in design, transition from wood to iron hull, and changes in propulsion method meant that the GRT alone could not signify the cargo capacity. Some part of the cargo space was allocated for propulsion machinery in steamships. The traditional desire to relate tonnage to income yielding cargo capacity, led to the development of another registered tonnage, called the ‘net register tonnage’ (NRT).
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Net register tonnage is ‘obtained by deducting the volume of spaces not available for cargo (such as space for propulsion machinery and crew’s quarters), from the volume for GRT, and dividing the resultant volume in ft3 by 100 (or by 2.83 if in m3). The NRT also could have decimal value.’
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2133  It is important to note that the figures which are available in the public domain when it comes to hospital ships refer merely to ‘displacement tonnage’ (DT) and not to ‘gross registered tonnage’ (GRT) or ‘gross tonnage (GT)’. Notably, DT is used for warships whereas GRT/GT is used for commercial ships. While DT is a function of the ship’s mass, GRT/GT is a function of its volume.
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2134  Lastly, mention must be made of the remarks submitted in relation to the words ‘2,000 tons gross’ in Article 26 by the IMO during the preparation of what eventually became Additional Protocol I: ‘It is generally accepted that gross tonnage is not a good indication of size, since it was not devised for such purpose, particularly in reference to passenger ships. It is preferable to use length as the unit of measurement.’
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2. First sentence
a. No limitation of protection according to tonnage
2135  Although some States at the 1949 Diplomatic Conference were reluctant to accord hospital ships of less than 2,000 tons gross protection under Articles 22, 24 and 25 of the Second Convention, the wording of the first sentence is clear. The legal protection to which hospital ships are entitled remains full and complete regardless of their tonnage. This is particularly important for small States, which will not always be in a position to build or operate hospital ships of over 2,000 tons gross and which will, in most cases, therefore, have to convert merchant vessels of lesser size into hospital ships.[22]
2136  Note, however, that the functions hospital ships must perform in order to enjoy protection under the aforementioned articles presuppose a certain size, particularly if the ships operate in sea areas other than shallow coastal waters. During the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, Committee I reported that the ‘designation “hospital ship” cannot be applied to any type of craft. It is necessary that it should be a ship. It is not sufficient for the vessel in question to be merely capable of rescue operations. It must be so equipped that it is in a position to care for and transport the wounded, sick and shipwrecked. A very clear distinction is therefore drawn between hospital ships and lifeboats.’[23] If they are to transport and treat the wounded, sick and shipwrecked over long distances on the high seas they must have on board the equipment necessary for providing at least a minimum level of medical treatment, as well as sufficient space for the patients. Moreover, the Convention draws a distinction between hospital ships and not only their lifeboats but also coastal rescue craft (Article 27). Hence, the gross tonnage of a hospital ship should exceed that of coastal rescue craft.[24]
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b. Protection of hospital-ship lifeboats
2137  Articles 22, 24 and 25 do not expressly include lifeboats of hospital ships within their protective scope. It could be argued that since such lifeboats are important for rescuing persons shipwrecked at sea, they enjoy the same legal status and protection as the hospital ships to which they belong. Nevertheless, for reasons of legal clarity, Article 26 specifies that lifeboats of hospital ships are included within the protective scope of Articles 22, 24 and 25, thus formalizing and being constitutive of their protection.[25]
2138  The Parties to the conflict are not obliged to notify the number and size of a hospital ship’s lifeboats (although they may, of course, choose to include them in a notification). Article 26 does not precondition the protection of lifeboats belonging to hospital ships on their notification. Accordingly, neither they nor their personnel may be attacked or captured, and they must be respected and protected at all times (Article 36). The belligerents must refrain from all actions that interfere with or prevent a lifeboat’s performance of its humanitarian tasks, unless and to the extent that such interference is explicitly provided for in the Convention (Article 31). Under the duty to protect lifeboats, belligerents must take positive action to ensure others respect them too.[26] In short, lifeboats enjoy the same protection as the hospital ships to which they belong. Note that, according to Article 43(3), lifeboats ‘shall be painted white with dark red crosses prominently displayed’. However, the marking is merely a means of facilitating identification and is not constitutive of a lifeboat’s protection. Although not expressly stated in Article 34, lifeboats will clearly lose their protection under Article 26 if they are ‘used to commit, outside their humanitarian duties, acts harmful to the enemy’.
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c. Protection ratione loci
2139  With regard to the geographical scope of protection of hospital ships and their lifeboats, Article 26, importantly, emphasizes that they are protected ‘wherever they are operating’. Although this part of the first sentence was not discussed during the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, it is safe to assume that it was meant as a response to certain practice during the Second World War. For example, in 1940 Great Britain had been unwilling to grant protection to more than one hundred fast light craft commissioned by the German Government because, inter alia, they were to operate ‘in proximity of the British coastal defences at a time when invasion was believed to be imminent’.[27] The British Government was afraid that those craft might be used for espionage and intelligence-gathering.
2140  According to Article 26, the area in which hospital ships and their lifeboats are operating is irrelevant as regards their protection. Hence, they are allowed to fulfil their humanitarian tasks wherever necessary for the protection of victims of an armed conflict at sea. This includes not only high-sea areas but also the territorial (and, where applicable, the archipelagic) waters of the Parties to the conflict, as well as its internal waters. Persons may also be protected by the Second Convention on other bodies of water such as lakes.[28] This is, however, without prejudice to the belligerents’ rights under Article 31 and the loss of protection under Article 34.
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3. Second sentence
a. Minimum tonnage: Obligation to endeavour
2141  According to the second sentence of Article 26, the Parties to the conflict ‘shall endeavour to utilize, for the transport of wounded, sick and shipwrecked over long distances and on the high seas, only hospital ships of over 2,000 tons gross’. The word ‘shall’ indicates that this is a legal obligation, which is, however, limited in two respects.
2142  First, the obligation only applies if the wounded, sick and shipwrecked are to be transported ‘over long distances and on the high seas’. At the time of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, the high seas included all sea areas beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea, whose breadth was not to exceed three nautical miles.[29] Today, the ‘high seas’ in a non-technical sense include all sea areas beyond the territorial sea.[30] However, the obligation does not come into play just because the wounded, sick and shipwrecked are to be transported over sea areas beyond the outer limit of territorial waters. Given the use of the word ‘and’ in the second sentence, the transport must also be ‘over long distances’. While what constitutes a ‘long distance’ is not specified, it follows from both the context and the object and purpose of the provision, i.e. ‘to ensure maximum comfort and security’, that it must be a distance that cannot be covered within a few hours. In such instances, ‘maximum comfort’ can only be ensured if the ship has the installations necessary for the treatment of the wounded, sick and shipwrecked. Of course, everything will depend on the prevailing circumstances. For example, it will not be necessary to use hospital ships of more than 2,000 tons gross for transport over long distances if the number of wounded, sick and shipwrecked is small and the ship used is designed to operate on the high seas. As a matter of law, the obligation of the second sentence of Article 26 does not apply to the use of hospital ships in sea areas other than the high seas, or over short distances. If, however, hospital ships navigating only in the territorial sea or archipelagic waters have to cover long distances, it makes sense that the Parties to the conflict should endeavour to use ships of over 2,000 tons gross.
2143  Second, the Parties to the conflict are merely obliged to ‘endeavour’ to utilize hospital ships of such size. The verb ‘endeavour’ means to ‘try hard to do or achieve’ something.[31] This obligation certainly applies to those States that possess hospital ships of more than 2,000 tons gross. However, the mere fact that the hospital ships of a Party to the conflict are less than 2,000 tons gross is not sufficient justification for not utilizing hospital ships of more than 2,000 tons gross. As a minimum, the relevant Party to the conflict may need to consider, where necessary, using ‘private’ hospital ships or converting merchant vessels into hospital ships to ensure maximum comfort and security.[32] Again, the obligation is dependent on the circumstances. If the number of wounded, sick and shipwrecked persons to be transported over a long distance is small, their ‘maximum comfort and security’ may be ensured even if the tonnage of the ship is less than 2,000 tons gross. If the maximum comfort and security of a larger number of such persons can only be ensured by using a hospital ship of more than 2,000 tons gross, the Party to the conflict ‘shall endeavour to utilize’ a hospital ship of the recommended size. Depending on the circumstances, such failure may also amount to a violation of Article 12. It should be emphasized that such failure is without prejudice to the continuing protection of the hospital ship concerned.
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b. Maximum comfort and security
2144  The objective of the second sentence is to ‘ensure maximum comfort and security’. The noun ‘comfort’, which is defined as ‘a state of ease and freedom from pain or constraint’,[33] relates to the wounded, sick and shipwrecked transported and treated on board hospital ships. The medical equipment and accommodation on hospital ships should correspond to the needs and number of persons being transported. The adjective ‘maximum’ seems to suggest that hospital ships must meet the highest medical and technical standards possible in the circumstances. However, this is an objective and not an absolute obligation. Particularly in cases where a large number of persons are being transported, the objective set forth by Article 26 may best be fulfilled if the ship’s tonnage exceeds 2,000 tons gross. ‘Security’ relates to the hospital ships, their crews and the patients on board. At the time of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions, the general view was that, on the high seas, only bigger ships displaying the protective emblem could be visually identified from a long distance. Today, this seems less relevant because there are technical means of identification that are often more effective than the human eye.[34] That said, visual identification continues to be the main method used in many regions of the world. To be visually identifiable, therefore, hospital ships travelling on the high seas must have the surface area necessary to display the markings provided for in Article 43.
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c. Recent examples
2145  Hospital ships, particularly those of more than 2,000 tons gross, are expensive. Nevertheless, some States do operate hospital ships with the tonnage stipulated in the second sentence.[35] It is important to note that the available figures refer merely to displacement tonnage and not to ‘registered gross tonnage’ or ‘tons gross’.
2146  The (People’s Republic of China) People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) for instance, is currently equipped with one hospital ship – ship No. 866, the ‘Peace Ark’ – which is approximately 178 metres long, 24 metres wide and 35.5 metres high, with a full load displacement of about 14,300 tons. It has a total of approximately 400 personnel, including both the medical personnel and the crew operating it.[36]
2147  The two Mercy Class hospital ships operated by the US Navy’s Military Sealift Command, the USNS Mercy and the USNS Comfort, have a displacement of 69,360 long tons full load, a length of 894 feet (272.6 metres) and a beam of 105.6 feet (32.8 metres). Their maximum speed is 17.5 knots and they have a range of up to 13,420 nautical miles. They have a capacity of 1,000 beds and contain 12 operating rooms. The crew comprises around 71 civilians and up to 1,200 military personnel (support, communications and medical).[37]
2148  During the Falkland/Malvinas Islands conflict (1982), the Parties to the conflict gave notification of hospital ships that clearly exceeded 2,000 tons gross.[38]
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Select bibliography
Aji Vasudevan, Tonnage Measurement of Ships: Historical Evolution, Current Issues and Proposals for the Way Forward, World Maritime University, Malmö, 2010, pp. 1–121.
See also the select bibliography of the commentary on Article 22 of the Second Convention.

1 - On the conversion of merchant vessels into hospital ships, see the commentary on Article 22, section C.1.d.
2 - Mossop, p. 404.
3 - Report to the 1899 Hague Peace Conference, p. 33.
4 - Wolff Heintschel von Heinegg, ‘The Development of the Law of Naval Warfare from the Nineteenth to the Twenty-First Century – Some Select Issues’, Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law, Vol. 17, 2014, pp. 69–93, at 76: ‘[D]uring the two World Wars, the provisions agreed upon in 1899 and 1907 proved to be insufficient. In particular, the lack of an agreed upon minimum tonnage had proven to be one of the reasons why the protection of hospital ships was less effective than envisaged by the drafters of The Hague Conventions.’
5 - See Mossop, p. 403.
6 - Ibid. See also Oppenheim, pp. 503–504, and Tucker, p. 125, fn. 92.
7 - US Secretary of State Hull, in a note to the US Embassy in London, airgram No. 451, March 23 1944, US Department of State, file 740.00117 European War 1939/219, quoted in Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, Vol. 10, 1968, p. 634.
8 - Mossop, pp. 403–404; Tucker, p. 125, fn. 92. Marjorie M. Whiteman, Digest of International Law, Vol. 10, 1968, p. 635, reports that the ‘United States War Department had informed field commanders that the ship Freiburg would operate as a German hospital ship’. See United States, Memorandum from the War Department to the Department of State, 14 February 1944, US Department of State, file 740.00117 European War 1939/219.
9 - See Oppenheim, pp. 503–504, and Tucker, p. 125, fn. 92.
10 - Report of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, p. 58.
11 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 88.
12 - Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 38.
13 - See also the Report of the Working Party entrusted with the consideration of Articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Maritime Warfare Convention presented to Committee I at its 23rd meeting, Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, pp. 108–112.
14 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 63.
15 - Ibid. p. 64.
16 - Ibid.
17 - Ibid. p. 63.
18 - Ibid.
19 - Ibid. p. 110.
20 - Ibid. p. 109.
21 - Ibid. p. 202.
22 - On the conversion of merchant vessels into hospital ships, see the commentary on Article 22, section C.1.d.
23 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 202. On this issue, see also the commentary on Article 22, section C.1.d.
24 - See also the commentary on Article 22, para. 1940.
25 - The distinction between hospital ships and their lifeboats dates back to Article 6 of the 1868 Additional Articles. However, including until the 1907 Hague Convention (X), lifeboats were not expressly protected; their protection was provided for indirectly by Article 5, para. 3 of the 1907 Hague Convention (X), relating to marking. Article 26, with its clear language of ‘their’, only applies to the lifeboats of hospital ships, not to lifeboats of other categories of vessels. The latter are not entitled to specific protection under the Second Convention. See, however, Article 43(3).
26 - See the commentary on Article 22, section C.3.a.
27 - Mossop, p. 403.
28 - For the interpretation of the term ‘at sea’, see the commentary on Article 12, section D.2.
29 - See Colombos, pp. 99–111.
30 - According to Article 3 of the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), the breadth of the territorial sea may not extend beyond 12 nautical miles. Although the high seas in the technical sense cover only the sea areas that are not included in the exclusive economic zone (UNCLOS, Article 86), the freedom of the high seas also applies in the exclusive economic zone (UNCLOS, Article 58).
31 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011 p. 471.
32 - On ‘private’ hospital ships, see Articles 24 and 25. On the conversion of merchant vessels into hospital ships, see the commentary on Article 22, section D.2.
33 - Ibid. p. 286.
34 - See Additional Protocol I, Annex I, Regulations concerning Identification, Articles 6–9.
35 - For an overview of the military hospital ships in existence at the time of writing, see the commentary on Article 22, footnote 4. See also United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, para. 7.12.1.4, where it is stated that ‘U.S. military hospital ships have adhered to this recommendation by a large margin.’
37 - The Navy League of the United States, The Almanac of Seapower, 2003, p. 120. See also the US circular note of 16 November 1990 that was communicated prior to the outbreak of the 1991 Gulf War.
38 - Argentina: A.R.A. Bahia Paraiso with a length of 130 metres, a tonnage of 10,000 and the capacity to treat 100 wounded, and A.R.A. Almirante Irizar with a length of 119 metres and a tonnage of 11,811. United Kingdom: SS Uganda with a length of 164.5 metres, a tonnage of 16,907 and the capacity to receive 500 wounded and sick; HMS Herald, HMS Hecla, HMS Hydra each with a length of 79.3 metres, a tonnage of 2,898 and the capacity to receive 60–100 wounded and sick. See Sylvie-Stoyanka Junod, Protection of the Victims of Armed Conflict, Falkland-Malvinas Islands (1982): International Humanitarian Law and Humanitarian Action, ICRC, Geneva, 1985, pp. 24–25, at 25: ‘None of the hospital ships used during (this) conflict had a smaller gross tonnage, which shows not only respect on both sides for the provisions of the Convention, but also the pragmatism of the negotiators in 1949.’