Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2020 
Article 74 : Relief shipments: Exemption from charges and dues
Text of the provision *
(1) All relief shipments for prisoners of war shall be exempt from import, customs and other dues.
(2) Correspondence, relief shipments and authorized remittances of money addressed to prisoners of war or despatched by them through the post office, either direct or through the Information Bureaux provided for in Article 122 and the Central Prisoners of War Agency provided for in Article 123, shall be exempt from any postal dues, both in the countries of origin and destination, and in intermediate countries.
(3) If relief shipments intended for prisoners of war cannot be sent through the post office by reason of weight or for any other cause, the cost of transportation shall be borne by the Detaining Power in all the territories under its control. The other Powers party to the Convention shall bear the cost of transport in their respective territories.
(4) In the absence of special agreements between the Parties concerned, the costs connected with transport of such shipments, other than costs covered by the above exemption, shall be charged to the senders.
(5) The High Contracting Parties shall endeavour to reduce, so far as possible, the rates charged for telegrams sent by prisoners of war, or addressed to them.
* Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
3271  The purpose of this provision is to ensure that financial constraints are no impediment to the sending and receiving of correspondence by prisoners of war, or to their receiving relief supplies and remittances of money. This article is therefore a further articulation, and practical facilitation, of the principles underpinning Articles 63, 71 and 72 of the Third Convention, allowing prisoners of war to maintain such forms of interaction with the outside world.
3272  To achieve this objective, the High Contracting Parties agreed not to charge certain dues or fees that would otherwise be levied on correspondence and relief shipments, specifically ‘import, customs and other dues’ (taxes not corresponding to any service) and ‘postal dues’ (charges in exchange for a service). They also committed to carry the costs of transportation and relief shipments in certain circumstance and undertook to ‘endeavour to reduce’ telegram charges.
3273  The implementation of Article 74 inevitably entails a financial burden for the High Contracting Parties. In turn, it benefits, in monetary terms, both the persons and entities sending correspondence or relief shipments to prisoners of war, and the prisoners of war sending correspondence to the outside world.
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B. Historical background
3274  The principle that correspondence, postal parcels and money orders addressed to prisoners of war be exempt from custom duties and postal charges was first set forth in Article 16 of the 1899 Hague Regulations. [1] This rule was inspired by the experience of the 1870–71 Franco-Prussian War, during which mail was withheld from prisoners of war owing to their inability to pay postal charges.[2]
3275  This exemption from customs duties and postal charges reappeared in similar terms in Article 16 of the 1907 Hague Regulations and in Article 38 of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War,[3] but as yet did not exempt from charges any parcels sent to prisoners of war by means other than the postal service (such as by road haulage or privately owned railways).
3276  During the Second World War, the absence of such exemption created, as the ICRC observed after the war had ended, ‘a great many difficulties’.[4] This point was addressed in the draft conventions adopted by the 17th International Conference of the Red Cross in Stockholm in 1948, albeit initially only for relief shipments ‘conveyed by rail’, as far as countries of transit were concerned.[5] This matter has now been regulated in Article 74(3) in a more comprehensive way than in the Stockholm draft. In addition, paragraphs 4 and 5 of Article 74 are new.
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C. Paragraph 1: Relief shipments: exemption from import, customs and other dues
3277  Article 74(1) establishes a clear and comprehensive exemption for relief shipments from all import, customs and other dues that would otherwise be levied by the Parties to the conflict. The use of the term ‘all relief shipments’ is a broad reference to both the individual parcels and the collective shipments which prisoners of war are allowed to receive by post or any other means pursuant to Article 72.[6] This exemption applies no matter the origin of the relief shipments, or the nationality of the prisoners of war to whom they are addressed.
3278  The exemption from ‘import, customs and other dues’ includes exemption from a wide variety of duties and tariffs that would normally be levied. Customs and import duties refer to taxes levied by a State on goods entering its jurisdiction. In practice, the labels of ‘import’ and ‘customs’ duties may overlap.[7] Regardless of how a State labels a given tax, the wording ‘and other dues’ (nowadays, the term ‘duties’ is more commonly used) indicates that this is to be interpreted widely and that no tax whatsoever may be levied.
3279  Whereas paragraphs 2 and 3 explicitly address the responsibility of High Contracting Parties that are not party to the conflict, [8] paragraph 1 is silent on this matter, although it is phrased in such a way that it can be read as applying to all High Contracting Parties. In practice, States generally do not levy ‘import, customs and other dues’ on relief shipments merely transiting through their territory.
3280  The implementation of Article 74 in international armed conflicts since the end of the Second World War has resulted in some instances where parcels addressed to prisoners of war have been charged dues on the basis that ‘gift’ parcels are not ‘relief shipments’ and, as such, do not benefit from the exemption set down in Article 74(1). This is an incorrect interpretation of this provision, which must be understood to cover all individual parcels or collective shipments to prisoners of war, regardless of whether these items are identified as ‘gifts’.
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D. Paragraph 2: Exemption from postal dues
3281  Article 74(2) deals with three different ways in which prisoners of war may have contact with the outside world ‘through the post office’: (i) correspondence sent to or by the prisoners of war; (ii) relief shipments sent to them, whether individually or collectively; and (iii) authorized remittances of money sent to or by prisoners of war, whether individually or collectively.[9]
3282  Article 74(2) has a broad scope and has therefore been referred to as a ‘benevolent provision’.[10] Indeed, the provision applies regardless of whether these three forms of interaction between prisoners of war and the outside world are facilitated directly by the post office, i.e. without any intermediary, or by the information bureau (Article 122) or the Central Tracing Agency (Article 123). Further, for the exemption under Article 74(2) to apply, it is immaterial whether the postal services themselves use ground, air or maritime forms of transport.[11] However, according to Article 16(2) of the Universal Postal Convention, air surcharges constitute an exception to the general principle of exemption from postal charges owed to prisoners of war and civilian internees. Nonetheless, such fees are paid by the designated operators to airlines for their services and not by the sender or the recipient. Hence, individuals still do not bear any cost under these circumstances.
3283  Article 74(2) provides that all forms of interaction covered by this paragraph ‘shall be exempt from any postal dues, both in the countries of origin and destination, and in intermediate countries’, i.e. the postal services must transport these goods without imposing any charge on either the sender or the recipient. Through the inclusion of the term ‘intermediate countries’, both the Parties to an international armed conflict and the High Contracting Parties not party to the conflict may also have obligations on the basis of this provision.[12]
3284  The exemption from postal dues is also reflected in Article 16 of the latest version of the Universal Postal Convention.[13] That Convention was drafted to take into account the present provision, in that it sets forth certain provisions that apply specifically to prisoners of war.[14] At the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, the Drafting Committee decided against including an express reference to the Universal Postal Convention in the present article.[15] This was done because not all countries had adhered to special arrangements made under its framework regarding parcels and remittances of money.[16] Thus, Article 74(2) binds all High Contracting Parties to grant exemption of postal dues, regardless of their obligations (or lack thereof) under the Universal Postal Convention. The foregoing remains without prejudice to the authority of the United Nations Security Council to take binding measures which could include, for example, the suspension of postal relations with a given country under Article 41 of the UN Charter.
3285  As far as the Universal Postal Convention is concerned, there are certain conditions that govern the implementation of this exemption and which may only be invoked by States party to that Convention. These include Article 16, paragraph 2.4, of the Convention, which specifies that:
Parcels shall be admitted free of postage up to a weight of 5 kilogrammes. The weight limit shall be increased to 10 kilogrammes in the case of parcels the contents of which cannot be split up and of parcels addressed to a camp or the prisoners’ representatives there (‘hommes de confiance’) for distribution to the prisoners.
3286  In addition, the Universal Postal Union’s Regulations to the Convention provide for the implementation of Article 16 of the Universal Postal Convention in greater detail, including by specifying how items to be sent free of postal charges should be marked,[17] and by exempting from any liability the Union’s member countries and designated operators with regard to prisoner-of-war parcels.[18]
3287  Contrary to the Third Convention, which applies regardless of the mode of transport used by the postal services, Article 16, paragraph 2.1, of the Universal Postal Convention allows payment for ‘air surcharges’ to be levied. Military manuals have reflected this in their interpretation of Article 74(2).[19] Air surcharges are specific fees paid by postal operators (legally termed ‘designated operators’ in the Universal Postal Convention) to air carriers for their services, and are charged by such air carriers to recoup, for example, the cost of fuel and security expenses associated with air travel. Nevertheless, such charges are not borne by the sender or the recipient of the postal item, but instead by the postal operator itself.
3288  Article 74(2) is based on the assumption that the postal services are owned and operated by the High Contracting Parties themselves. Since 1949, however, a number of countries have privatized their postal operators. Nevertheless, the treaty obligation of that provision remains applicable solely to the High Contracting Parties. The High Contracting Party concerned thus needs to require privatized postal operators to respect paragraph 2 when carrying items to and from prisoners of war. Without prejudice to any applicable inter-operator remuneration provisions as outlined in the Universal Postal Convention or its Regulations, whether such operators receive any other financial compensation on this point is a decision to be made at the national level.
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E. Paragraph 3: Cost of transportation of relief shipments which cannot be sent through the post office
3289  Article 74(3) applies in one particular scenario, i.e. ‘if relief shipments intended for prisoners of war cannot be sent through the post office by reason of weight or for any other cause’. If these circumstances are not met, the attribution of financial liability provided for in these paragraphs cannot be invoked. Thus, if one can send a particular relief shipment through the post office but chooses not to (for example, because a private transport company is able to deliver the parcel quicker), this paragraph does not apply.
3290  Reasons for which relief shipments may not be sent through the post office could include the fact that the shipments exceed the weight requirements set down in the Universal Postal Convention,[20] the financial reality that, especially for significant amounts of cargo, the postal services may not be the cheapest option, or the possibility that the postal service is disrupted or overburdened because of an armed conflict. In such situations, Parties to an armed conflict and relief societies have, historically, made alternative arrangements to ensure that prisoners of war receive relief items. It is the costs associated with such alternative arrangements that are covered by this paragraph.[21]
3291  Regardless of why the postal services may not be able (or may not be authorized) to accept the transport of certain shipments, whether individual or collective in the sense of Article 72, senders will need to identify other options, for example private transport companies. In such cases, ‘the cost of transportation shall be borne by the Detaining Power’. This provision applies regardless of the mode of transport used by the said private companies, whether by air, rail or sea. Still, reason dictates that the chosen mode of transport will not be unreasonably more expensive than the alternatives and will preferably be coordinated in advance with the Detaining Power to avoid disputes in this regard.
3292  The Detaining Power is not liable for the costs of transportation for the entire trajectory between sender and beneficiary. Its obligation is limited to the transport ‘in all the territories under its control’. Territories ‘under its control’ include those it occupies.
3293  The cost of transportation in territories not under the Detaining Power’s control must be borne by the other High Contracting Parties as far as transport ‘in their respective territories’ is concerned. Thus, through this provision, all High Contracting Parties to the Third Convention may have financial obligations, regardless of whether they are party to a given international armed conflict. As in the case of items covered by Article 74(2), this will be relevant in the event that the relief shipments transit through their territory. It is acknowledged that the practical implementation of the foregoing may raise complex challenges.
3294  Where Article 74(3) applies, transport will be carried out by private or semi-private companies. However, this fact remains without prejudice to the fact that only the High Contracting Party has the treaty obligation to bear the cost of transportation through its respective territories.[22] In countries where transport facilities are not State-owned, the High Contracting Party concerned thus needs to require such privatized services to respect this provision. Whether such services receive any financial compensation on this point is a decision to be made at the national level. The Third Convention provides no guidance in this regard, nor with regard to the arrangements that need to be in place between various High Contracting Parties in case of transit through the territory of several States.
3295  Furthermore, in the relevant territories responsibility for the cost of transport will always rest with the Detaining Power or the High Contracting Party, regardless of whether the means of transport is private, semi-private or owned by the State. Thus, if exemption from carriage charges is not granted in a country where it should be, the State in question, and not any individual private company, must be held responsible.
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F. Paragraph 4: Costs charged to senders
3296  Article 74(4) was added in the draft submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference ‘in order to clarify a point which has created many difficulties’.[23] This paragraph allows for certain expenses connected with the transport of relief shipments to be charged to the senders, and only them, i.e. not to the persons receiving the shipments or to any other Party involved. Thus, it constitutes an exception to the overall aim of Article 74, which is to ensure that financial constraints of the types covered by Article 74 do not prevent prisoners of war from receiving and sending correspondence, relief shipments and remittances.
3297  Costs that may be covered by paragraph 4 would be those charged by a State that is not a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions and that is not, therefore, bound by Article 74. None currently exists. Furthermore, this provision arguably covers sea or air travel that takes place beyond the territory of a High Contracting Party. Indeed, for those portions of the trip, the exemption of Article 74(3) does not attribute any financial liability to the High Contracting Parties.
3298  Through a special agreement in the sense of Article 6, the Parties concerned may reach an alternative arrangement that would avoid senders having to bear such expenses. Given that the overarching purpose of this article is to ensure that financial constraints do not prevent prisoners of war from sending and receiving correspondence and relief, such special arrangements are encouraged.[24] Such agreements may never attribute to the senders the costs that are exempted on the basis of Article 74(1)–(3).[25]
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G. Paragraph 5: Reduction of telegram rates
1. The rule
3299  The appearance of Article 74(5) was driven by the importance of telegraphic services in the Second World War, when the telegram became, in certain circumstances, the only means of communication capable of reaching prisoners of war.[26] Despite the importance of telegrams as a means of communication, the rates charged for telegraphic services often proved prohibitively expensive, given the limited financial means of many prisoners of war.[27] During the Second World War, the ICRC sometimes paid these charges.[28] Accordingly, the importance of recognizing telegraphic services as a complement to the postal system and preventing financial constraints from hampering their use was emphasized in the preparatory work for this provision.[29] Against this background, Article 74(5) results from a suggestion included in the draft conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference. In view of the experience of the Second World War, this proposal explicitly deviated from the rule in Article 38 of the 1929 Convention.[30]
3300  As indicated by the word ‘endeavour’, paragraph 5 does not establish a mandatory obligation to reduce rates charged for telegrams sent by or to prisoners of war. This was considered difficult ‘on the grounds that most cable companies are privately owned’.[31] Nevertheless, the provision compels all High Contracting Parties at least to take steps to reduce these rates to the extent that doing so is possible. This obligation is indicated by the use of the imperative ‘shall’.
3301  Owing to the possibility of abuses and the difficulty of monitoring matters efficiently, it may not be possible to reduce the cost of telecommunications sent to prisoners of war from friends and family members, unless the reduction is applied selectively to certain recognized aid societies through which such telecommunications are conducted.[32] Indeed, historically, prisoners of war have often used telecommunication methods provided by aid societies with whom they have contact. This route is of practical relevance for the efforts required by this provision, as High Contracting Parties may opt to fulfil their obligation herein by reducing, as far as possible, telecommunication rates for aid societies such as the ICRC.[33] This kind of reduction may also partially respond to the provision in Article 124 that national information bureaux and the Central Tracing Agency will, so far as possible, enjoy exemption from telegraphic charges or, at least, greatly reduced rates.
3302  Measures to comply with Article 74(5) are best taken in times of peace, as telecommunication agreements between opposing belligerents may be more difficult to put in place quickly during armed conflict.[34] Peacetime efforts to decrease the cost of telecommunications for prisoners of war have included the Conference’s proposal to reduce the cost through a system of grouping of messages;[35] Italy’s call, at the time of signature of the Geneva Conventions, for the telecommunication departments of the High Contracting Parties to collaborate to reduce the cost of prisoners of war’s telegrams;[36] and the 75 per cent reduction contained in Article 64 of the 1958 International Telegraph Regulations.
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2. Implementation by the International Telecommunication Union
3303  Implementation of Article 74(5) has primarily been conducted through the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its associated treaties.[37] Of these, the key instrument governing international telecommunications at the time of the drafting of the Geneva Conventions was the 1947 International Telecommunication Convention, which made no express reference to any special arrangements for prisoners of war. Following the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, and on the basis of a proposal submitted by Switzerland and supported by the ICRC, Article 74(5) of the Third Convention was implemented by the 1958 International Telegraph Regulations, which replaced the 1947 International Telecommunication Convention. Article 64 of the 1958 Regulations addresses ‘Telegrams concerning Persons Protected in Time of War by the Geneva Conventions of 12 August, 1949’,[38] and, pursuant to this article, State members of the ITU agreed to a 75 per cent reduction of the ordinary rates for telegrams addressed to or sent by prisoners of war.
3304  Article 64 of the 1958 Regulations marked the peak of the implementation of the obligation contained in Article 74(5).[39] When the Regulations were revised at the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference in Geneva in 1973, the 75 per cent reduction for prisoners of war was removed,[40] and the remaining reference to ‘telegrams concerning persons protected in time of war’ was subsequently deleted in the next revision of the Regulations in 1988.
3305  Concurrently, the use of telegrams as a form of telecommunication declined, as illustrated by the progressive phasing out of the term ‘telegram’ from the relevant international legal framework. The 1973 Telegraph Regulations were folded into the broader 1988 International Telecommunications Regulations, and when these were subsequently updated in 2012, the term ‘telegram’ was removed entirely. Moreover, many countries have not retained the capability to transmit and receive telegrams.
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3. Contemporary telecommunication and prisoners of war
3306  As technology has advanced, telegrams have mostly or even completely been replaced by forms of communication that are faster and more interactive, such as telephone calls, video calls, recorded messages and email.[41] Article 74(5), however, only speaks of ‘telegrams’, and no solid legal basis exists to transpose the obligation of this provision, applicable to the mode of communication known and deemed relevant in 1949, to other means of communication.
3307  In view of the aim of Article 74, however, situations in which correspondence by mail proves ineffective or insufficiently timely, and recourse to speedier communication is permitted under Article 71(2),[42] the High Contracting Parties are advised to consider taking steps to reduce the impact of financial constraints on prisoners of war’s access to more modern means of telecommunication.[43] Doing so is particularly important in view of the reality that postal communication is frequently disrupted or delayed in times of armed conflict.[44]
3308  The privatization of telecommunication services does not modify the High Contracting Parties’ responsibilities under this provision.[45]
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Select bibliography
Pilloud, Claude, ‘Les Conventions de Genève et les communications télégraphiques’, Revue internationale de la Croix-Rouge, Vol. 41, No. 481, January 1959, pp. 9–19.
Spencer, John H., ‘The Franking Privilege for Postal Communications with Prisoners of War’, American Journal of International Law, Vol. 35, No. 2, April 1941, pp. 365–371.

1 - Article 16 of the 1899 Hague Regulations read, in relevant part: Letters, money orders, and valuables, as well as postal parcels destined for the prisoners of war or dispatched by them, shall be free of all postal duties both in the countries of origin and destination, as well as in those they pass through. Gifts and relief in kind for prisoners of war shall be admitted free of all duties of entry and others, as well as of payments for carriage by the Government railways.
2 - Spencer, pp. 365–371, at 366.
3 - Article 38 of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War read, in relevant part: Letters and remittances of money or valuables, as well as postal parcels addressed to prisoners of war, or despatched by them, either directly or through the intermediary of the information bureau mentioned in Article 77, shall be exempt from all postal charges in the countries of origin and destination and in the countries through which they pass. Presents and relief in kind intended for prisoners of war shall also be exempt from all import or other duties, as well as any charges for carriage on railways operated by the State. Prisoners may, in cases of recognized urgency, be authorized to send telegrams on payment of the usual charges. See also Maurice Bretonnière, L’application de la Convention de Genève aux prisonniers français en Allemagne durant la seconde guerre mondiale (typewritten thesis), Paris, 1949, pp. 238–239.
4 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 191.
5 - Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, draft article 64, pp. 77–78: ‘Relief shipments intended for prisoners of war and which, by reason of their weight or of any other cause, cannot be sent through the post office, shall benefit by free transport in all the territory under the control of the Detaining Power. If conveyed by rail, they shall also benefit by free transport in the territories of the other Powers party to the Convention.’ See also Report of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, pp. 89–90.
6 - For an understanding of these terms, see the commentary on Article 72, para. 3231. Under the system of Article 38 of the 1929 Convention, only ‘presents and relief in kind’ and not collective relief for prisoners of war, were exempt from ‘all import or other duties’; for a discussion, see Gustav Rasmussen, Code de prisonniers de guerre : Commentaire de la Convention du 27 juillet 1929 relative au traitement des prisonniers de Guerre, Levin & Munksgaard, Copenhagen, 1931, p. 30. This was modified at various stages of the drafting process to ultimately become simply ‘all relief shipments’ in the present article; see Report of the Preliminary Conference of National Societies of 1946, p. 90; Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, pp. 190–192; Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 198; and Draft Conventions adopted by the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 77, the last two explicitly covering ‘individual parcels and collective relief consignments’ (as in Article 72).
7 - Peter Van den Bossche and Werner Zdouc, The Law and Policy of the World Trade Organization, 4th edition, Cambridge University Press, 2017, p. 417: ‘Generally speaking, a customs duty or tariff on imports is a financial charge or tax on imported goods, due because of their importation.’
8 - Article 74(2) addresses ‘intermediate countries’, and Article 74(3) addresses ‘the other Powers party to the Convention’; for a discussion, see paras 3283 and 3293 of this commentary, respectively.
9 - These are regulated by Articles 71, 72 and 63(1), respectively.
10 - Spencer, pp. 365–371, at 365.
11 - See Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, pp. 25 and 190–192.
12 - Howard S. Levie, Prisoners of War in International Armed Conflict, International Legal Studies, U.S. Naval War College, Vol. 59, 1978, pp. 97–212, at 151.
13 - The Universal Postal Convention, as a non-permanent treaty ‘renewed’ every four years (i.e. at Congresses) by the Universal Postal Union, was adopted in its current version by the 2016 Istanbul Congress and last amended at the 2019 Third Extraordinary Congress (Geneva, Switzerland). Its provisions on exemption from postal charges for prisoners or war and civilian internees may be traced back to Article 37 of the Universal Postal Convention adopted at the 1952 Brussels Congress.
14 - Article 16(2) of the current (i.e. 2020) version of the Universal Postal Convention states: Prisoners of war and civilian internees 2.1. Letter-post items, postal parcels and postal payment services items addressed to or sent by prisoners of war, either direct or through the offices mentioned in the Regulations of the Convention and of the Postal Payment Services Agreement, shall be exempt from all postal charges, with the exception of air surcharges. Belligerents apprehended and interned in a neutral country shall be classed with prisoners of war proper so far as the application of the foregoing provisions is concerned. 2.2. The provisions set out under 2.1 shall also apply to letter-post items, postal parcels and postal payment services items originating in other countries and addressed to or sent by civilian internees as defined by the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the protection of civilian persons in time of war, either direct or through the offices mentioned in the Regulations of the Convention and of the Postal Payment Services Agreement. 2.3. The offices mentioned in the Regulations of the Convention and of the Postal Payment Services Agreement shall also enjoy exemption from postal charges in respect of letter-post items, postal parcels and postal payment services items which concern the persons referred to under 2.1 and 2.2, which they send or receive, either direct or as intermediaries. 2.4. Parcels shall be admitted free of postage up to a weight of 5 kilogrammes. The weight limit shall be increased to 10 kilogrammes in the case of parcels the contents of which cannot be split up and of parcels addressed to a camp or the prisoners’ representatives there (‘hommes de confiance’) for distribution to the prisoners. 2.5. In the accounting between designated operators, rates shall not be allocated for service parcels and for prisoner-of-war and civilian internee parcels, apart from the air conveyance dues applicable to air parcels. See also Universal Postal Union, Convention Manual, International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union, Bern, Vol. I, 2018, p. 27.
15 - See Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, pp. 285–286, 369 and 569.
16 - At the time of writing, the Universal Postal Union (UPU) comprised 192 Member Countries (for historical operational reasons, the UPU still has two non-sovereign territories as part of its membership, which is why its members are called ‘Member Countries’ and not ‘Member States’). States party to the Third Geneva Convention but not presently members of the UPU are Andorra, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and Palau. Palestine is an observer to the Universal Postal Union.
17 - For example, Article 16-003 of the current Regulations to the Convention and Final Protocol addresses the application of exemption from postal charges to bodies concerned with prisoners of war and civilian internees; and Article 16-002 of the same Regulations addresses the marking of items sent free of postal charges.
18 - Universal Postal Union, Convention Manual, International Bureau of the Universal Postal Union, Bern, Vol. I, 2018, p. 105.
19 - See e.g. Germany, Military Manual, 2013, para. 838, and United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, pp. 595–596, para. 9.20.4.3.
20 - Article 16, para. 2.4, of the 2016 Universal Postal Convention sets down the weight requirements for items sent to and from prisoners of war.
21 - For further details concerning arrangements for free carriage by rail during the Second World War, see ICRC, Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross on its Activities during the Second World War (September 1, 1939–June 30, 1947), Volume III: Relief Activities, ICRC, Geneva, May 1948, pp. 175–177, and, with regard to maritime transport, pp. 157–158.
22 - See Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, pp. 285–286.
23 - Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, pp. 98–99.
24 - Indeed, the Drafting Commission for this article stressed that it would be desirable for relief supplies conveyed by maritime transport to be carried free of charge; see Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 25.
25 - Whereas Article 74(3) only speaks of ‘the above exemption’ in the sense of Article 74, the Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, p. 98, spoke of ‘above exemptions’ in the plural. It is unclear why this was modified.
26 - Pilloud, p. 13. See also 18th International Conference of the Red Cross, Toronto, 1952, Res. 23, Telegraphic Communications (War Victims), which explains the focus on the use of telegraphic services by reference to the speed of telegrams: ‘considering that information concerning war victims should be speedily transmitted and that the telegraph appears to be the most suitable channel to effect this’. See also Pilloud, pp. 9–19.
27 - Resolution 9 of the 1949 Diplomatic Conference noted that the cost of telegrams was ‘often prohibitive’ for prisoners of war; Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. I, p. 362. See also Pilloud, p. 9.
28 - Pilloud, p. 13.
29 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 192.
30 - Draft Conventions submitted to the 1948 Stockholm Conference, pp. 98–99, where the proposal read: ‘The High Contracting Parties shall endeavour to reduce, as far as possible, the charges for cables sent to prisoners of war, or addressed to them.’ Article 38(3) of the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War read: ‘Prisoners may, in case of recognized urgency, be authorized to send telegrams on payment of the usual charges.’
31 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, p. 192.
32 - Pilloud, p. 15.
33 - Regarding the link between telecommunication rates for the ICRC and the telecommunication rates for prisoners of war, see 20th International Conference of the Red Cross, Vienna, 1965, Res. 16, Telecommunications Facilities for the Red Cross, which regretted that the expenses of the communications of the National Societies and the ICRC diminished the already insufficient resources available to the Movement for aid to conflict and disaster victims, and accordingly considered that the telecommunications of National Societies and the ICRC should benefit from priority at the lowest possible cost.
34 - Pilloud, p. 18.
35 - As initiated by Resolution 9 of the 1949 Diplomatic Conference, which stated: Whereas Article 71 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War of August 12, 1949, provides that prisoners of war who have been without news for a long period, or who are unable to receive news from their next of kin or to give them news by the ordinary postal route, as well as those who are at a great distance from their home, shall be permitted to send telegrams, the fees being charged against the prisoners of war’s accounts with the Detaining Power or paid in the currency at their disposal, and that prisoners of war shall likewise benefit by these facilities in cases of urgency; and whereas to reduce the cost, often prohibitive, of such telegrams or cables, it appears necessary that some method of grouping messages should be introduced whereby a series of short specimen messages concerning personal health, health of relatives at home, schooling, finance, etc., could be drawn up and numbered, for use by prisoners of war in the aforesaid circumstances, the Conference, therefore, requests the International Committee of the Red Cross to prepare a series of specimen messages covering these requirements and to submit them to the High Contracting Parties for their approval. Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. I, p. 362. A proposal to attach an annex to the Convention in this respect was not adopted. See ibid. Vol. II-A, p. 335, and Vol. II-B, pp. 513–514.
36 - Ibid. Vol. II-A, p. 349.
37 - See e.g. 18th International Conference of the Red Cross, Toronto, 1952, Res. 23, Telegraphic Communications (War Victims), which calls on the next conference of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to take all necessary steps to harmonize the regulations on telegraph communication with the provisions of the 1949 Geneva Conventions towards a full exemption or at least a considerable reduction in the cost of telegrams concerning war victims. See also the 20th International Conference of the Red Cross, Vienna, 1965, Res. 16, Telecommunications Facilities for the Red Cross, which asks the ICRC to make continued efforts to reduce the telecommunication costs of the ICRC and National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, in particular by approaching the ITU.
38 - For a discussion of the implementation of Article 74(5), see ITU, Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference, Document 236, Summary Record of the 17th Meeting, 7 November 1958.
39 - For an overview of the efforts by Switzerland and the ICRC that ultimately resulted in Article 64 of the 1958 Telegraph Regulations, see Pilloud, pp. 15–19.
40 - Article 4.1.1.4 of, and the associated annex to, the 1973 Telegraph Regulations stated that ‘telegrams concerning persons protected in time of war by the Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949’ were a class of telegram that ‘shall be obligatory in the international public telegram service’. However, the 75 per cent reduction of rates contained in the 1958 Regulations no longer featured.
41 - On these more modern means of communication, see the commentary on Article 71, para. 3186.
42 - The occasions when prisoners of war are entitled to use means of communication that are faster or more effective than post are set down in Article 71(2); see the commentary on Article 71, section D.
43 - Telecommunication in this regard is defined by Article 2.2 of the 2012 International Telecommunications Regulations as ‘any transmission, emission or reception of signs, signals, writing, images and sounds or intelligence of any nature by wire, radio, optical or other electromagnetic systems’.
44 - Reports of the disruption of postal services to prisoners of war in times of conflict are common. Regarding such disruption during the 1861–1865 American Civil War; see William Evans Sherlock Flory, Prisoners of War: A Study in the Development of International Law, American Council on Public Affairs, University of Michigan Press, 1942, p. 101. On the interruption of postal communication for prisoners of war during the Second World War, see Pilloud, pp. 10 and 12. For further information on the disruption of postal services during the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq conflict, see UN Security Council, Prisoners of War in Iran and Iraq: The report of a mission dispatched by the Secretary-General, January 1985, UN Doc. S/16962, 22 February 1985, para. 280, and Report of the mission dispatched by the Secretary-General on the situation of prisoners of war in the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq, August 1988, UN Doc. S/20147, 24 August 1988, para. 45.
45 - The need to ensure that the communication rights of prisoners of war remain unhampered by the varying degrees of privatization of services was raised during the preparatory work for the present article, though in the context of the transport of correspondence and relief shipments rather than telecommunication; see e.g. Preliminary Documents submitted by the ICRC to the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, pp. 116–117. The same point was raised during drafting of the 75 per cent reduction rate for telegrams contained in Article 64 of the 1958 Telegraph Regulations, when the delegate of Switzerland pointed out that ‘private operating agencies granted reductions in telegraph rates to the press which were engaged in commercial activities, and that they should therefore be prepared to grant greater reductions where victims of war were concerned’; Administrative Telegraph and Telephone Conference, Geneva, 1958, Document 236, Summary Record of the 17th Meeting, p. 3. In this vein, Resolution XVI of the 20th International Conference of the Red Cross, Vienna, 1965, requested National Red Cross Societies to approach private telecommunication organizations in their countries regarding granting the lowest possible charges for telecommunication in times of conflict or disaster, and recommended that governments consider appropriate ways and means by which the costs of the Red Cross for telecommunication in such emergencies could be reduced or covered.