Treaties, States Parties and Commentaries
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Commentary of 2020 
Article 29 : Hygiene
Text of the provision*
(1) The Detaining Power shall be bound to take all sanitary measures necessary to ensure the cleanliness and healthfulness of camps and to prevent epidemics.
(2) Prisoners of war shall have for their use, day and night, conveniences which conform to the rules of hygiene and are maintained in a constant state of cleanliness. In any camps in which women prisoners of war are accommodated, separate conveniences shall be provided for them.
(3) Also, apart from the baths and showers with which the camps shall be furnished, prisoners of war shall be provided with sufficient water and soap for their personal toilet and for washing their personal laundry; the necessary installations, facilities and time shall be granted them for that purpose.
* Paragraph numbers have been added for ease of reference.
Reservations or declarations
None
Contents

A. Introduction
2184  Article 29 details the hygiene measures the Detaining Power must take to fulfil its general obligation under Article 15 to provide for the maintenance of prisoners of war and for the medical attention required by their state of health. These measures may also contribute to compliance, pursuant to Article 13, with the general obligation of humane treatment, based on respect for prisoners’ inherent human dignity, and with the prohibition of any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war in its custody.
2185  The obligations laid down in Article 29 are essentially aimed at preventing disease by promoting hygiene in prisoner-of-war camps. The first paragraph contains a generic obligation on the Detaining Power to take all sanitary measures necessary to keep camp facilities clean, to maintain the health of prisoners of war, and to prevent epidemics. Doing so is in the Detaining Power’s own interest, as it will benefit the camp population as a whole, prisoners and personnel of the Detaining Power alike. The second and third paragraphs address specific obligations of the Detaining Power vis-à-vis prisoners, namely the provision of hygienic and clean conveniences and washing and laundry facilities. These are important considerations for a Detaining Power when planning a prisoner-of-war camp.
2186  The obligations in Article 29 form part of a package of conditions necessary for maintaining prisoners of war in good health dealt with also by other provisions of the Convention. These are: the selection of healthy locations for camps, taking into account climatic conditions (Article 22); adequate shelter, protected from dampness and adequately heated and lit, with sufficient bedding and blankets (Article 25); food and drinking water sufficient in quality and quantity (Article 26); adequate clothing (Article 27); medical attention to and regular medical inspections of prisoners (Articles 30 and 31); and – where prisoners of war are used for labour in the camp – safe and healthy working conditions (Articles 49–57).
2187  Article 29 has an equivalent provision in Article 85 of the Fourth Convention, which contains similar obligations related to hygiene in internment camps for persons protected under that Convention.
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B. Historical background
2188  During the First World War, States adopted bilateral agreements containing rules governing, among other things, the hygiene of prisoner-of-war camps.[1] Subsequently, the 1929 Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War dealt with such matters in Article 13. The essential structure and content of Article 29 is similar to its counterpart in the 1929 Convention, which had a generic first paragraph setting out the purposes of the measures to be taken, namely to ensure the cleanliness and ‘salubrity’ (i.e. healthfulness) of camps and to prevent epidemics; a second paragraph dealing with the cleanliness of ‘conveniences’ (i.e. toilet facilities); and a third paragraph requiring the provision of baths and showers and sufficient water for prisoners to wash themselves with.
2189  The need to provide soap for both personal hygiene and laundry, and to grant the necessary facilities for those purposes, was introduced at the ICRC’s suggestion by the Conference of Government Experts in 1947.[2] The second sentence of Article 29(2), whereby the Detaining Power must provide separate conveniences for women prisoners of war, was added during the Diplomatic Conference in 1949, based on a proposal by the UK delegation.[3] The requirement in Article 29(3) that prisoners of war be granted the necessary ‘time’ for personal toilet and personal laundry was also added by the Conference.
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C. Paragraph 1: Necessary sanitary measures
1. Sanitary measures
2190  While the Convention does not define the term ‘sanitary’, its meaning needs to be understood as ‘relating to conditions affecting hygiene and health’.[4] This interpretation is confirmed by Article 29’s stated purposes of ensuring the cleanliness and healthfulness of camps and of preventing epidemics. These purposes are closely interrelated; unclean conditions are not conducive to preserving the health of prisoners of war.[5] Furthermore, they can cause an infectious disease outbreak which may further develop into an epidemic, i.e. the ‘occurrence in a community or region of cases of an illness, specific health-related behaviour, or other health-related events clearly in excess of normal expectancy’.[6]
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2. Necessary sanitary measures
2191  Besides the measures for ensuring personal hygiene and laundry prescribed in Article 29(2) and (3), what sanitary measures are ‘necessary’ in a given context must be assessed on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the size of the camp, the number of prisoners of war interned there (overcrowding naturally posing further challenges to maintaining hygienic conditions) and the particular health needs of the camp population. The site selected for the camp, as explicitly recognized by Article 22, linked with the type of detention facility, i.e. whether it is a temporary holding facility or a more permanent camp, will also have an impact on hygienic conditions,[7] as will climatic conditions. This shows the close connection between the hygienic conditions in a camp, which are governed by Article 29, and environmental conditions, such as geographic location, climate and construction materials, which are the subject of Article 22.
2192  While deficiencies in site selection and the resulting lack of cleanliness and healthfulness addressed by Article 22 may in some circumstances be mitigated by the sanitary measures prescribed by Article 29, this may not always be the case. If it is not, Article 22(2) requires that the affected prisoners of war be removed and the camp constructed elsewhere.
2193  Therefore, besides taking the necessary sanitary measures in accordance with Article 29, implementing the obligations under Article 22 is indispensable to ensuring the cleanliness and healthfulness of a camp. Indeed, environmental conditions may exacerbate the difficulties a Detaining Power may face in meeting basic hygiene standards owing to limited resources or infrastructure. Despite these constraints, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, examining claims relating to prisoner-of-war camps during the 1998–2000 international armed conflict between the two countries, found that the persistence of unhygienic conditions in some camps, which seriously endangered the health of prisoners of war in violation of Article 13, could lead to the conclusion that not all necessary sanitary measures had been taken.[8]
2194  In this sense, Article 13 represents a minimum yardstick for determining the necessity of sanitary measures, the absence of which could cause death or seriously endanger the health of prisoners of war, even when acknowledging the general resource constraints of a Detaining Power. In the specific circumstances of the armed conflict between Eritrea and Ethiopia, the Claims Commission found, for instance, that the persistence of conditions such as unclean sleeping quarters, clothes and dormitories infested with lice, water contaminated by human sewage, dirty food and a high incidence of diseases such as diarrhoea and tuberculosis, resulting in the deaths of some prisoners, indicated a failure of the Detaining Powers to take all the necessary sanitary measures.[9] If the Detaining Power finds itself unable to undertake the necessary sanitary measures, the considerations in section C.5.e of the Introduction (law of State responsibility – paras. 110-115) are applicable here mutatis mutandis. In line with its own operational procedures, and without prejudice to the Detaining Power’s international legal obligations, the ICRC may also be involved in assisting the detaining authorities in this field.[10]
2195  Unlike Article 22, Article 29 does not explicitly provide for the closure of a camp and the removal of the camp population where unclean and unhygienic conditions are not caused by environmental conditions but solely by a failure to take the necessary sanitary measures. While implementation of the obligations under Article 29 would usually require improvements to be made within an existing camp, rather than closing the entire camp and moving it and its population elsewhere, the categorical wording of the obligation to take ‘all’ necessary sanitary measures does not exclude the possibility that in extreme circumstances such a measure may be required under Article 29. Whether such circumstances are present cannot be determined in the abstract. In the ICRC’s experience, this can only be assessed on the seriousness of the sanitary problems and the realistic capacity of the authorities to adequately remedy them within the existing camp infrastructure, as well as on a cost-benefit analysis of the available alternatives.
2196  The wilful omission to implement the necessary sanitary measures pursuant to Article 29 are not as such listed as a grave breach of the Convention. However, depending on the circumstances and the resulting hygienic conditions, such omission may amount to the grave breach of wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, of inhuman treatment and even torture or wilful killing.
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3. Practical examples of sanitary measures
2197  During visits to prisoner-of-war camps since the entry into force of the Convention, the ICRC has, for instance, regularly impressed upon the Detaining Power the necessity of:
– Cleaning and disinfection: regular cleaning and disinfection of sleeping quarters, kitchens, showers and toilet facilities, and the supply of sufficient quantities of cleaning products and equipment for this purpose. Prisoners of war may be requested to assist in such tasks.[11]
– Vector control, i.e. control of living organisms that can transmit infectious diseases between humans or from animals to humans:[12] taking additional protective measures in the event of the proliferation of vectors such as mosquitos, bedbugs, lice or fleas, which may transmit bacteria, viruses and parasites from one infected person (or animal) to another and cause vector-borne diseases such as malaria, dengue or yellow fever.[13] Such measures may consist of supplying mosquito netting or, if necessary, spraying surfaces, or constructing additional drainage where stagnant water has been identified as a breeding ground for such vectors.
– Early detection of communicable diseases and administration of vaccinations, where necessary:[14] taking measures to prevent an epidemic, such as in the case of the emergence of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, cholera, malaria, dengue, yellow fever or smallpox. In this regard, there is a close connection between Article 29 and Article 30, the latter of which obliges the Detaining Power to separate prisoners of war suffering from communicable diseases from their non-affected comrades. Another necessary measure to prevent the spread of an infectious disease is the early detection of suspected cases, including by conducting, in accordance with Article 31, medical examinations of all prisoners upon their arrival in a camp.[15] Lastly, vaccinations must be administered, where necessary, bearing in mind that under Article 30 the Detaining Power is free to decide whether immunizations are undertaken by the camp infirmary or by an external medical facility.
– Promotion of hygienic behaviour: raising awareness among prisoners of war of potential health risks, including communicable diseases, and encouraging hygienic behaviour. In this respect, it is possible even to require prisoners to wash or shower, provided there is no risk to their health, if this is necessary to maintain hygiene and cleanliness in the camp as a whole or to prevent epidemics.[16]
2198  Some State military manuals and non-binding technical tools produced by humanitarian organizations such as the ICRC provide further guidance on measures that can be taken to ensure a clean and healthy detention environment and prevent epidemics.[17]
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D. Paragraph 2: Clean and hygienic conveniences
1. Meaning of ‘conveniences’
2199  Article 29(2) enshrines one of the key obligations of the Detaining Power in maintaining cleanliness and hygiene in prisoner-of-war camps and in preventing disease, namely to provide hygienic and clean ‘conveniences’ accessible day and night, i.e. 24 hours. In its ordinary meaning, the term ‘convenience’ refers to ‘freedom from effort or difficulty’ or ‘a useful or helpful device or situation’, but also more narrowly to a ‘public toilet’.[18]
2200  This paragraph has an equivalent in Article 85(3) of the Fourth Convention, which uses the slightly different terminology of ‘sanitary conveniences’, which has been understood to mean primarily toilet facilities, in conformity with the present provision. This understanding has been confirmed by some military manuals and academic commentators.[19]
2201  The mandatory character of this paragraph, evident from the use of the word ‘shall’, also makes it clear that the provision of toilet facilities is not merely something that is useful, easy or suitable for prisoners of war, but essential. Thus, the term ‘conveniences’ must not be interpreted to mean that the provision of such facilities is in any way optional or a recommendation rather than a strict obligation.
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2. Types of facilities
2202  In terms of quality of construction, Article 29(2) does not specify the type of facilities that the Detaining Power must provide. There is a wide variety of possibilities, including: open defecation in a delimited area; excavated dry pit latrines; flush toilets; urinals; chemical toilets; or receptacles such as soil buckets or sanitary pails inside the dormitories or cells, provided in this last case that the prisoners are not suffering from diarrhoea or other symptoms of communicable diseases.[20] The choice of facilities depends on a number of factors, including soil conditions, the availability of materials and especially of water, space, military considerations, and religious and cultural acceptability.[21] From the ICRC’s practice, for instance, dry pit latrines – provided they are regularly emptied – may be a preferred choice where water is in short supply or sewage infrastructure is either not available or inadequate, while toilets using water will be preferred where there is no water shortage and sewage systems reliable. Whether toilet facilities should be designed for sitting or squatting would be dependent on cultural preferences.[22]
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3. Accessibility of toilet facilities
2203  The requirement that prisoners of war have toilet facilities at their disposal ‘day and night’ is not just a question of quality but also of quantity and accessibility.
2204  The wording of Article 29(2) imposes an obligation on the Detaining Power to render toilet facilities accessible 24 hours.[23] Thus, it would be a violation of this provision if prisoners were only allowed to use these facilities at prescribed times and for limited periods, for instance only once or twice a day.[24]
2205  Making toilet facilities accessible at night may present its own challenges. In this regard, the ICRC has observed that in some camps prisoners were allowed to use toilet facilities at night only after calling a guard. In other cases, where toilet facilities were situated away from sleeping quarters, mobile conveniences were provided for nighttime. These practices were deemed acceptable.[25] It is important, however, that accessibility also take into account the needs of individual prisoners, which may depend, for example, on age or a medical condition.
2206  The requirement of separate toilet facilities for women prisoners of war in the second sentence of Article 29(2) is a specific expression of the general obligation contained in Article 14(2) to treat women with all the regard due to their sex. This obligation is additional to those governing the quality, quantity and accessibility of toilet facilities owed to all prisoners of war by virtue of the first sentence of Article 29(2). Thus, to comply with its obligations flowing from Articles 29(2) and 14(2), a Detaining Power must ensure that there are toilet facilities in camps for the exclusive use of women prisoners of war,[26] and that they have safe (e.g. only with women guards) and regular access to them day and night.[27] A similar obligation can be found in Article 25, which prescribes separate dormitories for women to which men prisoners do not have access.[28]
2207  In conjunction with Article 16, accessibility also implies that all prisoners of war, without any adverse distinction, for example based on other factors such as age or disability, have constant and easy access to toilet facilities. The ICRC has observed occasions where structural adjustments have been made to sanitary facilities to accommodate certain prisoners of war with disabilities, for instance by equipping those facilities with extra stools.[29]
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4. Ensuring toilets conform to the rules of hygiene
2208  For toilet facilities to ‘conform to the rules of hygiene’, excreta must be separated from humans, excrement contained and disposed of in a way that avoids contaminating water used for drinking or other purposes, and sanitary facilities prevented from becoming breeding grounds for vectors.[30] The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission found that, during the 1998–2000 international armed conflict, a number of conditions prevailing in toilet facilities in prisoner-of-war camps for extended periods of time rendered them ‘unsanitary’, including:
– The fact that simple holes dug in the ground were inadequately covered by tenting so that the ground underneath filled with rain water and mud and became contaminated.
– The fact that toilet facilities flooded and thus rendered conditions in other parts of the camp unhygienic (pointing to improper drainage).
– The fact that those who were sick, for example with diarrhoea, had to relieve themselves in containers or holes dug in the ground of their dormitories.
– The fact that there was no water to wash with after using the toilet.[31]
Open defecation in fields used to grow crops for human consumption, along river banks, in riverbeds or close to water sources, medical facilities or areas used for food storage, preparation and consumption would also be incompatible with the rules of hygiene.[32]
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5. Maintenance of toilets in a constant state of cleanliness
2209  The requirement of maintaining toilet facilities ‘in a constant state of cleanliness’ entails cleaning them regularly and effectively.[33] Although the obligation is imposed on the Detaining Power, prisoners of war may be asked to assist with cleaning tasks, including of toilets.[34]
2210  The effectiveness of keeping toilet facilities hygienic and clean also depends on the proportion of facilities to the number of prisoners of war. The lower the proportion, the more the facilities will have to be cleaned. Indeed, unhygienic and unclean toilet conditions may be caused by overuse, which may result in blockages, despite regular efforts to clean them. For this reason, there must be sufficient toilet facilities for the Detaining Power to maintain them in the hygienic conditions required by this paragraph.[35]
2211  Where the hygiene and cleanliness of toilet facilities cannot be maintained because there are not enough of them, all reasonable efforts must be made to build or provide new ones. For instance, even in the most difficult conditions marked by resource constraints, a Detaining Power may still reasonably be required to excavate new toilet facilities with surrounding drainage ditches in order to meet its obligations under this paragraph.[36] ICRC delegates visiting prisoner-of-war camps since the entry into force of the Convention who encountered unclean and unhygienic toilet facilities due to their overuse have often suggested that additional facilities be built.
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E. Paragraph 3: Personal hygiene and laundry
2212  Article 29(3) requires first, without qualification, that camps be ‘furnished’ with baths and showers. This was a strengthening of the obligation in the 1929 Convention, which qualified the requirement in light of what was possible.[37] The use of the conjunctive ‘and’ in relation to ‘baths and showers’ must, however, be reasonably interpreted in light of serving the purpose of the ‘personal toilet’ of prisoners of war, which includes the process of ‘washing the body’ or ‘wash[ing] oneself’.[38] Thus, a Detaining Power is obliged to furnish a camp with either baths or showers, and not both. The Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission regarded as problematic the total absence of bathing or shower facilities in prisoner-of-war camps, obliging prisoners to bathe in nearby rivers.[39] Similarly, in other contexts, the ICRC expressed concerns during visits to prisoner-of-war camps at the provision of buckets as alternatives to showers, making it difficult for prisoners to wash thoroughly. A complete lack of bathing or shower facilities that would leave prisoners of war unable to wash thoroughly or that would expose prisoners to health risks does not seem compatible with the stringent terms of the obligation under this paragraph.[40]
2213  Unlike paragraph 2, the present paragraph does not specify the extent to which baths or showers must be accessible, nor the desired frequency of bathing or showering. This must be seen, however, against the overall objective of ensuring a reasonable level of personal hygiene. Thus, prisoners of war must be able to bathe or shower as frequently as necessary to achieve this, which in turn depends on a variety of factors, including climatic conditions and geographical region, available facilities, and the prisoners’ physical activity or cultural practices.[41] In one context, a UN mission took issue with the lack of showers, the provision of only cold water for showering and its infrequent availability.[42]
2214  In conformity with its obligations under Article 29(1), the Detaining Power must also take the necessary measures to ensure that bathing and showering facilities are kept clean and hygienic. Likewise, to ensure the overall healthfulness of the camp and to prevent epidemics, it may be made compulsory for prisoners take a bath or shower (provided this would not pose a health risk to them) and to assist in cleaning the facilities.[43] Thus, the Detaining Power may issue directives to this effect,[44] the non-observance of which may be subject to punishment in accordance with the Convention.[45]
2215  Although Article 29(3) does not expressly state that separate baths or showers be provided for women prisoners of war, the rationale underlying the requirement of separate toilet facilities in paragraph 2 is equally applicable here. Notably, women prisoners must have access to such facilities for their exclusive use, without the risk of access by men, and must be given sufficient time to wash and clean themselves and their clothing, especially during menstruation.[46] This can more easily be achieved if the Detaining Power provides separate facilities for men and women.[47]
2216  What is ‘sufficient’ in terms of quantity of water and soap depends on the same factors as for the frequency of bathing or showering.[48] The ICRC has come across prisoner-of-war camps where a lack of water due to inadequate plumbing has been alleviated by the installation of hand pumps or temporary systems. In contrast, the mere reliance on external water sources (such as water trucks) as alternatives to running water for personal hygiene would not be regarded as sufficient.
2217  Regarding the provision of soap, the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission found that one bar of soap a month, which would correspond to between 100 and 150 grams, was insufficient for personal hygiene purposes in the specific circumstances.[49] Moreover, Article 29(3) dictates that water and soap be sufficient for prisoners to wash their ‘personal laundry’, requiring larger amounts of both.[50]
2218  It is not enough for the Detaining Power to make soap available for purchase at a canteen established under Article 28 (while noting that such canteens are obliged to stock soap). Soap sold at a canteen must be regarded as that which prisoners might choose to purchase, above and beyond what they might need to maintain good health, on the basis of Article 15, bearing in mind the physical work or exercise they might undertake. If prisoners prefer to bathe or wash their clothes more regularly than is objectively necessary to maintain a satisfactory level of cleanliness and health, they can purchase soap at the canteen (although other factors such as the availability of water and bathing facilities might need to be considered).
2219  Article 29(3) also contains the general requirement that prisoners of war be granted the ‘necessary installations, facilities and time’ for personal hygiene and laundry. In terms of installations, this includes, for instance, a sufficient number of basins for handwashing and laundry.[51] Laundry services could also be made available outside the camp.[52] The ICRC has observed in this regard that adequate laundry practices and personal hygiene may prevent, for example, outbreaks of bedbugs or scabies.[53]
2220  Cases where no such facilities were provided, obliging prisoners to stay in the same clothes for long periods, have been held to be a serious breach of the Geneva Conventions.[54]
2221  The word ‘facilities’ does not refer only to immovable structures in the sense of a ‘place’, but also in the ordinary meaning of the term to ‘a building, service, or piece of equipment provided for a particular purpose’,[55] in the present instance for personal hygiene purposes, especially washing oneself. In this context, the question arises as to what amenities or equipment besides water and soap, which are explicitly mentioned, would fall within the scope of this paragraph, for example toothbrushes, toothpaste, towels or shaving equipment.[56] Here again, the relevant distinction would be whether these items are necessary for prisoners to remain clean and in good health. If they are, the Detaining Power would have to provide them free of charge, in accordance with Article 15; if they go beyond what is necessary and merely contribute to the prisoners’ personal comfort, it would suffice for the Detaining Power to make them available at the canteen pursuant to Article 28. In the ICRC’s experience, practice in this regard has not always been consistent; in some cases, prisoners had to purchase these items, while in others they were provided free of charge.
2222  Beyond this distinction, one challenge that has arisen in relation to shaving equipment is the reluctance of some camp commanders to supply razor blades to prisoners of war owing to security concerns. However, in those cases practical alternatives could be found that were considered acceptable, including allowing access to a barber, providing electric razors or insisting that razor blades be returned after use.
2223  In line with the general obligation under Article 14(2) to treat women prisoners of war with all regard due to their sex, the Detaining Power must provide them with sufficient and suitable sanitary products, such as sanitary towels and means to dispose of them.[57]
2224  Prisoners of war must also be granted the necessary time for personal hygiene and personal laundry. In view of the specific needs of women, in particular menstrual hygiene, this may mean allowing them to bathe or shower more frequently and for longer than men.[58]
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Select bibliography
Bretonnière, Maurice, L’application de la Convention de Genève aux prisonniers français en Allemagne durant la seconde guerre mondiale (typewritten thesis), 1949, pp. 113–115.
Krähenmann, Sandra, ‘Protection of Prisoners in Armed Conflict’, in Dieter Fleck (ed.), The Handbook of International Humanitarian Law, 3rd edition, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 359–411, at 392–397.
Levie, Howard S., ‘Prisoners of War in International Armed Conflict’, International Law Studies, US Naval War College, Vol. 59, 1978, pp. 131–137.
Lord, Janet E., ‘Persons with Disabilities in International Humanitarian Law – Paternalism, Protectionism or Rights?’, in Michael Gill and Cathy J. Schlund-Vials (eds), Disability, Human Rights and the Limits of Humanitarianism, Ashgate, Farnham (UK), 2014, pp. 155–177.
Maia, Catherine, Kolb, Robert and Scalia, Damien, La Protection des Prisonniers de Guerre en Droit International Humanitaire, Bruylant, Brussels, 2015.
Murphy, Sean D., Kidane, Won and Snider, Thomas R., Litigating War: Mass Civil Injury and the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Oxford University Press, 2013, pp. 288–292.
Noone, Gregory P. et al., ‘Prisoners of War in the 21st Century: Issues in Modern Warfare’, Naval War Review, Vol. 50, 2004, pp. 1–69, at 56–69.
Sanna, Silvia, ‘Treatment of Prisoners of War’, in Andrew Clapham, Paola Gaeta and Marco Sassòli, The Geneva Conventions: A Commentary, Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. 977–1011, at 998–1000.

1 - See e.g. Agreement between Austria-Hungary and Italy concerning Prisoners of War and Civilians (1918), Articles 37 and 39, and Agreement between the United States of America and Germany concerning Prisoners of War, Sanitary Personnel and Civilians (1918), Articles 31 and 38.
2 - Report of the Conference of Government Experts of 1947, pp. 144–145.
3 - Final Record of the Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1949, Vol. II-A, p. 259 (United Kingdom).
4 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 1275.
5 - See e.g. 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. 139, finding that inadequate hygiene was ‘evidenced by the apparent prevalence of scabies, haemorrhoids and rheumatism’.
6 - World Health Organization, Humanitarian Health Action, Definitions: emergencies, ‘Epidemic’. ‘Outbreak’ has the same definition as ‘epidemic’ but is often used for a more limited geographic area. See also Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Principles of Epidemiology in Public Health Practice, An Introduction to Applied Epidemiology and Biostatistics, 3rd edition, 2011.
7 - See e.g. United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, p. 10.
8 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, paras 87–101; Prisoners of War, Ethiopia’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, paras 87–103. For more commentary on this and other hygiene-related examples from other contexts, see Maia/Kolb/Scalia, pp. 280–282.
9 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, paras 93–101.
10 - See e.g. ICRC, ‘Tuberculosis in prisons: a forgotten killer’ (web interview), 23 March 2006 (in the southern Caucasus, tuberculosis ‘was spreading and nothing was being done to contain it. Since the government didn’t have the means to deal with the problem by itself, the ICRC launched a programme to fight, prevent and treat TB.’), and ICRC, Annual Report 2014, ICRC, Geneva, p. 248 (‘POWs as well as other detainees in Gabode prison maintained sanitary conditions with the help of ICRC-donated hygiene kits and cleaning products.’).
11 - See para. 2209 of this commentary. During the First World War, disinfection practices were not enough to eliminate vermin in the quarters of prisoners of war; Bretonnière, p. 113.
12 - See World Health Organization, ‘Vector-borne diseases’, Fact sheet, 2 March 2020. In Algeria, delousing and insecticides were used to prevent the spread of lice among prisoners of war; Maia/Kolb/Scalia, p. 278, fn. 567.
13 - World Health Organization, ‘World Health Day 2014: About vector-borne diseases’, News release, 2 April 2014.
14 - The necessary vaccines will depend on the climate and latitude of the place of internment; Maia/Kolb/Scalia, p. 278. During the First World War, Germany vaccinated French prisoners of war against typhus, typhoid, tetanus and diphtheria, thanks to vaccines sent by France; Bretonnière, p. 113.
15 - See the commentary on Article 30, para. 2233.
16 - See para. 2214 of this commentary and United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 563, para. 9.11.5.1.
17 - See e.g. Canada, Prisoner of War Handling Manual, 2004, pp. 3F-9–3F-10, para. 3F09; United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, pp. 3-19–3-20, paras 315–318; and United States, Army Regulation on Enemy Prisoners, Retained Personnel, Civilian Internees and Other Detainees, 1997, p. 7, and Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006. For technical tools not necessarily specific to prisoner-of-war camps, see e.g. ICRC, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Habitat in Prisons, ICRC, Geneva, February 2013, and Benjamin Wisner and John Adams (eds), Environmental health in emergencies and disasters: A practical guide, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002.
18 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 312.
19 - See Canada, Prisoner of War Handling Manual, 2004, p. 3F-10, para. 3F09(3); United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 564, para. 9.11.5.2; Levie, p. 132 and accompanying fn. 122; and Sanna, p. 998.
20 - See United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, pp. 15–16. For further technical guidance not necessarily specific to prisoner-of-war camps, see Benjamin Wisner and John Adams (eds), Environmental health in emergencies and disasters: A practical guide, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002, pp. 132–138, and ICRC, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Habitat in Prisons, ICRC, Geneva, February 2013, pp. 51–59 and 79. In one context, a UN mission found it insufficient that buckets in dormitories were used as toilets: 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. 138.
21 - United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, p. 15. See, further, ICRC, Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Habitat in Prisons, ICRC, Geneva, February 2013, p. 51.
22 - ICRC, Towards Humane Prisons: A Principled and Participatory Approach to Prison Planning and Design, ICRC, Geneva, April 2018, p. 160.
23 - See e.g. United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, p. 6-18, para. 630, and Levie, p. 132. See also United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 563, para. 9.11.5.2, and ICTY, Martić Trial Judgment, 2007, paras 288 and 415.
24 - See Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Ethiopia’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, paras 93 and 95. For common prisoners, Rule 15 of the non-binding Mandela Rules (2015) specifies that ‘sanitary conditions must be adequate to enable every prisoner to comply with the needs of nature when necessary’ (emphasis added). See also UN Security Council, 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. 98.
25 - See also ICTY, Aleksovski Trial Judgment, 1999, paras 159–164.
26 - See e.g. Canada, Prisoner of War Handling Manual, 2004, p. 3F-10, para. 3F09(3); United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, p. 6-18, para. 630. See also United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 564, para. 9.11.5.2.
27 - Elspeth Cameron Ritchie points out the frequency of urinary tract infections in military women in the field caused by their restricting fluids to avoid having to use filthy or non-existent bathrooms; see Elspeth Cameron Ritchie and Anne L. Naclerio (eds), Women at War, Oxford University Press, 2015, p. xix.
28 - See the commentaries on Article 25, section F, and on Article 14(2), section D.
29 - This is similar to the basic principle in Article 2 of the 2006 Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities – which also applies in armed conflicts by virtue of its Article 11 – of ‘reasonable accommodation’, i.e. ‘necessary modifications and adjustments not imposing a disproportionate or undue burden, where needed in a particular case, to ensure to persons with disabilities the enjoyment or exercise on an equal basis with others of all human rights and fundamental freedoms’. See also Lord, p. 162.
30 - See, generally, Benjamin Wisner and John Adams (eds), Environmental health in emergencies and disasters: A practical guide, World Health Organization, Geneva, 2002, p. 130.
31 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 97; Prisoners of War, Ethiopia’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 95.
32 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Ethiopia’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 95; United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, p. 15. See also, from the Second World War, United Kingdom, Military Court at Singapore, Mikizawa case, 1946, Abstract of evidence, p. 2.
33 - In one context during the Second World War, failure to maintain latrines as required, combined with their proximity to quarters, led to an outbreak of dysentery: United Kingdom, Military Court at Singapore, Hojo case, 1946, Abstract of evidence, p. 1.
34 - United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 563, para. 9.11.5.1.
35 - ICTY, Aleksovsky Trial Judgment, 1999, paras 159–164; Sanna, p. 998.
36 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 100.
37 - Geneva Convention on Prisoners of War (1929), Article 13; Levie, p. 133 and accompanying fn. 123.
38 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, pp. 113 (bath) and 1336 (shower).
39 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 98.
40 - In one context during the Second World War, the inadequacy of water for washing meant that ‘it was impossible to take adequate precautions against disease and epidemic’; United Kingdom, Military Court at Singapore, Hojo case, 1946, Abstract of evidence, p. 1.
41 - See e.g. United Kingdom, Joint Doctrine Captured Persons, 2015, p. 6-18, para. 630, and United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 563, para. 9.11.5.1.
42 - 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, paras 138 and 240: one part of a camp ‘had 20 lavatories and 18 showers for 2,881 persons’.
43 - See e.g. United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 563, para. 9.11.5.1, and Pictet (ed.), Commentary on the Third Geneva Convention, ICRC, Geneva, 1960, p. 208.
44 - See Levie, p. 132, fn. 121.
45 - In particular, Articles 82–89.
46 - Medina Haeri and Nadine Puechguirbal, ‘From helplessness to agency: examining the plurality of women’s experiences in armed conflict’, International Review of the Red Cross, Vol. 92, No. 877, March 2010, pp. 103–122; Charlotte Lindsey-Curtet, Florence Tercier Holst-Roness and Letitia Anderson, Addressing the Needs of Women Affected by Armed Conflict: An ICRC Guidance Document, ICRC, Geneva, 2004, p. 136.
47 - See e.g. Canada, Prisoner of War Handling Manual, 2004, p. 3F-10, para. 3F09; Côte d’Ivoire, Teaching Manual, 2007, Vol. IV, para. II.2.2; Germany, Military Manual, 2013, para. 831; India, Army Training Note, 1995, p. 3/8; Netherlands, Military Manual, 2005, para. 0719; New Zealand, Military Manual, 2019, Vol. 4, p. 12-51, para. 12.10.53, fn. 241; Peru, IHL Manual, 2004, para. 40(e); Philippines, LOAC Teaching File, 2006, p. 16-7; Sri Lanka, Military Manual, 2003, para. 1635; and United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, p. 12 (requiring separate facilities), and Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 564, para. 9.11.5.2.
48 - See para. 2213 of this commentary.
49 - Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission, Prisoners of War, Eritrea’s Claim, Partial Award, 2003, para. 98.
50 - Levie, pp. 132–133.
51 - See e.g. United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, p. 12.
52 - See e.g. United States, Law of War Manual, 2016, p. 564, para. 9.11.5.3, and Pictet (ed.), Commentary on the Third Geneva Convention, ICRC, Geneva, 1960, p. 208.
53 - See ICRC, Towards Human Prisons: A Principled and Participatory Approach to Prison Planning and Design, April 2018, p. 159.
54 - See United Kingdom, Alseran case, Judgment, 2017, para. 514.
55 - Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 12th edition, Oxford University Press, 2011, p. 509.
56 - See e.g. United States, Sanitation and Hygiene Standards for Army Field Detention Facilities, 2006, pp. 12–13.
57 - See also the commentary on Article 14, section D.2.
58 - World Health Organization, Prisons and Health, WHO/Europe, Copenhagen, 2014, p. 161.