The present Protocol brings mainly the following innovations:
Article 1(4) provides that armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination, alien occupation or racist regimes are to be considered international conflicts.
Part II (Articles 8-34) develops the rules of the First and the Second Geneva Conventions on wounded, sick and shipwrecked. It extends the protection of the Conventions to civilian medical personnel, equipment and supplies and to civilian units and transports and contains detailed provisions on medical transportation.
Part III and several chapters of Part IV (Articles 35-60) deal with the conduct of hostilities, i.e. questions which hitherto were regulated by the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and by customary international law. Their reaffirmation and development is important in view of the age of the Hague Conventions and of the new States which had no part in their elaboration. Article 43 and 44 give a new definition of armed forces and combatants. Among the most important Articles are those on the protection of the civilian population against the effects of hostilities. They contain a definition of military objectives and prohibitions of attack on civilian persons and objects. Further Articles (61-79) deal with the protection of civil defence organizations, relief actions and the treatment of persons in the power of a party to a conflict.
Part V (Articles 80-91) brings some new elements to the problem of the execution of the Conventions and the Protocol.