Putin’s Russia Drops Key Part of Geneva Convention – Does This Mean War with No Rules?

  • The reason for the Geneva Convention expansion in 1949 was due to Hitler carrying out atrocious acts on and off the battlefield.
  • Now Russian provocateurs can now act in disguise as much as they like.
  • This could have serious ramifications for the Donbas region and other former Soviet block nations.

This month, Russia’s Gosduma approved the withdrawal from the declaration that the Soviet Union made upon ratification of the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions of August 12, 1949, concerning the protection of victims of international armed conflicts. Last month, Russian president Vladimir Putin asked the Russian government to approve the withdrawal.  Of course, in Putin’s Russia the Gosduma immediately agreed to pass it into law.

The State Duma, commonly abbreviated in Russian as Gosduma, is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia, while the upper house is the Council of the Federation. The Duma headquarters are located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to as deputies.

The Russians declared Clause 1 of Resolution of the USSR dated August 4, 1989 N 330-I not enforceable in Russia. The Actual Geneva Protocol:

Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977

Article 1 – General principles and scope of application

1. The High Contracting Parties undertake to respect and to ensure respect for this Protocol in all circumstances.

2. In cases not covered by this Protocol or by other international agreements, civilians and combatants remain under the protection and authority of the principles of international law derived from established custom, from the principles of humanity and from the dictates of public conscience.

3. This Protocol, which supplements the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the protection of war victims, shall apply in the situations referred to in Article 2.

4. The situations referred to in the preceding paragraph include armed conflicts in which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist régimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations. 

Historically, the reason for the Geneva Convention expansion in 1949 was due to Hitler carrying out atrocious acts on and off the battlefield and within German military prison camps and civilian concentration camps during World War II. Hence, the need for the Geneva Convention expansion in the 1949 to provide protection for non-combatant civilians.

Officially Russia canceled only one article of the additional protocol to the Geneva Convention.  However, the article is very pivotal, as it is about recognition of the jurisdiction of the United Nations  special commission to play the role of a judicial body over potential violations. That is, formally, the Russian Federation recognizes that it is better not to touch civilians during the war, but now Russia allows zero external bodies to judge any convention violation.  This is a de facto denunciation of the entire Fourth Convention.

The Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, commonly referred to as the Fourth Geneva Convention and abbreviated as GCIV, is one of the four treaties of the Geneva Conventions.

Now Russian provocateurs can now act in disguise as much as they like, putting local civilian populations are risk. When combatants refuse to wear a visible flag of the country they represent and blend in with civilians, opposition forces tend to use indiscriminate lethal force.

This could have serious ramifications for the Donbas region and other former Soviet block nations, and potentially creating an international issue for European Union members.

War without rules is Putin’s answer to the sanctions and also shows the dangerous trajectory Russia has been headed in for some time.

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Christina Kitova

I spent most of my professional life in finance, insurance risk management litigation.

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