The Geneva Conventions are a series of four international treaties which originated in 1949 from negotiations in Geneva, Switzerland. The Conventions are in part substantial revisions of and additions to the Hague Conventions.
The very title of the agreements signed in Geneva raises several issues: What is a “Convention,” and what is the purpose of this specific Convention? The answers to these questions introduce the issue of the assumed principles and purposes of the Conventions themselves.
In general, we may presume that the definition of a “convention” given by David Hume is the most operative one for the purposes of this article: “a sense of common interest, which each [person] feels…which carries him, in concurrence with others, into a general plan or system of actions, which tend to public utility” (1957, Appendix III). In the case of the Geneva Conventions, each Convention is a mutual promise for the benefit of all concerning the conduct of war. In particular, the Conventions...
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