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close this bookMeans of Identification for Protected Medical Transports (International Committee of the Red Cross , 1994, 18 p.)
View the document(introduction...)
View the document1. Introduction
View the document2. Flags and signs painted on the hulls of ships
View the document3. Radiocommunications
View the document4. Radar identification
Open this folder and view contents5. Identification by submarines
View the document6. Other devices facilitating identification
View the document7. Improper use of technical means of identification
View the document8. Conclusion

1. Introduction

The Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 provide that medical personnel and equipment shall in general be identified by the distinctive emblem of the red cross or red crescent.¹ The Second Geneva Convention,2 applicable to the victims of conflict at sea, specifies that the exterior surfaces of hospital ships and smaller craft used for medical purposes shall be white and recommends that the parties to the conflict use "the most modern methods" to facilitate identification of medical transports at sea (Art. 43). It is also recommended that medical aircraft should be clearly marked with both the distinctive emblem and their national colours on their lower, upper and lateral surfaces. They should moreover be provided with "any other markings or means of identification" agreed upon between the belligerents from the outbreak or during the course of hostilities (First Convention, Art. 36, and Second Convention, Art. 39).

¹ (First) Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field of 12 August 1949, Arts 35-38.

2 (Second) Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked Members of Armed Forces at Sea of 12 August 1949, Arts 22, 24, 26, 27 and 43.

The use of most of the means of identification referred to in this paper is discussed in Annex I to Protocol I of 8 June 1977 additional to the 1949 Geneva Conventions.

In 1990, a meeting of technical experts convened by the ICRC on the basis of Article 98 of Protocol I proceeded to review Annex I. The main purpose of the proposed amendments was to incorporate into Annex I of Protocol I technical provisions already adopted by the competent international organizations. The consultation procedure was concluded in 1993 and the amendments proposed by the experts entered into force on 1 March 19943 for all States party to Protocol I, with the exception, for the relevant amendments, of those States which made declarations of non-acceptance.4

3 See International Review of the Red Cross (IRRC). No. 298, January-February 1994. pp. 27-41.

4 Sweden for Articles 8 and 9 and Jordan for Article 2.