Convention (X) for the Adaption to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention

Convention (X) for the Adaption to Maritime War of the Principles of the Geneva Convention



Military hospital-ships, that is to say, ships constructed or fitted
out by States specially and solely with a view to assisting the
wounded, sick, and shipwrecked, the names of which shall have been
communicated to the belligerent Powers at the commencement or during
the course of hostilities, and in any case before they are employed,
shall be respected, and cannot be captured while hostilities last.

These ships, moreover, are not on the same footing as ships of war
as regards their stay in a neutral port.


Hospital-ships, equipped wholly or in part at the expense of private
individuals or officially recognized relief societies, shall
likewise be respected and exempt from capture, if the belligerent
Power to wholly they belong has given them an official commission
and has notified their names to the adverse Power at the
commencement of or during hostilities, and in any case before they
are employed.

These ships must be provided with a certificate from the competent
authorities declaring that the ships have been under their control
while fitting out and on final departure.


Hospital-ships, equipped wholly or ill part at the expense of
private individuals or officially recognized societies of neutral
countries, shall be respected and exempt from capture, on condition
that they are placed under the control of one of the belligerents,
with the previous consent of their own Government and with the
authorization of the belligerent himself, and that the latter has
notified their name to his adversary at the commencement of or
during hostilities, and in any case, before they are employed.


The ships mentioned in Articles 1, 2, and 3 shall afford relief and
assistance to the wounded, sick, and shipwrecked of the belligerents
without distinction of nationality.

The Governments undertake not to use these ships for any military

These ships must not in any way hamper the movements of the

During and after an engagement they will act at their own risk and

The belligerents shall have the right to control and search them;
they can refuse their assistance, order them off, make them take a
certain course, and put a commissioner on board; they can even
detain them, if the gravity of the circumstances requires it.

As far as possible, the belligerents shall enter in the log of the
hospital-ships the orders which they give them.


Military hospital-ships shall be distinguished by being painted
white outside with a horizontal band of green about a metre and a
half in breadth

The ships mentioned in Articles 2 and 3 shall be distinguished by
being painted white outside with a horizontal band of red about a
metre and a half in breadth.

The boats of the ships above mentioned, as also small craft which
may be used for hospital work, shall he distinguished by similar

All hospital-ships shall make themselves known by hoisting, with
their national flag, the white flag with a red cross provided by the
Geneva Convention, and further, if they belong to a neutral State,
by flying at the mainmast the national flag of the belligerent under
whose control they are placed.

Hospital-ships which, under the terms of Article 4, are detained by
the enemy, must haul down the national flag of the belligerent to
whom they belong.

The ships and boats above mentioned which wish to ensure by night
the freedom from interference to which they are entitled, must,
subject to the assent of the belligerent they are accompanying, take
the necessary measures to render their special painting sufficiently


The distinguishing signs referred to in Article 5 can be used, whether in time
of peace or in time of war, only for protecting or indicating the ships therein


In the case of a light on board a vessel of war, the sick-wards
shall be respected and spared as far as possible.

The said sick-wards and the materiel belonging to them remain
subject to the Laws of war , but cannot be used for any purpose other
than that for which they were originally intended, so long as they
are required for the sick and wounded.

The commander, however, into whose power they have fallen may apply
them to other purposes, in case of urgent military necessity, after
seeing that the. sick and wounded on board are properly provided


Hospital-ships and sick-wards of vessels arc no longer entitled to
protection if they are employed for the purpose of injuring the

Neither the fact of the personnel of the said ships and sickwards
being armed for maintaining order and for defending the sick and
wounded. nor the presence of wireless telegraph apparatus on board,
is a sufficient reason for withdrawing protection.


Belligerents may appeal to the charity of the commanders of neutral
merchant-ships, yachts, or boats to take on board and care for the
sick and wounded.

Vessels responding to this appeal, and also vessels which have of
their own accord rescued sick, wounded, or shipwrecked men, shall
enjoy special protection and certain immunities. In no case can they
be captured for having such persons on board, but, apart from
special undertakings that may have been made to them, they remain
liable to capture for any violations of neutrality they may have


The religious, medical, and hospital staff of any captured ship is
inviolable, and its members cannot be made prisoners of war. On
leaving the ship they take away with them the objects and surgical
instruments which are their own private property.

This staff shall continue to discharge its duties while necessary,
and can afterwards leave, when the commander-in-chief considers it

The belligerents must guarantee to the said staff, when it has
fallen into their hands, the same allowances and pay as are given to
the staff of corresponding rank in their own navy.


Sailors and soldiers on board, when sick or wounded, as well as
other persons officially attached to fleets or armies, to whatever
nation they belong, shall be respected and cared for by the captors.


Any vessel of war belonging to a belligerent may demand the delivery
of sick, wounded, or shipwrecked men on board military hospital-
ships, hospital-ships belonging to relief societies or-to private
individuals, merchant-ships, yachts, or boats; whatever the
nationality of these vessels.




See Also

References and Further Reading

About the Author/s and Reviewer/s

Author: international



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