These conventions are a set of protocols internationally ratified, and categorically states that civilians, aid workers, and other non-combatants should be protected from the effects of war by both warring parties.
This comes in the wake of the violent clash between Indian and Chinese soldiers in Galwan Valley, Ladakh, in June, which claimed the lives of 20 Indian soldiers.
It has been learnt that days after the incident, the ICRC approached the Permanent Missions of India and China and handed over “note verbal”, a diplomatic form of communication, drawing the attention of the warring parties to the rules under the Geneva Conventions in instances of armed conflict. Although the ICRC, headquartered in Geneva, has confirmed its outreach to Indian and Chinese governments, it has refrained from mentioning any specifics regarding the same, pointing out that the matter is confidential.
“As part of its mandate, the ICRC regularly engages in a dialogue with the authorities on humanitarian issues as well as on rules applicable to various situations, based on the ICRC’s internal analysis. This dialogue with the concerned authorities is conducted in a confidential manner and the ICRC does not normally publish either its findings or the content of these confidential discussions and recommendations that it presents. Based on these principles, we are also engaging with the Governments of India and China,” an ICRC spokesperson has been quoted as having said by Express.
Underscoring the importance of not keeping the discussions in the public domain, the official has added, “The confidentiality principle, on which our work is based, is important for the ICRC to uphold its mandate and we would like to ask all concerned, including the media, to please understand and respect that.”
India and China have signed the 1949 Geneva Conventions, a set of four international treaties, along with the members of the international community. These treaties ensure that during a conflict, warring parties conduct themselves in a humane way with civilians; non-combatants; aid workers; and combatants, who no longer engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war, and sick and wounded soldiers. Over the years, three additional protocols have been added to the Conventions. While India has been a signatory to one of the three protocols, China has acceded to two. The ICRC is mandated by international law to monitor signatories to ensure that they comply with the said rules during armed conflicts.
The Galwan incident is a major turning point in India-China relations, ratcheting up tensions at an unprecedented level in recent years. It was the first time since 1975 that Indian soldiers were killed in a military clash with the Chinese. The incident had sparked global concern, with several nations appealing to both sides to show restraint.