Geneva Accords - History

Geneva Accords - History


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The Geneva Accords ended,the war in Vietnam, for the time being. Under the terms of the Accords, the country was divided into a Communist North and Non-Communist South. Elections under international supervision were to be held in both the North and South two years after the signing of the Accords.

Geneva Accords - History

By Professor Robert K. Brigham, Vassar College

According to the terms of the Geneva Accords, Vietnam would hold national elections in 1956 to reunify the country. The division at the seventeenth parallel, a temporary separation without cultural precedent, would vanish with the elections. The United States, however, had other ideas. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles did not support the Geneva Accords because he thought they granted too much power to the Communist Party of Vietnam.

Instead, Dulles and President Dwight D. Eisenhower supported the creation of a counter-revolutionary alternative south of the seventeenth parallel. The United States supported this effort at nation-building through a series of multilateral agreements that created the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO).

South Vietnam Under Ngo Dinh Diem
Using SEATO for political cover, the Eisenhower administration helped create a new nation from dust in southern Vietnam. In 1955, with the help of massive amounts of American military, political, and economic aid, the Government of the Republic of Vietnam (GVN or South Vietnam) was born. The following year, Ngo Dinh Diem, a staunchly anti-Communist figure from the South, won a dubious election that made him president of the GVN. Almost immediately, Diem claimed that his newly created government was under attack from Communists in the north. Diem argued that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV or North Vietnam) wanted to take South Vietnam by force. In late 1957, with American military aid, Diem began to counterattack. He used the help of the American Central Intelligence Agency to identify those who sought to bring his government down and arrested thousands. Diem passed a repressive series of acts known as Law 10/59 that made it legal to hold someone in jail if s/he was a suspected Communist without bringing formal charges.

The outcry against Diem's harsh and oppressive actions was immediate. Buddhist monks and nuns were joined by students, business people, intellectuals, and peasants in opposition to the corrupt rule of Ngo Dinh Diem. The more these forces attacked Diem's troops and secret police, the more Diem complained that the Communists were trying to take South Vietnam by force. This was, in Diem's words, "a hostile act of aggression by North Vietnam against peace-loving and democratic South Vietnam."

The Kennedy administration seemed split on how peaceful or democratic the Diem regime really was. Some Kennedy advisers believed Diem had not instituted enough social and economic reforms to remain a viable leader in the nation-building experiment. Others argued that Diem was the "best of a bad lot." As the White House met to decide the future of its Vietnam policy, a change in strategy took place at the highest levels of the Communist Party.

From 1956-1960, the Communist Party of Vietnam desired to reunify the country through political means alone. Accepting the Soviet Union's model of political struggle, the Communist Party tried unsuccessfully to cause Diem's collapse by exerting tremendous internal political pressure. After Diem's attacks on suspected Communists in the South, however, southern Communists convinced the Party to adopt more violent tactics to guarantee Diem's downfall. At the Fifteenth Party Plenum in January 1959, the Communist Party finally approved the use of revolutionary violence to overthrow Ngo Dinh Diem's government and liberate Vietnam south of the seventeenth parallel. In May 1959, and again in September 1960, the Party confirmed its use of revolutionary violence and the combination of the political and armed struggle movements. The result was the creation of a broad-based united front to help mobilize southerners in opposition to the GVN.

The character of the NLF and its relationship to the Communists in Hanoi has caused considerable debate among scholars, anti-war activists, and policymakers. From the birth of the NLF, government officials in Washington claimed that Hanoi directed the NLF's violent attacks against the Saigon regime. In a series of government "White Papers," Washington insiders denounced the NLF, claiming that it was merely a puppet of Hanoi and that its non-Communist elements were Communist dupes. The NLF, on the other hand, argued that it was autonomous and independent of the Communists in Hanoi and that it was made up mostly of non-Communists. Many anti-war activists supported the NLF's claims. Washington continued to discredit the NLF, however, calling it the "Viet Cong," a derogatory and slang term meaning Vietnamese Communist.

December 1961 White Paper
In 1961, President Kennedy sent a team to Vietnam to report on conditions in the South and to assess future American aid requirements. The report, now known as the "December 1961 White Paper," argued for an increase in military, technical, and economic aid, and the introduction of large-scale American "advisers" to help stabilize the Diem regime and crush the NLF. As Kennedy weighed the merits of these recommendations, some of his other advisers urged the president to withdraw from Vietnam altogether, claiming that it was a "dead-end alley."

Throughout the fall and into the winter of 1964, the Johnson administration debated the correct strategy in Vietnam. The Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to expand the air war over the DRV quickly to help stabilize the new Saigon regime. The civilians in the Pentagon wanted to apply gradual pressure to the Communist Party with limited and selective bombings. Only Undersecretary of State George Ball dissented, claiming that Johnson's Vietnam policy was too provocative for its limited expected results. In early 1965, the NLF attacked two U.S. army installations in South Vietnam, and as a result, Johnson ordered the sustained bombing missions over the DRV that the Joint Chiefs of Staff had long advocated.

Nixon's secret plan, it turned out, was borrowing from a strategic move from Lyndon Johnson's last year in office. The new president continued a process called "Vietnamization", an awful term that implied that Vietnamese were not fighting and dying in the jungles of Southeast Asia. This strategy brought American troops home while increasing the air war over the DRV and relying more on the ARVN for ground attacks. The Nixon years also saw the expansion of the war into neighboring Laos and Cambodia, violating the international rights of these countries in secret campaigns, as the White House tried desperately to rout out Communist sanctuaries and supply routes. The intense bombing campaigns and intervention in Cambodia in late April 1970 sparked intense campus protests all across America. At Kent State in Ohio, four students were killed by National Guardsmen who were called out to preserve order on campus after days of anti-Nixon protest. Shock waves crossed the nation as students at Jackson State in Mississippi were also shot and killed for political reasons, prompting one mother to cry, "They are killing our babies in Vietnam and in our own backyard."

The expanded air war did not deter the Communist Party, however, and it continued to make hard demands in Paris. Nixon's Vietnamization plan temporarily quieted domestic critics, but his continued reliance on an expanded air war to provide cover for an American retreat angered U.S. citizens. By the early fall 1972, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and DRV representatives Xuan Thuy and Le Duc Tho had hammered out a preliminary peace draft. Washington and Hanoi assumed that its southern allies would naturally accept any agreement drawn up in Paris, but this was not to pass. The leaders in Saigon, especially President Nguyen van Thieu and Vice President Nguyen Cao Ky, rejected the Kissinger-Tho peace draft, demanding that no concessions be made. The conflict intensified in December 1972, when the Nixon administration unleashed a series of deadly bombing raids against targets in the DRV's largest cities, Hanoi and Haiphong. These attacks, now known as the Christmas bombings, brought immediate condemnation from the international community and forced the Nixon administration to reconsider its tactics and negotiation strategy.

The Paris Peace Agreement
In early January 1973, the Nixon White House convinced the Thieu-Ky regime in Saigon that they would not abandon the GVN if they signed onto the peace accord. On January 23, therefore, the final draft was initialed, ending open hostilities between the United States and the DRV. The Paris Peace Agreement did not end the conflict in Vietnam, however, as the Thieu-Ky regime continued to battle Communist forces. From March 1973 until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, ARVN forces tried desperately to save the South from political and military collapse. The end finally came, however, as DRV tanks rolled south along National Highway One. On the morning of April 30, Communist forces captured the presidential palace in Saigon, ending the Second Indochina War.


Applicability of the Geneva Conventions

  • The Conventions apply to all cases of declared war between signatory nations. This is the original sense of applicability, which predates the 1949 version.
  • The Conventions apply to all cases of armed conflict between two or more signatory nations, even in the absence of a declaration of war. This language was added in 1949 to accommodate situations that have all the characteristics of war without the existence of a formal declaration of war, such as a police action (a military action undertaken without a formal declaration of war).
  • The Conventions apply to a signatory nation even if the opposing nation is not a signatory, but only if the opposing nation "accepts and applies the provisions" of the Conventions. Source: 1952 Commentary on the Geneva Conventions, edited by Jean Pictet.

Geneva Accords - History

By the mid-1980s, the tenacious Afghan resistance movement--aided by the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and others--was exacting a high price from the Soviets, both militarily within Afghanistan and by souring the U.S.S.R.'s relations with much of the Western and Islamic world. Although informal negotiations for a Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan had been underway since 1982, it was not until 1988 that the Governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan, with the United States and Soviet Union serving as guarantors, signed an agreement settling the major differences between them. The agreement, known as the Geneva accords, included five major documents, which, among other things, called for U.S. and Soviet noninterference in the internal affairs of Pakistan and Afghanistan, the right of refugees to return to Afghanistan without fear of persecution or harassment, and, most importantly, a timetable that ensured full Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan by February 15, 1989. About 14,500 Soviet and an estimated one million Afghan lives were lost between 1979 and the Soviet withdrawal in 1989.

Significantly, the mujahidin were neither party to the negotiations nor to the 1988 agreement and, consequently, refused to accept the terms of the accords. As a result, the civil war continued after the Soviet withdrawal, which was completed in February 1989. Najibullah's regime, though failing to win popular support, territory, or international recognition, was able to remain in power until 1992 but collapsed after the defection of Gen. Abdul Rashid Dostam and his Uzbek militia in March. However, when the victorious mujahidin entered Kabul to assume control over the city and the central government, a new round of internecine fighting began between the various militias, which had coexisted only uneasily during the Soviet occupation. With the demise of their common enemy, the militias' ethnic, clan, religious, and personality differences surfaced, and the civil war continued.

Seeking to resolve these differences, the leaders of the Peshawar-based mujahidin groups established an interim Islamic Jihad Council in mid-April to assume power in Kabul. Moderate leader Prof. Sibghatullah Mojaddedi was to chair the council for 2 months, after which a 10-member leadership council composed of mujahidin leaders and presided over by the head of the Jamiat-i-Islami, Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani, was to be set up for 4 months. During this 6-month period, a Loya Jirga, or grand council of Afghan elders and notables, would convene and designate an interim administration which would hold power up to a year, pending elections.

But in May 1992, Rabbani prematurely formed the leadership council, undermining Mojaddedi's fragile authority. In June, Mojaddedi surrendered power to the Leadership Council, which then elected Rabbani as President. Nonetheless, heavy fighting broke out in August 1992 in Kabul between forces loyal to President Rabbani and rival factions, particularly those who supported Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami. After Rabbani extended his tenure in December 1992, fighting in the capital flared up in January and February 1993. The Islamabad Accord, signed in March 1993, which appointed Hekmatyar as Prime Minister, failed to have a lasting effect. A follow-up agreement, the Jalalabad Accord, called for the militias to be disarmed but was never fully implemented. Through 1993, Hekmatyar's Hezb-i-Islami forces, allied with the Shi'a Hezb-i-Wahdat militia, clashed intermittently with Rabbani and Masood's Jamiat forces. Cooperating with Jamiat were militants of Sayyaf's Ittehad-i-Islami and, periodically, troops loyal to ethnic Uzbek strongman Abdul Rashid Dostam. On January 1, 1994, Dostam switched sides, precipitating largescale fighting in Kabul and in northern provinces, which caused thousands of civilian casualties in Kabul and elsewhere and created a new wave of displaced persons and refugees. The country sank even further into anarchy, forces loyal to Rabbani and Masood, both ethnic Tajiks, controlled Kabul and much of the northeast, while local warlords exerted power over the rest of the country.


Indochina [ edit | edit source ]

"Charles de Gaulle and Ho Chi Minh are hanged" in effigy by students demonstrating in Saigon, July 1964, on the 10th anniversary of the Geneva Accords.

While the delegates began to assemble in Geneva from late April, the discussions on Indochina did not begin until May 8, 1954. The Viet Minh had achieved their decisive victory over the French Union forces at Dien Bien Phu the previous day. Β] :549

The Western allies did not have a unified position on what the Conference was to achieve in relation to Indochina. Anthony Eden, leading the British delegation, favored a negotiated settlement to the conflict. Georges Bidault, leading the French delegation, vacillated and was keen to preserve something of France's position in Indochina to justify past sacrifices, even as the nation's military situation deteriorated. Β] :559 The US had been supporting the French in Indochina for many years and the Republican Eisenhower administration wanted to ensure that it could not be accused of another "Yalta" or having "lost" Indochina to the Communists. Its leaders had previously accused the Democratic Truman administration of having "lost China" when the communists were successful in dominating the country.

The Eisenhower administration had considered air strikes in support of the French at Dien Bien Phu but was unable to obtain a commitment to united action from key allies, such as the United Kingdom. Eisenhower was wary of becoming drawn into "another Korea" that would be deeply unpopular with the American public. US domestic policy considerations strongly influenced the country's position at Geneva. Β] :551–3 Columnist Walter Lippmann wrote on April 29 that "the American position at Geneva is an impossible one, so long as leading Republican senators have no terms for peace except unconditional surrender of the enemy and no terms for entering the war except as a collective action in which nobody is now willing to engage." Β] :554 At the time of the conference, the US did not recognize the People's Republic of China. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, an anticommunist, forbade any contact with the Chinese delegation, refusing to shake hands with Zhou Enlai, the lead Chinese negotiator. Β] :555

Dulles fell out with the UK delegate Anthony Eden over the perceived failure of the UK to support united action and US positions on Indochina he left Geneva on May 3 and was replaced by his deputy Walter Bedell Smith. Β] :555–8 The State of Vietnam refused to attend the negotiations until Bidault wrote to Bảo Đại, assuring him that any agreement would not partition Vietnam. Β] :550–1

Bidault opened the conference on May 8 by proposing a cessation of hostilities, a ceasefire in place, a release of prisoners, and a disarming of irregulars, despite the French surrender at Điện Biên Phủ the previous day in northwestern Vietnam. Β] :559–60

On May 10, Phạm Văn Đồng, the leader of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) delegation set out their position, proposing a ceasefire separation of the opposing forces a ban on the introduction of new forces into Indochina the exchange of prisoners independence and sovereignty for Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos elections for unified governments in each country, the withdrawal of all foreign forces and the inclusion of the Pathet Lao and Khmer Issarak representatives at the Conference. Β] :560 Pham Van Dong first proposed a temporary partition of Vietnam on May 25. Ζ] Following their victory at Dien Bien Phu and given the worsening French security position around the Red River Delta, a ceasefire and partition would not appear to have been in the interests of the DRV. It appears that the DRV leadership thought the balance of forces was uncomfortably close and was worried about morale problems in the troops and supporters, after eight years of war. Β] :561 Turner has argued that the Viet Minh might have prolonged the negotiations and continued fighting to achieve a more favorable position militarily, if not for Chinese and Soviet pressure on them to end the fighting. Ζ] In addition, there was a widespread perception that the Diem government would collapse, leaving the Viet Minh free to take control of the area. Η]

On May 12, the State of Vietnam rejected any partition of the country, and the US expressed a similar position the next day. The French sought to implement a physical separation of the opposing forces into enclaves throughout the country, known as the "leopard-skin" approach. The DRV/Viet Minh would be given the Cà Mau Peninsula, three enclaves near Saigon, large areas of Annam and Tonkin the French Union forces would retain most urban areas and the Red River Delta, including Hanoi and Haiphong, allowing it to resume combat operation in the north, if necessary. Β] :562–3

Behind the scenes, the US and the French governments continued to discuss the terms for possible US military intervention in Indochina. Β] :563–6 By May 29, the US and the French had reached agreement that if the Conference failed to deliver an acceptable peace deal, Eisenhower would seek Congressional approval for military intervention in Indochina. Β] :568–9 However, after discussions with the Australian and New Zealand governments in which it became evident that neither would support US military intervention, reports of the plummeting morale among the French Union forces and opposition from Army Chief of Staff Matthew Ridgway, the US began to shift away from intervention and continued to oppose a negotiated settlement. Β] :569–73 By early to mid-June, the US began to consider the possibility that rather than supporting the French in Indochina, it might be preferable for the French to leave and for the US to support the new Indochinese states. That would remove the taint of French colonialism. Unwilling to support the proposed partition or intervention, by mid-June, the US decided to withdraw from major participation in the Conference. Β] :574–5

On June 15, Vyacheslav Molotov had proposed that the ceasefire should be monitored by a supervisory commission, chaired by neutral India. On June 16, Zhou Enlai stated that the situations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos were not the same and should be treated separately. He proposed that Laos and Cambodia could be treated as neutral nations if they had no foreign bases. On June 18, Pham Van Dong said the Viet Minh would be prepared to withdraw their forces from Laos and Cambodia if no foreign bases were established in Indochina. Β] :581 The apparent softening of the Communist position appeared to arise from a meeting among the DRV, Chinese and Soviet delegations on June 15 in which Zhou warned the Viet Minh that its military presence in Laos and Cambodia threatened to undermine negotiations in relation to Vietnam. That represented a major blow to the DRV, which had tried to ensure that the Pathet Lao and Khmer Issarak would join the governments in Laos and Cambodia, respectively, under the leadership of the DRV. The Chinese likely also sought to ensure that Laos and Cambodia were not under Vietnam's influence in the future but under China's. Β] :581–3

On June 18, following a vote of no-confidence, the French Laniel government fell and was replaced by a coalition with Radical Pierre Mendès France as Prime Minister, by a vote of 419 to 47, with 143 abstentions. Β] :579 Prior to the collapse of the Laniel government, France recognized Vietnam as "a fully independent and sovereign state" on June 4. ⎖] A long-time opponent of the war, Mendès France had pledged to the National Assembly that he would resign if he failed to achieve a ceasefire within 30 days. Β] :575 Mendès France retained the Foreign Ministry for himself, and Bidault left the Conference. Β] :579 The new French government abandoned earlier assurances to the State of Vietnam that France would not pursue or accept partition, and it engaged in secret negotiations with the Viet Minh delegation, bypassing the State of Vietnam to meet Mendès France's self-imposed deadline. ⎗] On June 23, Mendès France secretly met with Zhou Enlai at the French embassy in Bern. Zhou outlined the Chinese position that an immediate ceasefire was required, the three nations should be treated separately, and that two governments existed in Vietnam would be recognized. Β] :584

Mendès France returned to Paris. The following day he met with his main advisers on Indochina. General Paul Ély outlined the deteriorating military position in Vietnam, and Jean Chauvel suggested that the situation on the ground called for partition at the 16th or 17th parallel. The three agreed that the Bao Dai government would need time to consolidate its position and that US assistance would be vital. The possibility of retaining Hanoi and Haiphong or just Haiphong was dismissed, as the French believed it was preferable to seek partition with no Viet Minh enclaves in the south. Β] :585–7

On June 16, twelve days after France granted full independence to the State of Vietnam, ⎘] Bao Dai appointed Ngo Dinh Diem as Prime Minister to replace Bửu Lộc. Diem was a staunch nationalist, both anti-French and anticommunist, with strong political connections in the US. Β] :576 Diem agreed to take the position if he receive all civilian and military powers. ⎘] Diem and his foreign minister, Tran Van Do, were strongly opposed to partition.

At Geneva, the State of Vietnam's proposal included "a ceasefire without a demarcation line" and "control by the United Nations. of the administration of the entire country [and] of the general elections, when the United Nations believes that order and security will have been everywhere truly restored." ⎙]

On June 28 following an Anglo-US summit in Washington, the UK and the US issued a joint communique, which included a statement that if the Conference failed, "the international situation will be seriously aggravated." The parties also agreed to a secret list of seven minimum outcomes that both parties would "respect": the preservation of a noncommunist South Vietnam (plus an enclave in the Red River Delta if possible), future reunification of divided Vietnam, and the integrity of Cambodia and Laos, including the removal of all Viet Minh forces. Β] :593–4

Also on June 28, Tạ Quang Bửu, a senior DRV negotiator, called for the line of partition to be at the 13th parallel, the withdrawal of all French Union forces from the north within three months of the ceasefire, and the Pathet Lao to have virtual sovereignty over eastern Laos. Β] :595–6

From July 3 to 5, Zhou Enlai met with Ho Chi Minh and other senior DRV leaders in Liuzhou. Most of the first day was spent to discuss the military situation and balance of forces in Vietnam, Giáp explained that while

"Dien Bien Phu had represented a colossal defeat for France . she was far from defeated. She retained a superiority in numbers - some 470,000 troops, roughly half of them Vietnamese, versus 310,000 on the Viet Minh side as well as control of Vietnam's major cities (Hanoi, Saigon, Huế, Tourane(Da Nang)). A fundamental alteration of the balance of forces had thus yet to occur, Giap continued, despite Dien Bien Phu.

Wei Guoqing, the chief Chinese military adviser to the Viet Minh, said he agreed. "If the U.S. does not interfere,' Zhou asked, "and assuming France will dispatch more troops, how long will it take for us to seize the whole of Indochina?" In the best scenario, Giap replied, "full victory could be achieved in two to three years. Worst case? Three to five years." Β] :596

That afternoon Zhou "offered a lengthy exposition on the massive international reach of the Indochina conflict . and on the imperative of preventing an American intervention in the war. Given Washington's intense hostility to the Chinese Revolution . one must assume that the current administration would not stand idly by if the Viet Minh sought to win complete victory." Consequently, "if we ask too much at Geneva and peace is not achieved, it is certain that the U.S. will intervene, providing Cambodia, Laos and Bao Dai with weapons and ammunition, helping them train military personnel, and establishing military bases there . The central issue", Zhou told Ho, is "to prevent America's intervention" and "to achieve a peaceful settlement." Laos and Cambodia would have to be treated differently and be allowed to pursue their own paths if they did not join a military alliance or permit foreign bases on their territory. The Mendes France government, having vowed to achieve a negotiated solution, must be supported, for fear that it would fall and be replaced by one committed to continuing the war." Β] :597 Ho pressed hard for the partition line to be at the 16th parallel while Zhou noted that Route 9, the only land route from Laos to the South China Sea ran closer to the 17th parallel. Β] :597

Several days later the Communist Party of Vietnam's Sixth Central Committee plenum took place. Ho Chi Minh and General Secretary Trường Chinh took turns emphasising the need for an early political settlement to prevent a military intervention by the United States, now the "main and direct enemy" of Vietnam. "in the new situation we cannot follow the old program." Ho declared. "[B]efore, our motto was, 'war of resistance until victory.' Now, in view of the new situation, we should uphold a new motto: peace, unification, independence, and democracy." A spirit of compromise would be required by both sides to make the negotiations succeed, and there could be no more talk of wiping out and annihilating all the French troops. A demarcation line allowing the temporary regroupment of both sides would be necessary . " The plenum endorsed Ho's analysis, passing a resolution supporting a compromise settlement to end the fighting. However, Ho and Truong Chinh plainly worried that following such an agreement at Geneva, there would be internal discontent and "leftist deviation," and in particular, analysts would fail to see the complexity of the situation and underestimate the power of the American and French adversaries. They accordingly reminded their colleagues that France would retain control of a large part of the country and that people living in the area might be confused, alienated, and vulnerable to enemy manipulations.

"We have to make it clear to our people," Ho said that "in the interest of the whole country, for the sake of long-term interest, they must accept this, because it is a glorious thing and the whole country is grateful for that. We must not let people have pessimistic and negative thinking instead, we must encourage the people to continue the struggle for the withdrawal of French troops and ensure our independence." Β] :597–8

The Conference reconvened on July 10, and Mendès France arrived to lead the French delegation. Β] :599 The State of Vietnam continued to protest against partition which had become inevitable, with the only issue being where the line should be drawn. Β] :602 Walter Bedell Smith from the US arrived in Geneva on July 16, but the US delegation was under instructions to avoid direct association with the negotiations. Β] :602

All parties at the Conference called for reunification elections but could not agree on the details. Pham Van Dong proposed elections under the supervision of "local commissions." The US, with the support of Britain and the Associated States of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, suggested UN supervision. That was rejected by Molotov, who argued for a commission with an equal number of communist and noncommunist members, which could determine "important" issues only by unanimous agreement. ⎚] The negotiators were unable to agree on a date for the elections for reunification. The DRV argued that the elections should be held within six months of the ceasefire, and the Western allies sought to have no deadline. Molotov proposed June 1955 then later softened later in 1955 and finally July 1956. Β] :610 The Diem government supported reunification elections but only with effective international supervision it argued that genuinely free elections were impossible in the totalitarian North. ⎛]

Geneva Conference, 21 July 1954. Last plenary session on Indochina in the Palais des Nations. Second left Vyacheslav Molotov, 2 unidentified Russians, Anthony Eden, Sir Harold Caccie and W.D. Allen. In the foreground, the North Vietnamese delegation.

By the afternoon of July 20, the remaining outstanding issues were resolved as the parties agreed that the partition line should be at the 17th parallel and that the elections for reunification should be in July 1956, two years after the ceasefire. Β] :604 The "Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities in Vietnam" was signed only by French and Viet Minh military commands, completely bypassing the State of Vietnam. ⎚] Based on a proposal by Zhou Enlai, an International Control Commission (ICC) chaired by India, with Canada and Poland as members, was placed in charge of supervising the ceasefire. Β] :603 ⎜] Because issues were to be decided unanimously, Poland's presence in the ICC provided the communists effective veto power over supervision of the treaty. ⎜] The unsigned "Final Declaration of the Geneva Conference" called for reunification elections, which the majority of delegates expected to be supervised by the ICC. The Viet Minh never accepted ICC authority over such elections, stating that the ICC's "competence was to be limited to the supervision and control of the implementation of the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities by both parties." ⎝] Of the nine delegates present, only the United States and the State of Vietnam refused to accept the declaration. Bedell Smith delivered a "unilateral declaration" of the US position, reiterating: "We shall seek to achieve unity through free elections supervised by the United Nations to insure that they are conducted fairly." ⎞]

While the three agreements (later known as the Geneva Accords) were dated July 20 (to meet Mendès France's 30-day deadline) they were in fact signed on the morning of July 21. Β] :605 ⎟]


AGREEMENT ON AFGHANISTAN SIGNED IN GENEVA

GENEVA, APRIL 14 -- With the United States and Soviet Union acting as guarantors, Pakistan and Afghanistan today signed a set of agreements under negotiation for nearly six years providing for the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan by next Feb. 15.

"History has been made today," said Secretary of State George P. Shultz, who flew overnight from Washington to put his signature on the accords together with Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze. The accords provide no cease-fire in the fighting.

"For over eight years, the Afghan people have suffered a brutal war that has brought unmeasurable death, dislocation and destruction. The world community has long sought to remove the cause of this agony -- the Soviet military occupation of Afghanistan," Shultz said at a news conference after the signing ceremony in the old League of Nations council chamber.

Overseeing the brief signing ceremony were U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar and his top political aide, Diego Cordovez, the chief mediator in the indirect negotiations between Pakistan and the Soviet-backed Kabul government, which Pakistan has refused to recognize.

Perez de Cuellar called the accords, which take effect May 15, "a major stride" toward peace in Afghanistan and said he was "confident that the signatories of these agreements will abide fully by the letter and spirit of the texts and that they will implement them in good faith."

However, both the United States and Pakistan immediately made clear that they are not ready to abide by "the letter and spirit" of the accords unless the Soviet Union carries out its troop withdrawal exactly as promised and cuts off all its military aid to the Kabul regime.

They also made clear that they regard the Afghan government that signed the accords as "illegitimate" and unworthy of diplomatic recognition.

This gave the whole ceremony something of an unreal quality, with two signatories of the accords stating publicly that they intend to violate some of the key provisions under certain circumstances and refusing to recognize the legitimacy of one of the other signatories.

Shevardnadze, at a press conference held separately from Shultz's, put a different emphasis on the meaning of the accords, saying that they represent a "political settlement of the situation around Afghanistan." He also stressed that Pakistan and Afghanistan are assuming "treaty obligations" to end all interference in each other's affairs "in any form whatsoever."

While the United States and Pakistan view the main achievement of the four interlocking Geneva accords to be the withdrawal of the 115,000 Soviet troops present in Afghanistan, the Soviet Union and the Soviet-backed Kabul government clearly see it as cutting off arms for the Afghan resistance from the United States through Pakistan.

"Only irresponsible political figures can ignore, reject or violate the norms and principles of the settlement," Shevardnadze said in what appeared to be a warning to Pakistani leaders to end the flow of American arms to the Afghan resistance through their territory.

Shevardnadze said he had told Shultz "openly and honestly the U.S. has no right to deliver arms" to the resistance any more. "There's no doubt that if the U.S. does that it will complicate a political settlement," he said.

Continued Soviet supplies to the Kabul government, on the other hand, are "on a legitimate basis" because of longstanding treaties between the Soviet Union and Afghanistan, he said.

The first agreement, signed between Pakistan and Afghanistan, commits both sides to "refrain from the promotion, encouragement or support, direct or indirect, of rebellious or secessionist activities" against each other. They also pledged to refrain from making "any agreements or arrangements with other states designed to intervene or interfere in the internal and external affairs" of each other.

Signing the accords were Pakistani Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Zain Noorani and Afghan Foreign Minister Abdul Wakil.

Even as the United States and Pakistan were signing the accords, Shultz and Noorani were making it clear that this act did not represent U.S. and Pakistani recognition of the Kabul government or an end to their support for the Afghan resistance.

They also made it clear the United States will simply ignore the nonintervention provisions of the accords and continue sending arms to the resistance if the Soviets send military supplies to the Kabul government.

At his press conference, Shultz released a statement submitted to Perez de Cuellar before the ceremony making clear the U.S. interpretation of its agreement to act as a guarantor of the accords.

The statement said that Soviet compliance with the promised withdrawal timetable is "essential" to ending foreign interference in Afghanistan but that the United States had told the Soviet Union it retains the right "consistent with its obligations as guarantor to provide military assistance to parties in Afghanistan. Should the Soviet Union exercise restraint in providing military assistance to parties in Afghanistan, the U.S. similarly will exercise restaint."

The statement also said that by signing on as a guarantor of the accords, the United States did not intend to imply "in any respect" recognition of the present Kabul regime as "the lawful government of Afghanistan."

Shultz sidestepped the question of whether the United States already recognizes the Afghan government by virtue of having a functioning embassy in Kabul.

Noorani sent a letter to Perez de Cuellar also reaffirming Pakistan's nonrecognition of the Kabul government and saying its position was the same as that of the United States regarding continuing aid to the Afghan resistance if the Soviets supply the Kabul regime.

Asked whether Pakistan would now close resistance military training camps on its territory, Noorani said that there are only refugee camps and the rebels need no training because "there is no Afghan today who needs training in warfare."

He dodged questions abut how Pakistan could live up to the noninterference terms of the accords and still help the resistance by allowing U.S. arms to pass through its territory.

He said it was "squarely on the shoulders" of the Soviets to avoid this by cutting off their own supplies to Kabul and he called the U.S-Pakistani commitment to continue sending aid to the resistance if Moscow resupplies its Afghan ally "a restraining factor" on the Soviets.

The Geneva accords have four parts, signed by different sets of countries. The first is between Pakistan and Afghanistan and contains detailed provisions barring all kinds of interference in each other's affairs.

The second is a declaration on international guarantees, signed by the United States and Soviet Union. The third is another Pakistani-Afghan accord, on the voluntary return of the estimated 5 million Afghan war refugees living in Pakistan and Iran.

The last agreement, signed by all four countries, concerns the interrelationship of the three others and ties them to the Soviet troop withdrawal timetable. The withdrawal is to begin on May 15, with half of the Soviet troops gone by Aug. 15 and all of them within nine months.

The fourth agreement also contains a "memorandum of understanding" regarding the mandate for a 50-person U.N. observer team being set up to monitor the Soviet withdrawal and the noninterference provisions.

The chamber where today's signing took place saw another ceremony 34 years ago, when France signed an agreement providing for its withdrawal from Indochina. The building is now called the Palais des Nations and houses the United Nations' European headquarters.

April 1978: The Marxist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan overthrows the Afghan republic headed by Mohammed Daoud and installs Nur Mohammed Taraki as president. Daoud, his family and hundreds of his supporters are killed. The armed noncommunist resistance begins.

Feb. 14, 1979: U.S. Ambassador Adolph Dubs is kidnaped and killed in Kabul.

March 12, 1979: The National Liberation Front, a Moslem group, calls for a jihad, or holy war, against the Kabul government.

July 1979: The Soviets deploy their first combat unit in Afghanistan, just north of Kabul.

September 1979: Prime Minister Hafizullah Amin gains control of the government after a shootout at the presidential palace.

October 1979: The official Kabul news media announce Taraki's death.

Late December 1979: A massive Soviet airlift involving thousands of troops begins. Soviet commandos attack the presidential palace, Amin is killed and Babrak Karmal becomes president.

January 1980: The Soviets deploy 40,000 more troops in Afghanistan. (Troop strength eventually reached 115,000, according to western estimates.) The United Nations General Assembly votes 104 to 18 for a resolution demanding an "immediate, unconditional and total withdrawal of foreign troops."

June 1982: In Geneva, U.N. Undersecretary for Political Affairs Diego Cordovez conducts the first indirect peace talks between officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan. Kabul represents the Soviets and Islamabad speaks for the Afghan resistance.

April 1984: Soviets, for the first time, conduct saturation bombing of guerrilla strongholds and villages.

August 1984: Pakistan lodges protests with the Kabul government over repeated aerial bombing and cross-border shelling.

May 1985: The International Institute for Strategic Studies in London estimates the Soviets have suffered 20,000 to 25,000 casualties in the five-year-old war. In Peshawar, Pakistan, fundamentalist Moslem guerrillas join a grouping of moderates to form a seven-party Islamic alliance.

May 1986: Karmal steps down, reportedly for health reasons. Western observers contend it is due to Moscow's dissatisfaction at his failure to defeat the armed resistance. He is succeeded by Najibullah, a former chief of state security.

July 1986: Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev announces plans to withdraw six regiments from Afghanistan. Washington later says the forces mainly were unnecessary antiaircraft units, and were replaced by armored regiments.

September 1986: Guerrillas reportedly receive their first U.S. Stinger and British Blowpipe antiaircraft missiles. Within months, they reportedly shoot down an average of one enemy aircraft a day.

January 1987: Najibullah declares a unilateral cease-fire as part of a new program of national reconciliation. It is ignored by both sides, and the guerrillas reject any power-sharing with the communists.

October 1987: A survey conducted by Geneva University professor Marek Sliwinski for Gallup Pakistan estimates that more than 1.2 million Afghans have died in the war. The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 2.9 million Afghans have fled to Pakistan and 2.3 million to Iran.

December 1987: One of Gorbachev's chief advisers tells reporters he expects the Soviet Union to pull out of Afghanistan in 1988.

January 1988: Pakistani President Mohammed Zia ul-Haq declares his acceptance of some communist involvement in a future Afghan government as the price for a Soviet withdrawal. Cordovez begins a 20-day diplomatic shuttle mission between Islamabad and Kabul.

February 1988: Gorbachev offers to withdraw Soviet troops beginning May 15 and ending 10 months later, if a Geneva accord is signed by March 15. Cordovez meets for the first time with Afghan guerrilla leaders. He concludes his shuttle mission in Islamabad, announcing near-agreement on terms of a Soviet pullout and a new round of Geneva talks starting March 2.

March 1988: Indirect talks between Islamabad and Kabul resume with U.S. and Soviet delegations standing by. Agreement is reached that Soviet troop withdrawal must be completed within nine months once it starts. But negotations continue past Gorbachev's March 15 target date.

April 1988: Agreement is reached for signing an accord in Geneva on Soviet troop withdrawal, return of refugees and other issues.


Geneva Accords - History

By February 1953, Norodom Sihanouk was ready to make his move and consolidate his authority over Cambodia. As part of what he called his "royal crusade for independence" the young king traveled to France and demanded complete Cambodian sovereignty. When the French ignored his requests (to no one's surprise), Sihanouk hit the road, visiting Europe and the United States as part of a brilliant PR campaign. With each stop the king lambasted the French while boasting how he would not make enemies the communist Viet Minh forces. His travels were followed by a self-imposed "exile" near the ancient city of Angkor. The French, who were losing the war with Ho Chi Minh's forces, were in no position to stop Sihanouk antics, so in October they allowed the king to declare Cambodia's independence. France maintained some authority over economic policy, but foreign affairs and the military were now in the hands of Sihanouk.

As Sihanouk's independence movement gained momentum, France suffered its greatest Indochina defeat with the battle of Dien Bien Phu. In the spring of 1954 besieged French troops were decimated in the far northwest of North Vietnam over the course of 55 days of bombardment. Though the Viet Minh lost over 8000 men killed in battle (more than twice that of French killed) Dien Bien Phu proved to be the death knell for France in Indochina - it was only a matter of time before they would be forced to leave forever. The once mighty French empire was soundly humiliated and forced to negotiate full independence with all of its former colonies, including North Vietnam, Laos and Sihanouk's Cambodia.

In what the world hoped would be a final settlement to the Indochina conflict, Geneva played host to peace accords in May 1954, just as the Dien Bien Phu siege was coming to an end. At the July conclusion of the accords, Vietnam was recognized as two separate, sovereign governments: a communist North Vietnam led by Ho Chi Minh, and a pro-French South Vietnam led by prime minister Ngo Dinh Diem, who had been appointed by emperor Bao Dai. The Geneva accords also proclaimed that Laos and Cambodia would be guaranteed their right to remain neutral, nonaligned nations. Yet as many in the West prayed the fighting was now over, Sihanouk made no such assumptions. He concluded it would take a strong leader to keep Cambodia out of any future Vietnamese war, and in Cambodia no one was as strong a leader as he.

The Geneva accords also scheduled Cambodia's first national democratic elections. This spelled trouble for Sihanouk, for as a constitutional monarch he would have few real powers in the new democratic government. Following the conclusion of the Geneva accords, King Sihanouk stunned the world and abdicated the throne, giving the crown to his father, Prince Suramarit. By relinquishing his claim to the monarchy, Prince Sihanouk (as he was now known) was free to pursue his political aspirations and run for office. There was a high likelihood of Sihanouk winning the election given his popularity among the masses - his face was one of the only recognizable faces on the ballot for many rural Cambodians. But the prince took no chances: he closed opposition newspapers while his police force roughed up opposition leaders. As Sihanouk told one journalist, "I am the natural leader of the country. and my authority has never been questioned." (Chandler, A History of Cambodia, p 185)

Sihanouk also created his own political movement, Sangkum Reastr Niyum (People's Socialist Community), and made a not-so-subtle hint to the political establishment that any good Cambodian would be proud to join it. If you wanted to become a Sangkum member, though, you were required to dissolve any relationships you had with other parties. The Sangkum was a severe blow to the three major opposition parties, including the so-called Liberals, a conservative group made up of landowners and business leaders the Democrats, left-wing activists who supported a modern, French-style republic and the Pracheachon, a pro-communist party made up of monks, teachers, and French-educated intellectuals. Many Cambodians, especially the Liberals and Democrats, quickly joined the Sangkum, abandoning their former parties in the fear of appearing to be against this burgeoning national movement. Even Khieu Samphan, the scholarly communist student who studied in Paris, joined the Sangkum in order to increase his political profile and personal security privately, though, he remained a steadfast communist.

In 1955, Prince Sihanouk was elected the Cambodian head of state. Some opposition leaders maintained a precarious grip on power through their positions in the national assembly, but Sihanouk did his best to intimidate and humiliate all of them. The prince would often employ the tactic of making rousing speeches to the assembly, whose majority was loyal to him, and then present the minority opposition members with an offer to lead Cambodia if they thought they could do a better job than he. No one ever dared to take him up on the offer. On some occasions these assembly sessions reached such a fever pitch the opposition were beaten up by mobs afterwards. By 1963, Sihanouk's overwhelming authority and strong-arm tactics had purged much of the opposition out of politics, causing some of the Pracheachon politicians and their communist supporters to flee for their lives into the Cambodian wilderness. Among these exiles were Son Sen, Ieng Sary and Saloth Sar, who had returned to Cambodia from France to become active members of a secretive communist movement initially supported by North Vietnam. Though none of the three men openly participated in public politics, they feared their subversive communist activities had been compromised when their names were published on a list of "34 subversives" compiled by the Sihanouk government. The three soon escaped into the wilderness of eastern Cambodia and vanished. Sihanouk was glad to be rid of these oppositionist troublemakers, whom he later labeled rather mockingly as "Red Khmers" - or in French, les Khmer Rouges.

Sihanouk ruled with an iron hand, but he delegated powers to his loyal ministers so he could concentrate on his favorite hobbies, including jazz saxophone, filmmaking, magazine editing, and having affairs with foreign women. Yet the Cambodians of the countryside loved him - the god-kings of Angkor weighed heavily in the collective social conscience. For the foreseeable future Sihanouk was invincible and he knew it. Not unlike the other peoples of Southeast Asia, Cambodians were long accustomed to singular, autocratic leadership. As Frances FitzGerald described in her Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnam narrative Fire in the Lake, many rural Southeast Asian peoples traditionally saw their leaders as having a "mandate from heaven." These leaders would have the loyalty of the people until someone powerful could come along and knock off the old leader decisively, thus demonstrating that the mandate from heaven had shifted to themselves. From 1955 to 1970, Prince Norodom Sihanouk was the only viable leader in Cambodia. He was also the only man whose political ruthlessness could manage to keep Cambodia out of the coming war that would ravage Vietnam and Laos. Cambodia was at peace, and for the moment, Sihanouk maintained his mandate from Heaven.


Geneva Agreements

The Geneva Agreements of 1954 (also, "Geneva Accords") arranged a settlement which brought about an end to the First Indochina war. The agreement was reached at the end of the Geneva Conference. A ceasefire was signed and France agreed to withdraw its troops from the region. French Indochina was split into three countries: Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Vietnam was to be temporarily divided along the 17th Parallel until elections could be held to unite the country. These elections were never held following repeated refusals to hold nationwide elections by Ngo Dinh Diem and his declaration of leadership of a new state, South Vietnam, the Vietminh established a communist state in the North led by Ho Chi Minh. The US gave Diem considerable support in the form of financial aid due to the corruption evident in his regime, and the question of the depth of support for him in Vietnam, there was a certain amount of reluctance in doing so. ΐ]

Walter Bedell Smith, US representative at the Conference, read a statement on July 21, 1954, in which the US' willingness to abide by the terms of the agreements was implied, and it promised to "refrain from the threat or use of force to disturb" them. Ώ] Specifically, the statement seemed to promise not only US acquiescence to the mandated elections, but aid in executing them.

In the case of nations now divided against their will, we shall continue to seek to achieve unity through free elections Ώ]

Black propaganda operations by the CIA commenced within ten days of Smith's announcement the leaflets dropped on Hanoi were so convincing, that Vietminh denouncements of them were believed by even the Communist party faithful to be French trickery. Registration by Vietnamese wanting to go south to French territory increased threefold, and Vietminh currency halved in value, within days of the leaflet drop. Α]

Aspects of the Conference that have been the subject of controversy include whether it constituted a partition of Viet Nam, the transfer of responsibility for abiding by the agreement from the French representative for Viet Nam, Bảo Đại, to his largely self-appointed (and US-backed) successor Ngo Dinh Diem, and similarly, the extent of US responsibility for abiding by an agreement it did not sign. ΐ] Α] Β]


What is Common Article Three?

This article of the Geneva Conventions bars torture, cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment, as well as outrages against the human dignity of prisoners of war, or POWs. Until recently it remained unclear whether the article applied to CIA interrogators, located overseas, who were questioning high-ranking members of al-Qaeda and other so-called “unlawful enemy combatants.” In July 2006, the Supreme Court ruled in its Hamdan decision that this article does indeed apply to top terror suspects detained in CIA-run prisons as well as at Guantanamo Bay. "Quoting [Common Article Three] is like quoting the Bible for international lawyers," says Peter Danchin, a Columbia University legal expert.


Geneva Accords - History

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are international treaties that contain the most important rules limiting the barbarity of war. They protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war). .

The Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols are part of international humanitarian law – a whole system of legal safeguards that cover the way wars may be fought and the protection of individuals.

They specifically protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, chaplains, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war).

The Conventions and their Protocols call for measures to be taken to prevent (or put an end to) what are known as "grave breaches" those responsible for breaches must be punished. The Geneva Conventions have been acceded to by 194 States and enjoy universal acceptance.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: Complete by Sunday 4-26 for full credit.

Has the "War on Terror" made the Geneva Accords regarding rights of civilians impractical or are they still necessary?

44 comments:

I don't think that we can call the outlines of the convention impractical. While they are necessary steps for securing rights of defenseless individuals, the basic principals of the convention are still being broken everyday, in and out of the war on terror. Governments including our own are committing atrocities involving prisoners and interrogation and in some extreme cases where the government is unstable or compromised with radical leadership, worse. While it is my hope that as a global society we can strive to correct such wrong doings, it is not at all possible.

No, the "War on Terror" has only heightened the need of the Geneva Accords regarding the rights of civilians. Although foreign civilians are often a part of the threat in suicide bombings, all civilians are the targets of these and all other terror attacks. Therefore, a much greater percentile of civilians are the victims, not the aggressor, and must still be protected. While the many civilians may be in danger because of those few aggressors, completely obliterating the protection of civilians during war under the Geneva Accords would put civilians worldwide in a much greater, immediate, and lasting danger as acceptable casualties of warfare. That tragedy can never be allowed to happen again.

The "War on Terror" has not made the protocols of the Geneva Conventions impractical, instead the war has in my opinion ignored the rules. We are fighting against an organization of people, however we have no idea where they reside. Based on leads that may or may not be correct, we kick down doors, invade innocent homes with weapons and in many other ways impede on the rights of civilians.

The accords are in every way still necessary. In some ways, they are more necessary than they were previously. We cannot shove them aside, because even is some civilians, wounded and sick people may be guilty, there are still those who are not.

Jeff Keating
Period: 8
The rights regarding Civilians of the Geneva Accords have not been altered and for that matter should not be altered based upon the warfare in the middle east. It is true that many of the suicide bombers are in fact civilians, but they also associate with Al Queda. This justifies the use of violence against such individuals. As for the incorporation of civilians into the protection of their own country it is just standard action. If a country is incapable of protecting its own people, there may be a need/justification for military support. Otherwise there is no need for a such a presence. The Middle East's military and police were in fact incapable of supporting their own people in the earlier portion of the war which is why the U.S took action to train the individuals to deal with such ordeals such as insurgents and Al Qeda. If it was not for those factors not only would all civilians in the middle east, but the majority of those countries would have long since turned into vigilante wastelands where Al Qeda and terrorism held the civilians under a rule of terror and fear. If there was no threat against the safety of the civilians then there would be no justification for the involvement of civilians there is currently.

The war on terror has made the rules made by the Geneva convention even more necessary because if they are not upheld, innocent people could be unlawfully punished for doing nothing. These laws are necessary to prevent unlawful activity comitted by the U.S. army and or its allies. Even though the U.S. is dealing with terrorists, it should make sure it upholds these laws to retain its honor and dignity.

I believe that the "War on Terror" has definitely made the line between who is protected and who isn't very murky since in Iraq and Afghanistan there have been many roadside bombings caused by civilians. Some times, these innocent looking civilians end up hurting or killing soldiers fighting in the war. I don't think that this style of fighting has made the Geneva Conventions impractical but it definitely needs some revision to include situations like the one in the Middle East. The "War on Terror" is a totally different war from past wars, with all the new technology, and so it needs to be approached in a new and different manner. There needs to be a way to distinguish between civilians so that a soldier will know if he/she might be in harm's way by a person who seems harmless at first sight.

For this "war on terror" the conventions are rather impractical. Our enemies hide and meld with the civilians because they know that soldiers can't touch them. Then when soldiers aren't around, they attack. This is like how the Vietnam war went against the Viet-kong, and what happened? We lost. Horribly. That's because a lot of the time, our troops couldn't even tell enemy from civilian.

I think the war has caused some stressed on these rights. You do not know who is a terrorist and this could cause you to hurt people that shouldn't be touched. I think they do their best to find the people that they have suspision that they are terrorist. This could cause innocent people to be hurt.

The "war on terror" has not made the Geneva convention impractical. Civilians should be protected during times of war and so should the wounded. Even if some of the civilians may be the enemy, not all of them are and not all civilians can be treated as hostile.
Evan Kennedy
Class 2

Katie Fragoso per 2
While the rights of civilians had been temporarily taken away during war such as in the civil war, it was only to a certain degree. It did not mean that they were no longer protected the citizens simply did not have as many rights which would distract the fighting. Overall, rights should never be taken away. We live by an ideal of being innocent until proven guilty, so the Geneva convention is important to insure that although people may seem guilty, they should not be cruelly tortured as they could easily be innocent. This should still apply to this "War on terror," because it is very hard to distinguish the terrorists from citizens as they do not have formal army identification. therefore, civilian houses should not be terrorized and bombed unless there is hard evidence. There are always exceptions, however the rights should still be applied.

I think that the War on Terror has made the Geneva Accords regarding rights of civilians impractical. In special circumstances where generally everywhere is hostile I think that it's impractical to be able to protect civilians, medics, chaplains etc. I think it more necessary to be sharp and treat everything as a threat. In this type of environment I find it impossible to fully disregard anything as safe. Anything questionable should be handled. For example, you cannot pass by a hospital building just because its a hospital. If something is going on. It's fair to take action even it involves hurting civilians. However, in the most effective manner should "grave breaches" ever occur. Safety of civilians should be a priority but not over our safety.

i have mixed feelings about the implementation of the Geneva convention rules. on one hand, while it may be hard to govern many of the rules in the war on terror, i think there still needs to be guidelines of war in order to limit at least some of the potential violence. on the other hand, it can be said that due to the protection of civilians, the US has been unable to apply the proper amount of force to the terrorists that may be necessary to end the war once and for all (that is what helped solidify our victory over japan in WW2). taking a more ruthless approach and abandoning the Geneva convention rules may in fact lead to less bloodshed in the long run. it is difficult to say whether or not the rules have become impractical in the war on terror.

The Geneva Accords are valuable assets to anyone located in or nearby warring countries.They prevent the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians. It's a sort of guarantee that makes people feel safe and confident. This is a good idea, but it advertises a fallacious message, that there is a proper way to kill other people. Unfortunately, war is an inaccurate monster, in which we may not regulate every single soldier. Collateral damage is therefore unavoidable, and the accords are therefore ineffective. Unless, there is purposely mass killings of innocents, these codes are only going to hinder our progress, especially in the war on terror. A war in which most enemies are not soldiers but civilians themselves, what are we to do? It's a dirty war we're fighting, not against a country but an ideal. In order to blow away terrorism we must crush there will with the very terror they so happily bestow upon us. Stop ourselves with the unfortunate accidents of a few, and it may cost us the lives of many.

The Geneva Accords are still necessary for "The War on Terror" because it protects innocent people. Although every soldier might not follow the guidelines of the treaty, for the most part it is necessary and should be kept in place as it stands.

being that the war on terror is fought in places where people live and work, i feel that the Geneva Accords are extermely neccassary. people are all around the fighting therefor placing them in and around the war. these citizens should feel as safe as possible and if attacked or harmed then the person should be punished. there is no reason that citizens, medics, and the injured should be protected as much as possible which is way the accords are in place.

I think that certain aspects of the Geneva Conventions, like the protection of innocent civilians, should be maintained and are still necessary. However, I do believe that when fighting terrorists certain parts are impractical and should be ignored to ensure homeland security. For example prisoners of war should not be treated the same as normal prisoners of war because the goal of terrorists is to kill us whereas the goal of non-terrorist enemies is to obtain something like more land, they will only try to kill you if you interfere with their goal, however a terrorists only goal is to kill you therefore it is crucial to get as much information out of every terrorist we capture even if torture is necessary, our security may depend on it.
Jason Howell
Class 8

The Geneva Accords is still necessary in today's society because this conventions protects US. citizens/soldiers and other countrys citizens. It should not be legal to capture a prisoner in war and be able to torture them, that is not ethical. We need to treat prisoners fairly even if they are fighting against the US. Because our soldiers could just as well be capture, and the soldiers who capture them will think our reasons for war are wrong as well. The Geneva Conventions is vital in today's world.

I find the Geneva Accords impractical in today's society. The Geneva Accords should protect everyone who is a citizen in Geneva, whether if they are fighting in the military or just a civilian. I find it significant for the Accords to protect anyone who does not partake in a "grave breach".

I do not believe that the war on terror has made the rights regarding the Geneva Convention impractical by any means. If anything, the war on terror has strengthened the need for these rights. Despite the fact that many civilians are the enemy, like suicide bombers, for example, there are many innocent civilians who must be protected. Although it could be argued that there are many cases in which these rights should NOT be used, I believe there are too many innocent civilians for these rights to be disregarded.

The "War on terror" has made the Geneva accords more important then ever. They protect the civilians from the effects of war. if we did not have the Geneva Convention innocent people would be dragged into something they were not apart of. Although it is sometimes hard to distinguish civilians from enemies the Geneva helps prevent innocent people from being attacked.

Because of the ongoing war in the middle east the Geneva Accords have become more necessary than ever. People who are not fighting in the war deserve to be safe from it. This is not always followed and should be more enforced, now more than ever. There may be civilians that aren't perfectly innocent of the "grave breaches" but you can't generalize them everyone there because there are those who are innocent.

The Geneva Accords cannot be totally disregarded because there are some aspects of it that work. I think that there should be some sort of compromise, such as revising them instead of getting rid of them all together. These accords are put in place for the civilians and it protects them. If these rights were not in place many of them would have died unjustly or could in the future.

I think the Geneva Accords are still necessary because cilivans are being hurt everyday during the war. People are breaking into homes and bothering innocent families. This is clearly violating the rules of the Geneva Accords and I think that they need to be taken more seriously. It's not fair that these people need to suffer when we are invading their territory. The Geneva Accords need to be enforced to save the innocent, which is exactly what we aren't doing now.

They are of course still practical as all rules are going to be broken. How well they are enforced is really what matters. No matter how much the Geneva accords are tested, outlines prevent them from being pushed too far. Every laws have leeways, but calling them impractical is in itself impractical. Although civilians themselves are causing the deaths of many, it is civilians as a whole we must protect. We can never have 'acceptable' casualties.

The War on Terror has only highlighted that we still need the Geneva Accords. If these rules are forgotten about or simply ignored then civilan death rates will just soar. Ignoring the Geneva Accords is not the answer and is not impractical. We are fighting this war to protect citizens.

The "War on Terror" has made the Geneva Accords regarding rights of civilians necessary. In bombings, innocent civilians can be wounded or killed. I think it is important that these people are protected. I don't think the Geneva Accords are at all impractical. They could help save many lives, which means they are necessary.

I think that despite the circumstances, the Geneva Accords are still practical. Protecting innocents is crucial at times of war. If I were a civilian injured in war I would want the Genva Accords to apply to me. I believe that the Geneva Accords should be maintained to keep war organized and civil.

The rights of civilians under the Geneva Conventions should still be maintained. "The War on Terror" should make the 194 states realize that although some countries do not believe in the Geneva Convention and their protocols, we should not retaliate and drop to their levels. We have gone into Iraq and surrounding countries to maintain civilian peace and eliminate the enemies. If we were to go against the Geneva Conventions and their protocols in Iraq, many innocent people would have died and that is not what the objective of this convention was for. The Geneva Accords are still necessary and all countries in the world should be involved because lives are too valuable to be lost.

In my opinion i believe that the war on terror is not something that would make the Geneva Accords unneccesary, but extremly neccesary. For example,people who are not involved in war or need to be protected could be threatend due to suicde bombers or random acts of violence.These laws are needed for people who are put into situations were they have a high risk of being killed, and by inforcing these laws it can help protect millions of lives.- Chris Caulfield

The Geneva Accords have been broken again and again. In every war they have been ignored or stretched to the point where they become moot. They should not be forgotten, but instead, we should be working harder to uphold them. Innocent people die every day, and a lot of those deaths could have been prevented. The majority of civilians don't even know what the war is about.

The Geneva Conventions still need to be in effect today because of what is going on in wars all over the world. In Iraq innocent people are being killed for no reason at all. In Darfur, a massive genocide is taking place and none of those people have never done anything wrong. The rules under the Geneva Convention need to be enforced, especially to help innocent people.

to fight the war on terror successfully we would have to consider the conventions impractical. the type of war these terrorists fight is guerrilla tactics and ruthless devotion based from a religious jihad. our enemy is ruthless, and we must match him. they will stop at nothing, and they show no regard for the conventions, we must answer their style of brutal tactics with our own. these people want to hurt us, and not just our soldiers. they want to hurt us, our mothers, our fathers, our children, us. they dont look at faces, they believe that every dead american will get them 100 virgins in paradise, they are taught to kill us with fanatacism to please their religion. there god rewards those who destroy infidels, against this foe no measure taken could ever be too much. this war will be fought on every level possible, regardless of old conventions.

War has never followed the rules, in our country it is illegal to murder, yet when we go to war everything changes. Why would anyone expect soldiers to follow any rules? The War on Terror has not made the Geneva Accords impractical, because they never were. The Geneva Accords are wishful thinking for the poor civilians who get caught in the cross fire. Of course there are countries who have men that live and die by those rules, however the people we need to be worried about like the suicide bombers do not live or die with dignity or any sense of justice. Thus, simple words on paper can not keep crazies from going on a killing spree. This doesn't mean there should not be a correct code of conduct for war, because if no one is willing to set there is no standard few will make the right choice on their own.Sadly not too many people will do the right thing unless it is the law, and even then they go against the law and do something unintelligent and immoral by killing innocent people.

The war on terror has not made the Geneva convention impractical. I feel this way because no matter the circumstances whether youre wounded or a regular civilian caught up in the war, you have the right to be protected. Not all civilians are guilty of being "a threat." There are still the select amount who are just as innocent as anyone else, and they certainly dont deserve to be treated with disrespect or as if they are "terrorists"

The "war on terror" has not made the Geneva convention impractical, in my opinion it has made it even more neccessary. We are figthing a war against terrorists and although these people are not always "the governemnt" we do not have a right to go and attack civilians. It is our responsibility to leave the civilians alone and focus only on the people who are a threat to our country. Governments should make a commitment to abide by the Geneva Accords in a state of war and protect the civilians.
Annie Fletcher Per 2

i dont think that the outlines of the convention are impractical. THey are necessary to secure the rights of citizens. This convention can sway foreign leaders into correcting what they did wrong.

I believe that the "War on Terror" made the Geneva Accords regarding rights of civilians made them impractical. It is hard to make sure that everyone is following these rules therefore there are certain circumstances that the Geneva is there to enforce safety among the innocent. This definitely should still apply to the “war on terror” because it is hard to distinguish who are terrorists and who are innocent in this type of war. We should be extra cautious and make sure that they are not killing suspicious terrorist when really they were innocent by standers. Everyone rights should be protected and unless there is hard evidence then people should be left alone.
Stephanie Jarvis
History 2

The "War on Terror" has only made the Geneva Accords more necessary. The lifes of the civillains are still important cause there is still many suicide bombings. The war doesnt take into account the civillains lifes and it needs to be put first.

Without these universal guidelines War would have no limit. In many cases such as Hiroshima, innocent civilians were killed. Our first retaliation to 911, innocent civilians were killed. I believe the "War On Terror" brings the need for the Geneva Accords even more. Although I feel America applies this rule within our states, I think after the many innocent killed during the "War On Terror", America should reevaluate and strengthen the rules of the Geneva Accords.

The Geneva Accords-Rights of civilians are still necessary because they protect people that are not fighting. Without these rules of war there would be much more civilian casualties. These rules are important because the War in Iraq is mostly fought in town filled with civilians.

i do not think that the war on terror has made the Geneva convention impractical. i think that the wounded and people in the war should be protected under all circumstances. Not all of the citizens are enemies. it is not fair to just group everyone in that category. what about those civilians who are innocent?

The War on Terror has proved that the Geneva Accords are still necesary today. Each day in Afganistan many cililivans and medics perish because of the war that is going on. Without these rights, civilians would have no protection, although it is hard to say that in a war zone civilians are going to be looked out for and not killed. If there is a war going on, there isn't organization only killing. Also since the war is on terror, there are often suicide car bombings. This shows how some sides have no care for the well being of civilians. However, these acts are stil needed to keep down the killing of civilians and medics as much as possible. After all, killing a medic or civilian is one of the most dishonerable things a soldier can do. Cameron Gehrman Class 2

The war on terror has only made it more necessary to have the outlines of the convention. The war on terror has affected the civilians of middle eastern countries more thatn anyone. We need to protect these poor people, and the only way to do that is with the outlines of the convention.

i do not think that these codes of war should be put in. sure i do think it is very important to protect the lives of our inocent however there are simple no rules for war. you do what you have to do. "never fight like a gentalmen, casue gentalmen dont fight." we cant put rules or "guidelines" to something as complex and serious as war.


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