July 1906: Review Conference of the Geneva Convention at the Geneva Parliament Hall

Since its creation in 1863, the ICRC works to develop and implement international humanitarian law (IHL) which seeks to limit the effects of armed conflict.

The First Geneva Convention was signed in August 1864, at an international diplomatic conference convened by the Swiss Federal Council upon request by the ICRC. This Convention was extended in 1906 and 1929. In August 1949, the four Geneva Conventions, as we know them today, were adopted. Additional Protocols were added to the Geneva Conventions in 1977 and 2005. A range of other international agreements and protocols covering specific areas have since widened the application of humanitarian law.

Given the nature of contemporary armed conflict, the implementation and enforcement of IHL entails challenges in several areas. More and more, parties to the conflict hire private military and security companies to outsource roles that were traditionally played only by armed forces.

Confronted with these difficulties, ICRC and the Swiss Government have initiated a joint international initiative to clarify the role these companies are playing and should be playing in armed conflict. In 2008, the Montreux Document was the result of this process. The Montreux Document is an intergovernmental document intended to promote respect for international humanitarian law and human rights law whenever private military and security companies are present in armed conflicts.

To learn more:

History of the ICRC

International humanitarian Law

Page navigator