Geneva Conventions Additional Protocol I

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Offered for signature in 1977, Additional Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions extended prisoner of war protection to fighters that do not wear insignia and hide in a civilian population, which its proponents argued were a military necessity for insurgent groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organization. Extending POW coverage was consistent with the views of international human rights activists, and also fit a "no gaps" model that appealed to the Red Cross. Its Part IV does contain language forbidding attacks against civilians.[1]

U.S. opposition, in the Reagan Administration but also in much of the press, reflected Reagan's observation that Protocol I was "fundamentally and irreconcilably flawed" and would "endanger citizens in war." The Washington Post editorialized "we must not, and need not, give recognition and protection to terrorist groups as a price for progress in humanitarian law."[2] The argument was shared by many major powers.


  1. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8 June 1977, International Committee of the Red Cross
  2. "Hijacking the Geneva Conventions", Washington Post, February 18, 1987, p. A18