Palestine’s application to join the Geneva Conventions has been accepted and the other member countries have been informed, a spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry confirmed on Friday. The request was formally registered on Thursday.
Also on Thursday, Palestinian applications to join 13 other conventions were accepted by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Among these were conventions governing diplomatic relations, children’s rights, corruption and prohibition of torture.
Switzerland is the caretaker of the Geneva Conventions and their protocols, which form the basis for international humanitarian law. Among other things they govern humanitarian operations in conflict zones, protecting civilians, medical personnel, the injured and sick, and prisoners of war.
In November 2012, Palestine acquired observer status at the United Nations, providing access to various international conventions.
In light of the conflict with Israel over the West Bank and the Gaza strip, the Palestinians are particularly interested in the 4th Geneva Convention, part of which states that "the Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies".
Palestine’s ambassador in Geneva, Brahim Khraishi, told the Swiss News Agency that membership would allow the Palestine Authority to “put pressure on Israel to respect its international commitments” under the Geneva Conventions.
Israel has argued that the Geneva Conventions forbidding colonisation of occupied land shouldn't apply because the area is not universally accepted as a state in its own right.
The Geneva Conventions were originally created in the 19th Century by the International Committee of the Red Cross, which is based in Switzerland, and have been updated a number of times.
swissinfo.ch and agencies