GENEVA – All 194 nations in the world have signed the Geneva Conventions on the conduct of war, making it the first time in modern history that a treaty has won universal acceptance, the international Red Cross said Monday.
"At this point in time and for the first time in the history of the Geneva Conventions, all states with full sovereignty have acceded to the treaty," said Stephane Hankins, spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The last two nations — Nauru in the South Pacific and newly independent Montenegro — became full members this summer, according to a statement by the ICRC, which is the guardian of the 1949 accord. Nauru agreed to the treaty on June 27 and Montenegro on Aug. 2, the statement said.
The four conventions, which cover different aspects of warfare and occupation, make a vital contribution to "the protection of human dignity and the preservation of humanity in the midst of war," said a statement by the ICRC.
Under the accord the neutral body provides aid to the wounded, visits prisoners of war, relays messages to their families and stresses to occupying powers their obligations under international law.
The ICRC, which most recently has been demanding Israel and the Hezbollah protect civilians in the Mideast fighting in Lebanon and northern Israel, said it wanted to use the occasion of the full acceptance of the treaty to remind countries "of their obligation to abide by the laws of war."