The Economist examines whether or not the Geneva conventions and their later protocols are suited to today's conflicts.
Walk the calm, well-heeled streets of Geneva and there seems little to connect this metropolis in neutral Switzerland with the genocidal slaughter in Rwanda and the rape camps of Bosnia in the 1990s, or the appalling violence lately inflicted on civilians caught up in fighting in Darfur, Chad or eastern Congo. Yet decisions taken in Geneva do have an effect, both legal and humanitarian, on people in benighted places-and the world would be much happier if the effect was far greater.
The city is the UN's humanitarian hub, headquarters to both its refugee and human-rights agencies. More memorably, though, it lends its name to a clutch of conventions, adopted six decades ago this month, initially with the horrors of two world wars in mind. Those agreements still form a bedrock for the laws of war and the protection of non-combatants.