November 23, 2009 The Geneva Conventions at 60 Is Subject of Dec. 3 Program At the Library of Congress

Public Contact: Leon Scioscia (202) 707-1496
Contact: Library of Congress press contact:Audrey Fischer (202) 707-0022 | American Red Cross press contact:Mat Morgan (202) 303-4342

The Geneva Conventions are a series of agreements first formulated at an international convention held in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1864, establishing rules for the treatment of prisoners of war, the sick and the wounded. One of its 10 articles also protected the symbol of a red cross on a white background. Negotiated in the aftermath of World War II, the Geneva Conventions of 1949 updated the terms of the first three treaties and added a fourth treaty to protect civilians. These four treaties have been adopted by all 194 nations of the world.

To mark the 60th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, the Law Library of Congress, the American Red Cross and the Friends of the Law Library of Congress will present a 90-minute program titled “The Geneva Conventions at 60: Taking Stock” at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 3. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held in Room LJ119, located on the first floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. Advance reservations are required. Contact Barbara Moore, 202-707-9834 or

Law Librarian of Congress Roberta Shaffer will introduce Rep. Thomas J. Rooney, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Phillip Carter. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will deliver a brief recorded message on the Geneva Conventions.

The discussion will begin with a brief history of the origins of these ground-breaking treaties and the role played by the Red Cross. The panel will examine the Conventions’ roots as the foundation of international humanitarian law and the challenges the treaties face today.

The American Red Cross, an organization that traces its roots to the Civil War, was chartered by Congress in 1905 to provide aid to wounded and sick soldiers in wartime in accordance with “the spirit and conditions of” the Geneva treaties. An independent and neutral humanitarian organization that provides relief to victims of disaster and helps people to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, the American Red Cross is also part of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, the largest humanitarian network in the world.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at and via interactive exhibitions on a personalized Web site at

Founded in 1832, the Law Library makes its resources available to members of Congress, the Supreme Court, other branches of the U.S. Government and the global legal community, and sustains and preserves a universal collection of law for future generations. With more than 2.6 million volumes, the Law Library contains the world’s largest collection of law books and other resources from all countries and provides online databases and guides to legal information worldwide through its website at www.loc/gov/law/.


PR 09-240
ISSN 0731-3527