The Swiss Minister to the Secretary of State .


Mr. Secretary of State: My Government has instructed me to request your excellency (as I hereby have the honor to do) to inform me whether the Government of the United States of America thinks that the time has arrived for a revision of the Geneva Convention (Conference), according to the wish expressed by the conference at The Hague, and whether it is disposed to be represented at a conference to be convoked by the Swiss Federal Council for this purpose in the course of the present year.

I am at the same time instructed to send your excellency the six inclosed copies of the printed paper containing the “Statement of some ideas to be examined for the revision of the Geneva Convention.” This statement is but a cursory view of the questions to which my Government now desires to call the attention of the Governments, without pretending to limit the deliberations of the conference which is to busy itself with this matter.

Awaiting the communication which it will please your excellency to send me in relation to this question, I avail myself, etc.,

J. B. Pioda,
Minister of Switzerland.

statement of some ideas to be examined for the revision of the geneva convention.

A.—Propositions relating to the text of 1864.

To declare the persons employed in sanitary work neutral under all circumstances, and not only “when they are acting and when there are wounded persons to be taken up and succored” (art. 2).
To declare sanitary material neutral to a greater extent (art. 1).
To give a precise definition of the word “ambulance” (art. 4).
To proclaim the cessation of neutrality:
For the persons employed in sanitary work, if they commit hostile acts otherwise than in self-defense, they not being forbidden to bear arms (art. 2).
For sanitary material, if it is diverted from its normal destination (art. 1).
To abolish the provisions relative to the inhabitants of the seat of war (art. 5).
To oblige every army on the retreat to leave, on the field of battle and in its hospitals which have been taken by the enemy, a part of its personnel and of its sanitary appliances, in order that its wounded may be cared for (art. 3).
To stipulate that the personnel mentioned in No. VI. (art. 3):
Shall not have the right to facilitate the return of their wounded to their own army.
Shall act under the superior authority of the enemy.
Shall be treated, their grades being equal, like the sanitary personnel of the enemy as regards pay and subsistence.
To guarantee that the wounded shall be protected on the field of battle, after a combat, from pillage and ill treatment (art. 6).

B.—Sundry propositions.

To require:
That the inhumation or incineration of the dead shall be preceded by a careful examination of their bodies.
That every officer or soldier shall bear upon his person a mark whereby his identity may be established.
That a list of the dead, wounded, and sick who have been taken by the enemy shall be sent, with as little delay as possible, by said enemy to the authorities of their country or their army.
To declare neutral, on certain conditions to be determined hereafter, the personnel and the matériel of civil organizations devoted to the care of wounded soldiers.
To make the use of the sign of the red cross on a white background a legal monopoly, to be extended in time of peace to certain civil organizations to be designated hereafter.
To provide penalties for violations of the provisions of the convention.
To adopt the most indispensable measures for bringing the provisions of the convention and the penalties incurred by those violating them to the knowledge of the troops and of the people.