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• that at the conclusion of a battle all belligerents should provide the
enemy with information about the dead, wounded and prisoners.
However, any modification would need another international conference
for this purpose. The organization of such a conference was seriously
impeded by wars, the most significant of which was the Franco-Prussian
War of 1870, which resulted in the fall of Paris and the capture and deposition
of Napoleon III. Several attempts were made at various congresses to
amend and improve the Geneva Convention. However, the disappearance
of Napoleon III from the politics of Europe restored the influence of the
obstructive French high command over the treaty negotiations. Political
and diplomatic wrangling, mostly on the part of the French and the Austrians,
delayed further progress.
SECOND GENEVA CONVENTION
Largely under the impetus of the Empress Eugenie, Napoleon III’s widow,
amendments extending the terms of the Geneva Convention to war at sea
were proposed, but it was not until the second Geneva Convention of 1906
that this term actually came about.
A history of the Geneva Conventions would not be complete without at
least a passing reference to the two Hague Conventions, which, to some
extent, supplemented the Geneva Convention of 1864.
The first Hague Convention was negotiated in 1899. It was inspired by
the Russian Ministers of War, Finance and Foreign Affairs. Russia found
itself well behind in the arms race then in full swing among the European
powers, all of whom were bent on furnishing their armed forces with the
latest and most advanced weapons of destruction produced by Krupps,
Skoda, Vickers-Maxim and Schneider-Creusot. The Russians were
in despair at the prospect of having to spend money they did not have in
order to match the expansion of the arsenals of their traditional European
The ministers approached the czar, Nicholas II, in the summer of 1898.
The young czar immediately sent off a circular letter to all the governments
represented at St. Petersburg, proposing a conference to attempt to reach an
agreement for the limitation of armaments. The spectacle of the Czar of All
the Russias proffering an olive branch was received by the great powers
with a mixture of astonishment and disdain. The Prince of Wales, soon to
become Edward VII, unburdened himself of the opinion that “it is the