University of Minnesota

World Medical Association, Regulations in Time of Armed Conflict (1956; 1983).


Adopted by the 10th World Medical Assembly Havana, Cuba, October 1956, Edited by the 11th World Medical Assembly Istanbul, Turkey, October 1957 and
Amended by the 35th World Medical Assembly Venice, Italy, October 1983
1. Medical Ethics in time of armed conflict is identical to medical ethics in time of peace, as established in the International Code of Medical Ethics of the World Medical Association. The primary obligation of the physician is his professional duty; in performing his professional duty, the physician's supreme guide is his conscience.
2. The primary task of the medical profession is to preserve health and safe life. Hence it is deemed unethical for physicians to:
a) Give advice or perform prophylactic, diagnostic or therapeutic procedures that are not justifiable in the patient's interest.
b) Weaken the physical or mental strength of a human being without therapeutic justification.
c) Employ scientific knowledge to imperil health or destroy life.
3. Human experimentation in time of armed conflict is governed by the same code as in time of peace; it is strictly forbidden on all persons deprived of their liberty, especially civilian and military prisoners and the population of occupied countries.
4. In emergencies, the physician must always give the required care impartially and without consideration of sex, race, nationality, religion, political affiliation or any other similar criterion. Such medical assistance must be continued for as long as necessary and practicable.
5. Medical confidentiality must be preserved by the physician in the practice of his profession.
6. Privileges and facilities afforded to the physician must never be used for other than professional purposes.

A. 1. Under all circumstances, every person, military or civilian must receive promptly the care he needs without consideration of sex, race, nationality, religion, political affiliation or any other similar criterion.
2. Any procedure detrimental to the health, physical or mental integrity of a human being is forbidden unless therapeutically justifiable.
B. 1. In emergencies, physicians and associated medical personnel are required to render immediate service to the best of their ability. No distinction shall be made between patients except those justified by medical urgency.
2. The members of medical and auxiliary professions must be granted the protection needed to carry out their professional activities freely. The assistance necessary should be given to them in fulfilling their responsibilities. Free passage should be granted whenever their assistance is required. They should be afforded complete professional independence.
3. The fulfillment of medical duties and responsibilities shall in no circumstance be considered an offence. The physician must never be prosecuted for observing professional confidentiality.
4. In fulfilling their professional duties, the medical and auxiliary professions will be identified by the distinctive emblem of a red serpent and staff on a white field. The use of this emblem is governed by special regulation.

Home || Treaties || Search || Links