Article 4 of the
Third Geneva Convention
A. Prisoners of war, in the sense of the present Convention, are persons belonging
to one of the following categories, who have fallen into the power of the enemy:
1. Members of the armed forces of a Party to the conflict as well as members of
militias or volunteer corps forming part of such armed forces.
2. Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those
of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating
in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided
that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements,
fulfill the following conditions:
(a) That of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates;
(b) That of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;
(c) That of carrying arms openly;
(d) That of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs
3. Members of regular armed forces who profess allegiance to a government or an
authority not recognized by the Detaining Power.
4. Persons who accompany the armed forces without actually being members thereof,
such as civilian members of military aircraft crews, war correspondents, supply
contractors, members of labor units or of services responsible for the welfare
of the armed forces, provided that they have received authorization from the armed
forces which they accompany, who shall provide them for that purpose with an identity
card similar to the annexed model.
5. Members of crews, including masters, pilots and apprentices, of the merchant
marine and the crews of civil aircraft of the Parties to the conflict, who do
not benefit by more favorable treatment under any other provisions of international
6. Inhabitants of a non-occupied territory, who on the approach of the enemy spontaneously
take up arms to resist the invading forces, without having had time to form themselves
into regular armed units, provided they carry arms openly and respect the laws
and customs of war.
B. The following shall likewise be treated as prisoners of war under the present
1. Persons belonging, or having belonged, to the armed forces of the occupied
country, if the occupying Power considers it necessary by reason of such allegiance
to intern them, even though it has originally liberated them while hostilities
were going on outside the territory it occupies, in particular where such persons
have made an unsuccessful attempt to rejoin the armed forces to which they belong
and which are engaged in combat, or where they fail to comply with a summons made
to them with a view to internment.
2. The persons belonging to one of the categories enumerated in the present Article,
who have been received by neutral or non-belligerent Powers on their territory
and whom these Powers are required to intern under international law, without
prejudice to any more favorable treatment which these Powers may choose to give
and with the exception of Articles 8, 10, 15, 30, fifth paragraph, 58-67, 92,
126 and, where diplomatic relations exist between the Parties to the conflict
and the neutral or non-belligerent Power concerned, those Articles concerning
the Protecting Power. Where such diplomatic relations exist, the Parties to a
conflict on whom these persons depend shall be allowed to perform towards them
the functions of a Protecting Power as provided in the present Convention, without
prejudice to the functions which these Parties normally exercise in conformity
with diplomatic and consular usage and treaties.
C. This Article shall in no way affect the status of medical personnel and chaplains
as provided for in Article 33 of the present Convention.