The Geneva Conventions, originally ratified in 1864, were a set of agreements made by nation-states to be upheld during times of war. This included granting protection to people providing aid to wounded soldiers, the immunity of wounded and sick soldiers from capture, equal treatment for all combatants and recognition of the red cross symbol.
Despite many nations ratifying the Geneva Convention, during WWII not all state parties upheld this international standard. In 1948 a conference was held to strengthen and amend the provisions. The conference developed four conventions which were endorsed in Geneva on 12 August 1949.
The four conventions, commonly referred as the Geneva Convention, include principles for the treatment of armed forces on land and sea, prisoners of war and civilians.
In Australia, the Geneva Convention is given effect in our domestic law through the Geneva Conventions Act 1957.