In international law, multilateral treaties, once concluded, are usually entrusted to a depositary – normally a State or an international organization – charged with assuming a variety of functions, including the receipt of instruments of signature, accession, ratification, reservation etc. Once received, the depositary notifies all relevant parties about the instruments deposited and may, if the treaty so specifies, be charged with additional functions.

The Swiss Federal Council is the depositary of the 1949 Geneva Conventions and its  Additional Protocols of 1997 and 2005.