Engaging with students and professors on the issue of sexual violence in armed conflicts - workshop

Group work on case studies from "How does law protect in war?" allows students to apply the Geneva Conventions to concrete issues related to sexual violence, such as criminal repression © ICRC / T. Gassmann

How can universities help raise awareness of the issue of sexual violence in armed conflict? Based on its reference publication "How does law protect in war?", the ICRC has designed a key tool to answer this question, in the form of a half-day workshop combining a film, presentations, group work and discussion.

The workshop is intended for use in law faculties, as well as in other training programmes. It enables students and teachers to explore the legal and practical issues linked to sexual violence. It focuses on applicable international rules in humanitarian law, human rights law and criminal law, while also addressing some of the causes and consequences of sexual violence and encouraging participants to think about the appropriate humanitarian response.

You can download the workshop materials via the links below:

The four-hour workshop is divided into two parts:

  • An interactive presentation including a film, images and quizzes
  • Group work using real cases taken from the IHL study guide How does law protect in war?

This approach aims to involve teachers and students alike by getting them to apply the law to real-life events.

Questions put to participants include the following

  • "Can sexual violence constitute torture?" 
  • "Are acts of sexual violence against men unlawful?"
  • "What are the practical obstacles to prosecuting acts of rape and sexual violence in armed conflicts?"

Students will have the opportunity to discuss such issues and come up with solutions together.

Feedback about the workshop has been very positive from students and teachers in the past:

The workshop was very well structured, very practically oriented,

said Diego Rodríguez-Pinzón, co-director of the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Washington College of Law, American University.

Marcia Porras Garzón, a student who attended the workshop, confirmed this:

The best way to learn is when you apply the concepts to a practical area.. 

The workshop material covers everything that lecturers need in order to incorporate the subject into their course. The material is also suitable for use at conferences or panel discussions in their universities. The ICRC encourages lecturers and researchers to contribute to teaching, research and debate in their various academic institutions around the issue of sexual violence.

To get a better understanding of what such a workshop could look like, please watch this short clip:


PDF file
263.42 KB

sexual violence workshop presentation

ZIP file
6.78 MB

sexual violence workshop structure

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112.62 KB

sexual violence workshop user guide

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100.54 KB

workshop reading list

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289.17 KB