Young People and IHL: Exploring Humanitarian Law
Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) is a resource pack for teachers to introduce students aged 13 to 18 to the basic rules of international humanitarian law. It was designed by the CICR in close association with the Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). The learning materials, which provide 36 hours of activities, are based on real-life situations and show how IHL aims to protect life and human dignity during armed conflict and prevent and reduce the suffering and devastation caused by war.
The materials expose students to IHL by exploring ethical and humanitarian issues arising from armed conflict. By studying the behaviour of actual persons and the dilemmas they experience, young people develop a fresh perspective and begin to understand the need for rules during war and the complexity of their application. They also acquire an understanding of different perspectives and an interest in local and international events, opening the door to active participation in the life of their community.
EHL is not explicitly concerned with peace, tolerance, mutual understanding, prevention of violence or conflict resolution. It emphasizes the positive changes in attitude stemming from ideas related to respect for life and human dignity, civic responsibility, and solidarity. Thus, EHL can be incorporated into a wide range of different subject areas that fall under the broad heading of citizenship education. Its teaching methods reinforce many important academic and life skills, such as communication, team-work, disagreeing respectfully, reasoning, research, problem-solving and critical thinking.
We have a choice today. We can either sit back, watch the devastation wrought by war and try to make our children look the other way; or we can choose to tell our children that what they see – or what they are themselves experiencing – is not acceptable, that this is not how it is supposed to be, and that they can behave differently, in ways inspired by deep-rooted respect for human dignity, both in peacetime and in the midst of armed conflict.
Jacques Forster, ICRC Vice-President, European Leadership Education Conference on Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL), Vienna, May 2006.
EHL resource packs are available in 19 languages. A methodology guide in English spells out the teaching methods underpinning EHL.