Attacks on civilians, torture, the use of child soldiers or biological weapons—all are prohibited in war. But not everyone is familiar with the international humanitarian laws that govern armed conflict. To introduce students to the concepts and content of these rules, EDC and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) developed the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program. The newly launched EHL Virtual Campus Web site helps teachers bring this program to classrooms around the globe.
“The Web site was set up in response to a growing demand by teachers for help in bringing the law of war into the secondary school classroom,” says Nicole Martins-Maag of the ICRC. “We hope that international humanitarian law will eventually be included in secondary school curricula around the world and become part of the basic education given to teenagers. Education authorities must become closely involved in bringing EHL to young people.”
Barbara Powell, who directed the EHL Virtual Campus project for EDC and who has been involved with training teachers to use the EHL program since 1999, adds, “It is so inspirational to see how teachers put the program into action. My hope is that the teacher training—live and online—enhances teachers’ skills and confidence in their role as explorers and that the Web site will be a hub of conversation among EHL teachers.”
Students in 60 countries participate in the EHL program. They receive 30 hours of interactive classroom activities, exploring an array of ethical and humanitarian issues—from child soldiers and war crimes to prisoners of war and missing persons. The materials, which are based on both history and current events, show how international humanitarian law aims to protect life and human dignity and reduce and prevent the suffering and destruction that result from war. The program encourages students to understand the need for humanitarian norms and to develop an interest in local and international events.
Originally published on September 1, 2007