The American Red Cross is calling on high schools around the country to teach classes on international humanitarian law, the laws that govern the conduct of armed conflict (such as the Geneva Conventions), protect noncombatants and outline the role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.
The American Red Cross has produced a “Exploring Humantiarian Law” curriculum made up of five modules that meet the National Social Studies Standards. The lessons explore issues such as students’ understandings of war, possibilities for limiting suffering in conflict, the role of outsiders, child soldier issues, military justice and provision of humanitarian assistance.
“The United States plays an important role in foreign affairs,” said the American Red Cross. “Accordingly, international humanitarian law should be taught in our schools to ensure we continue to understand and observe the limits of armed conflict.”
The laws of armed conflict, including the Geneva Conventions, Hague Conventions and other treaties and traditions limit the way military forces can act in war. While it may seem counterintuitive, the concept behind humanitarian law is that while war causes enormous suffering, it is possible to limit it through honorable conduct by soldiers and providing aid to victims. To learn more about international humanitarian law, click here.
Over 11,000 people have signed an American Red Cross petition calling on school district superintendents to “educate students about international humanitarian law.” They hope to get 50,000 total signatures. To sign the petition, click here. Call your local school district and request them to incorporate such issues into the social studies curriculum.