This teaching resource allows young people to explore issues of justice and fairness through the lense of international humanitarian law (IHL) or the “laws of war”.
This resource enables young people to see the bigger picture in conflict situations and approach controversial issues through different perspectives.
It also helps them to see the links between people in crisis situations around the world, themselves and their wider communities.
The resource is specifically designed for Key Stage 4, 14-to-16-year-olds, and can also be used in informal youth education settings.
What are the modules about?
Module one: Ambiguity of identity in armed conflict
Part one: Victim or perpetrator? To target or to protect?
Part two: Young people and violence, peer pressure and personal accountability
Module two: conflict lines
This module enables young people to view international humanitarian law (IHL) as if they were directly involved in the real-life situations explored in the module.
Module three: Wars have limits - proportionality, distinction and humane treatment
Module three encourages young people to use and build on the main principles of IHL by applying them in the context of an imaginary military scenario.
Module four focuses on enforcement of IHL by exploring issues such as “what constitutes a war crime?”, and looking at the types of courts and institutions involved in the process through the lens of real life case studies.
How does learning about IHL benefit young people?
Young people are surrounded by images and stories of conflict and the human and social devastation this can cause.
Working through the activities provided in these modules will equip young people with skills that will help them approach information from multiple perspectives as critical young adults.
They can then be motivated to take action through involvement in school or local community activities that aim to protect and promote humanitarian attitudes and values.
Why teach about IHL?
Fairness and justice are key concepts within national curricula.
In England, IHL is a requirement of the statutory citizenship curriculum. IHL is also included in the citizenship studies GCSE examination specifications for all of the major examination boards.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland there are also important references to local and global conflict.
These lesson plans and activities provide an accessible route to exploring these issues in the classroom in an interactive and stimulating way.
What skills does it develop?
These modules give students the chance to build their skills, values and attitudes, such as:
- thinking critically
- listening to others
- respectfully challenge the ideas and perceptions of others
- expressing your opinion
- working as part of a team
- recognising interconnections
- exploring assumptions
- making decsions
- identifying a range of appropriate actions
- assessing need
- dealing with complex situations
- being flexible and adaptable
- developing knowledge
- problem solving
- debating, discussing and reasoning
These skills are developed through:
- exploring ambiguity
- challenging images and case studies
- collaborative and independent learning
- moving from the simple to the complex
- putting yourself in someone else’s shoes
- use of relevant contexts and experiences
- looking at events through other people’s perspectives
- exploring and evaluating different types of sources and evidence
- exploring chains of events or the consequences of a decision/action
- exploring dilemmas.