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Paxium unveiled in the UK to teach ‘rules of war’

19 February 2010
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Heron Holloway
telephone: +44(0)207 877 7520 / email: / 07659 145 095 (out of hours)
On Tuesday (23 February 2010), 92 secondary school students will take part in a role-playing activity, Paxium, to learn more about international humanitarian law (IHL), or the ‘rules of war’. Organised by the British Red Cross and law firm Allen & Overy, 15 and 16 year-olds from nine schools from across the UK will, through Paxium, explore the rights of non-combatants, the difficulty of humanitarian decision-making and the preservation of human dignity during times of conflict.

This is the first time that Paxium has been used in the UK, and has been adapted from the very successful version used by the Canadian Red Cross as a tool to explore IHL with young people.

The role-playing activity concerns the fictional nation of Paxium and the events that unfold as it descends into civil war. The activity starts with the whole group working together as one country. Then civil war breaks out and the group is abruptly divided into two factions. Every participant has a specific role in the activity, and bulletins and communiqués ‘arrive’ from the field which further shape and complicate the situation.

The two sides eventually come up with rules of war and all the scenarios that unfold reflect current issues and concerns about the treatment of prisoners and civilians, landmines, child soldiers and war crimes prosecutions. The activity concludes with a full debriefing and discussion about how the situations that played out in Paxium relate to the real world and IHL.

Paxium will be one of the activities taking place as part of the wider ‘Justice and fairness’ symposium run by British Red Cross and Allen & Overy on 23 February 2010. This is just one element of the long-term partnership between Allen & Overy and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Andrew Ponton, Head of Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education at Thurston Community College, is to be one of the attendees at the symposium with his students. He said: “The concept of justice is at the heart of the Citizenship curriculum and by students learning the ideas of equality amongst nations they will be able to translate those ideas into concrete solutions to ensure equality not only on the world stage but in their communities.”

Earlier this academic year (September 2009), the Red Cross and Allen & Overy launched a new education resource to be used by teachers delivering the IHL aspects of the Citizenship curriculum.

The resource, developed by a team of lawyers from Allen & Overy, and education specialists from the British Red Cross, includes a series of interactive lesson plans designed to stimulate debate on IHL and wider topics around justice and fairness.

The inclusion of IHL in the revised Citizenship curriculum is the result of three years of advocacy work by the British Red Cross.
To download the education resource or to find out more about all aspects of the ‘Justice and fairness’ partnership between the Red Cross and Allen & Overy, visit

Notes to editors

> Allen & Overy is an international legal practice with around 5,000 staff including some 450 partners working in 33 major centres worldwide It is supporting the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as its first ever global charity partner
> The partnership between Allen & Overy and the IFRC will run for three years, from 2009-2011
> The partnership, co-ordinated by the British Red Cross, supports the work of the IFRC and Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies
> The partnership will support British Red Cross develop and provide new humanitarian education resources helping thousands of young people explore the subjects of international law, justice, fair treatment and humanity

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.

We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on with their lives.