Exploring Humanitarian Law

War is a lot more complicated than a video game. Students need the skills to understand when conflict intersects with the rights and protections of people—at home and abroad.

Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) is an adaptable toolkit that gives educators easy-to-use materials to expose students to issues of international humanitarian law, the rules that ensure respect for life and human dignity in war. The toolkit offers educators primary source materials and strategies that reinforce and enrich existing curricula and educational programs.

“It is essential to understand and respect the rule of law because that defines what we are about as a nation and the leader of the free world. When others do not respect or follow the law, it is even more important that we remember who we are and what we stand for as a country. The American Red Cross EHL program helps young people understand not only what is legal, but also what is right.”

.– Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, Dean of the Academic Board, United States Military Academy at West Point

Why Bring Exploring Humanitarian Law into the Classroom?

Aligned with social studies requirements around the country, Exploring Humanitarian Law offers educators activities that can be used as a whole or mixed and matched into current lessons. High-quality materials, including news accounts, photos, letters, videos, case studies and interactive projects bring real events and people to life, helping teachers connect lessons of the past with events of today. Since 2002, the materials have been introduced to schools in more than 40 countries.

Humanitarian law is a body of international law that aims to protect human dignity during armed conflict and to prevent or reduce the suffering and destruction that results from war. All nations are party to the Geneva Conventions, and therefore have a legal obligation to encourage the study of humanitarian law as widely as possible. These laws, together with the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child, should be viewed as an integral part of today’s basic education.

Through EHL, students build analytical skills as they explore different perspectives on the rules of conflict, the effects war has on human life and their personal connections to it. They grapple with complex questions that do not have easy answers.

A solid understanding of humanitarian law empowers students to explore, question and understand the complicated issues related to war and the rights and protections of people affected by it.

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