Higher Education Resources

International humanitarian law (IHL) is a set of rules which seek to protect persons who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities and restricts the means and methods of warfare. IHL is also known as the “law of war” or the “law of armed conflict.” It is part of international law which governs relations between nations and is contained in agreements between nations (treaties or conventions), as well as customary norms followed by nations out of a sense of legal obligation. While covered at the higher educational level, lessons on international humanitarian law fit in many subject areas and have been integrated successfully with many different models for years.

Why teach IHL at the higher education level?

International humanitarian law (IHL) is everyone’s concern. In a world where warfare and civil strife are a daily reality for millions, IHL provides a framework to protect civilians and wounded as well as sick or captured combatants. The post 9/11 world, with its conflicts and new complexities, demands from students a sound understanding of global realities. However, results from a 2011 American Red Cross survey reveal a lack of understanding about the rules of war among American youth. Learning about IHL contributes to developing global competencies and other skills essential for today’s workforce: critical thinking and communication skills, information literacy, global awareness, cultural sensitivity, and civic responsibility. Appreciation and understanding of the rule of law is also a critical goal identified in the AAC&U report, College Learning for the New Global Century in order to prepare students for responsible citizenship in a well-ordered democratic society.

Where does IHL fit?

IHL is relevant to multiple courses of study: Political Science, Pre-law, History, Global Studies, International Studies, Social Work, Human Rights, Humanities, Social Justice, Military Science, Anthropology, Psychology, American Studies, Religious Studies, and Int’l. Criminal Justice.

What resources does the American Red Cross offer to support teaching about IHL?

  • The Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program is a free, online flexible toolkit of teaching tools and resources that can be integrated into existing courses suitable for secondary educators as well as faculty in higher education. Hands-on educator workshops and trainings are available to become familiar with the curriculum and integrate material into courses.
  • The American Red Cross supports a network of volunteer IHL instructors around the country.
  • The American Red Cross collaborates with colleges and universities to organize and support student events, including weekend workshops.
  • The ability to connect you to a trained IHL educator or instructor and to a network of community education speakers for brief presentations on IHL topics.
  • Access to expert speakers in IHL to complement your teaching including contemporary issues of IHL that you may be addressing in your courses (i.e. cyberwarfare, drones, child soldiers, sexual violence in armed conflict, etc.)

Where can I find more resources on IHL for higher education?