Introduction: Introductory Discussion Questions

    Human Dignity

  • What is human dignity? How would you define it?
  • What does human dignity mean in times of armed conflict?


  • What images come to mind when you hear the terms ‘war’ or ‘armed conflict’?
  • What wars are going on in the world today?
  • What past wars do you know about?
  • What is war?

    Means and Methods of Warfare*

  • Should the use of any weapons be prohibited or restricted in armed conflict? Why?
  • Should certain ways of fighting be prohibited in armed conflict? Why?

*Probing why certain means (weapons) and methods (modes) of warfare are regulated highlights two fundamental rules of international humanitarian law: (1) the prohibition against causing superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering, and (2) the prohibition against indiscriminate attacks. Based on these rules, the use of certain kinds of weapons has been prohibited (e.g. biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines) or restricted (e.g. incendiary weapons) and certain methods of warfare have been prohibited (e.g. ordering or threatening that there shall be no survivors, terrorizing or starving the civilian population).

    The Idea of 'Enemy'

  • How would you define an ‘enemy’?
  • Does an enemy ever deserve to be protected during armed conflict?


  • What is a civilian?
  • How should civilians be treated during armed conflict? Why?
  • Are civilians ever attacked?
  • Can attacks on civilians ever be justified? How?
  • What if a civilian is bringing food to enemy combatants?
  • What if a civilian is providing the enemy with weapons?


  • Why do boys and girls sometimes take part in armed conflicts?
  • Is it acceptable that children take part in war? Why?

    Wounded Combatants

  • How do you believe a wounded enemy combatant should be treated?

    Captured Combatants

  • How should a captured enemy combatant be treated? Why?
  • What if that person has harmed someone in your family?
  • Is it permissible to torture a captive to obtain information? If so, under what circumstances?


  • Are women involved in fighting? What do you think about that?
  • Should there be rules that specifically protect women affected by war? What types of protection would women need?

    Other Protected Persons

  • Does anyone else need special protection in times of war? Who? Why?

    Protected Places in Times of War

  • Are there places that should not be attacked? Which places? Why?
  • Is it ever acceptable to attack hospitals or medical facilities? Why or why not? (If yes, under what circumstances?)
  • Is it ever acceptable to attack places of religion? Why or why not? (If yes, under what circumstances?)
  • Is it ever acceptable to destroy people’s homes, towns, or public works? Why or why not? (If yes, under what circumstances?)


  • What is law?
  • Where does it come from?
  • Do you think it is reasonable to have laws to limit the suffering caused by armed conflict? Why or why not?
  • Do any such laws exist?
  • If they do, what do they say?

    Humanitarian Organizations

  • Do you know of any organizations whose job is to protect and assist people during war?
  • Which ones? What do they do?