International Humanitarian Law for the General Public

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Inspiring and Engaging the Next Generation of Humanitarians

Even in war there are limits. The Geneva Conventions protect civilians, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers. Humanitarian principles are at the core of the Red Cross mission; wartime humanitarian action was at the heart of the creation of the Red Cross. Continuing this work requires inspiring and engaging the next generation. The American Red Cross helps people in the United States to understand and respect international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles.

The Geneva Conventions

On August 12, 1949, the four Geneva Conventions, in their current form, came into being. Now adopted by every nation, these laws place basic limits on how war is waged – protecting civilians, wounded and sick combatants, and prisoners of war. They are the cornerstone of international humanitarian law and are forever linked to the Red Cross. In fact, the American Red Cross’s Congressional Charter specifies that the organization is a “Federally chartered instrumentality of the United States,” and charges us with carrying out the “purposes of the Geneva Conventions” dating back to the original convention in 1864. It is the duty of the American Red Cross, on behalf of the people and the government of the United States, to help ensure that these humanitarian principles are widely understood and respected.

International Humanitarian Law Education in Schools

Humanitarian principles are at the core of the Red Cross mission, and continuing this work requires inspiring and engaging the next generation. Even in war, there are limits. The Geneva Conventions protect civilians, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers. The American Red Cross helps people in the U.S. understand and respect these laws.

Our Exploring Humanitarian Law program provides teachers with activities and lesson plans that easily integrate into social studies or history curricula as well.