This course is one 45-minute session.
- To become aware that, in many places and during many periods, people have created codes and applied traditions to limit the devastation caused by war
- To learn of some written and unwritten examples of historical prohibitions and requirements to show the relationship between the realities of war and the evolution of humanitarian norms
- People’s efforts to limit the brutality of war are universal.
- History contains numerous examples of rules that aim to restrain the use of violence in order to reduce unnecessary suffering and destruction.
What is the Earliest Evidence of Rules for Armed Conflict?
Encourage students to speculate on this question and discuss their ideas. (There is no one right answer; the point to stress is that attempts to lay down such rules go far back in time.)
Remind them that rules need not be written down; an unwritten practice of which everyone is aware is also a rule if everyone is expected to follow it.
Make the Basic Rules of IHL Memorable
Have students in small groups develop short phrases or slogans to summarize each of the basic rules of IHL and make the rules memorable.
[For example, "Spare surrendering soldiers," "Care for the sick and wounded," "Respect the emblem."]
Present “Codes and traditions of warfare.”
[For example: people who are not involved in the fighting or are no longer involved in the fighting – 'non-combatants' – are protected; the use of some weapons is regulated]
[For example: codes that reflect warriors' honour]
Compare these historical rules with the basic rules of modern IHL.
Note the Diverse Origins of the Rules
On a map of the world, have students locate the areas these historical rules come from.