Examine the nature of the weapons used in an armed conflict that you are learning about in your history studies.
- What scientific or technological developments made them possible?
- How did the types of weapons used affect combatants and civilians?
- What expectations, rules or traditions influenced their use?
- What happened to these weapons after the armed conflict had ended?
- Using the figures in “A look at the consequences,” answer the following questions and explain your calculations.
- On average, how many people per year are injured or killed by mines and other explosive devices left behind after war?
- How much will equipping a six-year-old child with an artificial limb, or limbs, until the age of 18 cost?
- If the parents of that six-year-old child earn 40 US dollars a month, what percentage of their yearly income will be spent on the child’s artificial limbs alone?
Make up a math problem of your own.
Write a story or a diary entry, or develop a short dramatization in response to some of these questions:
- What activities do you perform every day, and what would it be like to relearn them if you were to suddenly lose a limb?
- What would it be like to do farming or fetch water or gather wood if you had only one arm or one leg or were blind or deaf?
- How would life be different if explosive remnants of war were scattered around your community?
Select one of the girls profiled in the video Landmines keep killing (Vanna or Amelia) or someone else who appears in it and make up a story in which that person is the main character. The events in the story should take place after that person has been maimed by a landmine or an explosive remnant of war.
Read this essay by a student from Bosnia and Herzegovina and write a letter to him or to someone else of your choosing. Or write an essay of your own, inspired by his.
Night. Snowy, cold and quiet. I’m in bed and reading. Suddenly a detonation, somewhere outside. All of us in the house look at each other, exchanging thoughts in our eyes. There is no voice. The war is still in our hearts, souls, and in our memory. Somebody says: ‘Most probably an animal stepped on a mine over in the field.’ We continue to rest. And I’m thinking: Spring will come soon, warm nights full of temptation to go for a walk. But where to go? Mines are all around us. Our fields, meadows, forests are most probably covered with mines. And that could probably ruin my life, or somebody else’s life, youth, beliefs, love.
I want to run through fields with my girlfriend, I want to pick the first violet for her. I want to lie in the grass and watch the sky for hours, I want to dream. I’m only 18. I have somehow managed to survive this dirty war. But, I wonder whether I have really survived. Should all my life be permanently marked with the word ‘MINE’? Mines are all around us. The enemy placed warnings on every corner. Instead of posters announcing rock concerts, sport competitions or fashion shows, my school is covered with posters ‘MISLI MINE.’
How long will it last? I want to walk freely, to be free, to once and for all forget the words: WAR…DANGER…MINE… FEAR. I’m demanding, I’m asking all those who can help to clear our meadows from mines, replace them with ants, rabbits, crickets, couples in love, children’s play. Because, remember, it is not only one life in question, one arm or a leg, but it is thousands and thousands of cases. That is why I’m asking you to help us and Bosnia.
– Admir Mujkic from Velika Brijesnica
Source: Canadian Red Cross, Learning Activities
Identify an organization in your area or in your country that is doing work related to mines or explosive remnants of war. Find out more about their work and present this information to the class.
What needs to be done in this village to help victims and to prevent more accidents?
The village was on the front line during the war. As the army occupying the village wanted to prevent the rebels from coming back for food and supplies, they mined the surrounding forest. Today the war is over, but the mines remain. Unexploded grenades and other explosive remnants of war are also still left in the areas of fighting.
The inhabitants of the village know that the forest is mined but depend on it for firewood for heating and cooking. As a result, they are killed or wounded by a blast when they enter the forest to gather wood. Some children have even died while collecting scrap metal.
There are also former checkpoints in the village that were not cleared of mines and explosive remnants of war when the army left. Although the areas have been marked with the sign “Danger! Mines!” children still play there.
Working in small groups, design a plan for dealing with these problems. The plan could include medical assistance, mine clearance, informing the villagers about the risks they face (in school, for adults, etc.) and rehabilitation programmes. Explain for whom each of these activities is designed.
Present the plan to the rest of the class. Make a map of the village to illustrate the situation.
Make a cartoon or a poster to inform people about international humanitarian law (IHL) rules for one or more of the weapons presented in “IHL rules on certain other weapons.”
Explore the ways in which advances in science or technology have affected the means of waging war.
What are some of the positive and negative ways in which science can be used to tackle the challenges associated with weapons and warfare?
We are standing on the verge of a massive revolution in the life sciences and biotechnology, and if we look back in human history, any advance in science or technology, whether it be electricity, chemistry, aviation, nuclear physics, at some point that advance has been turned to hostile use to create new weapons. So we have to ask the questions: What is going to happen if the advances in life sciences and biotechnology are also turned to hostile use? Are we going to see new forms of biological weapons used which could maybe target people more specifically, with more specific and subtle effects? Are we going to see new weapons which could maybe change people’s behaviour, for instance?
In 2002 the ICRC launched an initiative to draw the attention of governments and the scientific community to the risks involved and also to the relevant rules of international law that must be upheld whatever the scientific advances. The ICRC initiative also appeals to scientists to make absolutely sure that the outcome of their research is not used to produce new abhorrent weapons.
– Dr Robin Coupland, Medical adviser, ICRC
- Can you think of any advances in science and technology that have been exploited to make new weapons?
- Is this development inevitable or can you think of ways to prevent it from happening?
Look at ideas found in “Taking action: Some examples.” Develop several polling questions to find out what people may think about the use of developments in science and technology to create new weapons that may violate IHL.
Decide what categories of people you will poll (students, teachers, parents medical workers, scientists and engineers). Conduct your poll. Tally your results. Report your findings.
Develop a set of questions to raise with local leaders or doctors. Select whom to interview and make appointments for your interviews. Work with a partner who can take notes or record the interview. Write up your interviews and share what you have learned with others.