Module 3 took up the subject of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), and students discovered why such violations occur. They learned about the dilemmas that may arise in applying the law and the difficulties related to responsibilities, using a case study.
Module 4 is designed to broaden students’ understanding of the ways in which IHL is implemented. It presents a number of ways of dealing with IHL violations, such as bringing perpetrators to trial, uncovering the truth, reconciliation and forms of reparation.
Exploration 4A first asks students to consider some reasons for dealing with violations of IHL. It then invites them to explore ways of doing this and touches upon the responsibilities of the different actors involved.
This course is two 45-minute sessions.
- To understand how dealing – or not dealing – with IHL violations can affect the well-being of a society after armed conflict
- To recognize that there are a number of ways of dealing with IHL violations
- People who commit grave breaches of IHL must be tried and punished.
- The responsibility for enforcing IHL lies primarily with governments, but others can play a significant role as well.
- Bringing perpetrators to trial is not the only way to deal with violations of IHL.
Choose the question you will use for the writing assignment in step 1.
In the Methodology Guide, review teaching methods 1 (Discussion), 7, (Writing and reflecting), 9 (Small groups) and 10 (Gathering stories and news). If possible, view the relevant chapter of the training film for teachers (Module 4).
What should be done when the law has been broken? | 25 minutes
Begin a class discussion based on situations familiar to students.
[For example: breaking 'house rules' or 'rules of friendship'; flouting certain generally accepted moral principles.]
Continue the discussion with examples of breaking the law.
Use recent examples from local news. For every example, ask students to offer possible reasons for it.
Expand the discussion to situations of armed conflict.
Select one of the two questions in the table below. Ask students to recall serious violations of IHL that they know of before choosing one of the answers listed. Tell them to write down the reasons for their choice.
Should people who break the rules of war be punished?
When the war is over, should people who have broken the rules of war:
Discuss the question and the views expressed by students. Have them compare their thoughts with the views expressed in the graph “Opinions on what to do with people breaking the rules of war.”
Consequences of Forgetting or Addressing Violations of IHL | 20 minutes
Present “To forget or not to forget? Views on dealing with violations of IHL,” and assign one of the four sets of quotations to pairs of students or to small groups.
Reconvene the class, and have students identify the reasons given in their set of quotations for action and for inaction.
Discuss these reasons.
What are some of the consequences of either choice for:
How do you react when you feel that somebody has harmed you?
Trying and Punishing War Crimes | (25 minutes)
Discuss the following IHL rule All States must establish laws to try and to punish those who commit grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions. Paraphrase from Article 49/50/128/146 common to the four Geneva Conventions
Ask students to give examples from history and current events.
Then use “What is a war crime?” to give them a sense of the kinds of violations that constitute war crimes.
List students’ responses to this second question where all can see.
Using the worksheet “Responsibilities for implementing IHL,” have students write down their ideas about what action can eb taken after an armed conflict by:
Then discuss their ideas.
Stress the importance of the responsibility of each of the above parties in bringing alleged perpetrators to court.
What else can be done? | 15 minutes
Point out that bringing people to trial is not the only way to deal with IHL violations.
Use the following statement to inspire students to generate ideas about what else could be done after the end of a period of violence to try to bring closure for the victims and to facilitate the society’s return to peace.
In the six years prior to 1982 nearly 30,000 people ‘disappeared’ in what is often referred to as Argentina’s ‘Dirty War.’ On orders from their superios, naval officers dumped ‘the disappeared’ – still alive after being tortured – from airplanes into the South Atlantic.
Make a list of their suggestions.
[For example: attempts to bring about a reconciliation between the perpetrators and victims' relatives, efforts to find the remains of the 'disappeared' and to return them to their families, public apologies, financial compensation to relatives for their loss, establishing memorials]
Review and discuss their suggestions.
Closing | 5 minutes
Discuss the following question: