Massachusetts Red Cross excited for changes in IHL, International Policy

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I’m really excited to hear about all of these new initiatives, particularly the ones designed for kids.

International Humanitarian Law is getting a makeover.

Christie Edwards, Director of IHL for the American Red Cross, dropped by the Cambridge office on April 2 to share new programmatic direction and exciting initiatives to better engage kids, attorneys and the general public. 

“We’re creating opportunities for  different groups to expose them to the concepts of International Humanitarian Law,” she said, “from children, to law students, to attorneys.”

The national program is now working with kids in a number of ways – engaging them in role-play simulations to learn what it’s like to be a refugee, inviting them to summits and leading them in action campaigns. IHL is spreading into law classrooms, too - teaching law students and in some cases policy makers, the basics. 

IHL has trimmed its in classroom course down from 4 hours to 3, created a toolkit of interactive, half hour presentations on various IHL-related topics, and is working with local chapters to fund educational community events. These activities add to the portfolio of learning opportunities available through the American Red Cross of Massachusetts, which includes a series of Film and Forum Nights where expert speakers take a deeper dive into IHL issues of the day. 

International Red Cross societies are seeing change, too. 

Brad Gutierrez, Director of International Policy, said the Red Cross is working with Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies around the globe to help build their capacity in organizational development, volunteer recruitment and disaster preparedness. 

“I’m really excited to hear about all of these new initiatives, particularly the ones designed for kids,” said Lynn Levine, International Services Manager for the Eastern part of Massachusetts. The future is really in the hands of our future humanitarians.”

Photo: From left, Lynn Levine, Brad Gutierrez, Christie Edwards and Meredith Griswold, International Services Manager for Central and Western Massachusetts.