In Explorations 1A and 1B students explored actual humanitarian acts in terms of the obstacles and risks that bystanders faced before they acted, and the impact or consequences, immediate and long-term, of what they ultimately did.
Exploration 1C introduces the dilemma pedagogy of Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) and uses it to further explore humanitarian acts. Students assume the role of bystanders and consider whether to perform a humanitarian act; they are required also to take into account the viewpoints of everyone involved and to thoroughly examine goals and possible consequences.
Most humanitarian acts create dilemmas. But dilemma pedagogy is not emphasized at the beginning of the module because it is essential that students grasp the nature of humanitarian acts before analysing them. Many humanitarian acts are, in fact, done on impulse.
This course is one 45-minute session.
- To recognize the complexity of a bystander’s situation when he or she is witnessing a threat to life or human dignity to learn how to analyse a dilemma
- In many humanitarian acts, people face a dilemma of choosing whether or not to protect someone’s life or human dignity when doing so may involve personal risk or cost to themselves or to those they are trying to protect.
- Either choice can have complex and long-term consequences for all involved.
Introduce the concept of a dilemma
Use familiar sayings to illustrate the concept of a dilemma.
[For example, "I'm damned if I do and damned if I don't" or "Between a rock and a hard place;" add something from your students' local culture.]
Encourage students to suggest what a dilemma is. Ask them to give examples, and explain why certain examples are dilemmas.
Identify the main features of a dilemma:
Point out that in a dilemma, even “making the best of a bad situation” may seem impossible because:
Use one of the stories in the module or a dilemma contributed by the students themselves. Have students propose several actions in response to the dilemma. Then, for each action, use these questions:
Explore the complexity of Wendy’s humanitarian dilemma
Present Wendy’s dilemma in “He was having some fun.”
Have students imagine themselves in Wendy’s place as she waits outside the prison.
Have them write down their thoughts on the following subjects:
After allowing time for individual writing, ask students to discuss the dilemma Wendy faces, her role as a bystander and what she might do.
Start by focusing on the prisoner’s situation, as it seems to Wendy.
Then use the “Dilemma worksheet” to explore ideas for resolving Wendy’s dilemma.
For each option that students propose, ask them to suggest the possible consequences for:
You might mark a checkmark next to consequences that would have a positive effect in humanitarian terms and an x next to those that might have a harmful effect.
After the discussion, ask students to take a few minutes more to decide what they now think they would do if they were Wendy. Have them explain their decision in writing, together with their reasons for it.
Then invite them to share their decisions and their reasons.
Note: If it is appropriate, suggest to your students that they think of Wendy and the guards as belonging to their own group (national, ethnic, religious, racial, cultural, etc.) and the prisoners as members of a different group – one that is politically, economically and militarily controlled by the students’ group.
Close – Internal and external forces
Conclude by having students make four lists:
Emotions & Perceptions
(time limits, differences in power, location)
By talking about these aspects of the dilemma, students will come to see how personal points of view and external circumstances affect a person’s efforts to meet the needs of others.