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The Rules of War: Website Helps Educators and Students Learn About International Humanitarian Laws

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Attacks on civilians, torture, the use of child soldiers or biological weapons—all are prohibited in war. But not everyone is familiar with the international humanitarian laws that govern armed conflict. To introduce students to the concepts and content of these rules, Education Development Center (EDC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) developed the Exploring Humanitarian Law (EHL) program. The newly launched EHL Virtual Campus website helps teachers bring this program to classrooms around the globe.

"The website was set up in response to a growing demand from teachers for help with bringing the law of war into the secondary-school classroom," says Nicole Martins-Maag of the ICRC.  "We hope that international humanitarian law will eventually be included in secondary-school curricula around the world and become part of the basic education given to teenagers.  Education authorities must become closely involved with bringing EHL to young people."

Barbara Powell, who directed the EHL Virtual Campus project for EDC and who has been involved with training teachers to use the EHL program since 1999, adds, "It is so inspirational to see how teachers put the program into action.  My hope is that the teacher training-live and online-enhances teachers' skills and confidences in their roles as explorers and that the website will be a hub of conversation among EHL teachers."

Students in 60 countries participate in the EHL program.  They receive 30 hours of interactive classroom activities, exploring an array of ethical and humanitarian issues-from child soldiers and war crimes to prisoners of war and missing persons.  The materials, which are based on both history and current events, show how international humanitarian law aims to protect life and human dignity and reduce and prevent the suffering and destruction that result from war.  The program encourages students to understand the need for humanitarian norms and to develop interest in local and international events.

Visit the EHL virtual campus, which includes learning modules downloadable in English, French, Russian, and Spanish; workshops; training videos; and an online discussion forum, at

Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) is an international nonprofit organization that conducts and applies research to advance learning and promote health. EDC manages more than 300 projects in 35 countries. Visit

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 instructors  classrooms  curriculum  EDC  conflicts  teacher training  basic education

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