This month’s Global Red Cross update will focus on International Humanitarian Law Action Campaign as we are gearing up for another amazing year of the program.
“Why learn about the law of war?”
“Why regulate war, at all?”
“Why not ‘promoting peace’ instead?”
I heard these questions sometimes when I talked to college students. Humanity has two sides, unfortunately. Although aiming our highest hope for peace is noble, conflicts are inevitable part of humanity. Learning about International Humanitarian Law is not settling with the idea of peace, it is bringing peace to the worst humanity can possibly be.
It is one thing we can be hopeful about our humanity.
Learning about International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is relevant, meaningful and useful for young people in all societies, regardless of the absence of war or conflict and regardless of geographical locations. What happens miles away in Syria affects us here. What happened in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other conflict-riden places, affected our lives too. As a global citizen, we have the power to change the outcomes of conflicts that affects our neighbor across the globe, where we are. IHL guides us to make decision to help the vulnerable people affected by war through our voices, our actions to others, our skills, and our resources. We currently have the highest percentage of younger generation (those born after 1980) that will shape the future; therefore helping them to understand their roles as a global citizen is paramount.
Through the mandate of the Geneva Convention, the Red Cross and Red Crescent global network has a duty to disseminate international humanitarian law in time of peace. The American Red Cross helps the public, especially younger generations, to understand their world through international humanitarian law education, both in and out of classrooms. This year, the Cincinnati Chapter will join nine other chapters nation-wide to implement the IHL Peer Education Program for young people. The program will run from January through April 2013. The participants, Team Members (ages 13-17) and Team Leaders (ages 18-25), will be working to explore the importance of protecting the rights of people affected by war, address an IHL-related issue, and implement an action project on what they learned from the training. Two team leaders and up to six team members will form a team, each team will create an educational project about IHL to be presented to the public. The teams will also compete for an all expenses-paid trip to Washington, DC to attend the National Youth Symposium 2014 on June 5 – 7, 2014. The participants will also be able to use this experience to fulfill their service learning hours for school. The application deadline for this program is extended to December 13, 2013.
This year, the topics of the projects will be child soldier and international justice. Although the program is based in International Humanitarian Law, the outcome of the programs emphasized heavily on art and creativity while allowing students working together with their peers. The outcomes of the project include flash mobs, theater performances, community and school surveys, media projects, short films and more.
Our humanity calls us to bring peace through our actions; knowledge of IHL gives us tools to make a difference in the world, where we are. Jelaluddin Rumi, a 14th century Sufi poet said, “Be a lamp, a lifeboat, or a ladder.” The decision is yours.
Dyah Miller serves as International Services Coordinator at the American Red Cross Greater Cincinnati – Dayton Region. Originally from Indonesia, she spent two years as a Rotary World Peace Fellow 2008-10 at the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. For more information and application of the program, please follow this link: http://www.redcross.org/oh/cincinnati/local-programs/international-services/action-campaign