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Learning that Even Wars Have Limits

Some created Monopoly-style board games. Others held highly-attended flash mobs on their college campus. Still others role-played as soldiers, civilians, prisoners and humanitarian workers in the simulation game Raid Cross. But no matter the style or approach, the more than 300 students participating in this year’s International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Action Campaign had an eye-opening experience, learning that even war has limits.

“In this world of social media, important events shouldn’t be hard to miss; yet, very often we barely notice horrifying events across the world,” said Daniel, a student member of the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter. “Topics like IHL and child soldiers hardly ever come to mind when I look at what’s most viewed or talked about in the media.”

A student from Bradley University
A student from Bradley University

Launched in 2013 by the American Red Cross, the IHL Action Campaign gets young people (aged 14–24) to learn about international humanitarian law by creating peer-education campaigns to raise awareness about the rules of war. This year’s campaign focused on the topics of child soldiers and international justice. Across the country, 26 teams of high school and college students—supported by eight different Red Cross Chapters—participated in the program.

From there, six teams are selected to go on to Washington, D.C. for the IHL Youth Leadership Summit held June 5-8, 2014. There, students will have an opportunity to present their projects, further develop their leadership skills, and increase their knowledge about international issues related to IHL.

In just its second year, the program is making a real impact on students, teaching life skills and cooperation and igniting a passion for justice and human dignity while laying a foundation for the future.

“This campaign has opened my eyes and showed me where the real values lie in life,” said Hannah, a student member from the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter. “This campaign has changed my life, and I encourage all of my friends to participate in it. IHL has definitely allowed me to mature as a student and has taught me the right ways.”

To learn more about the IHL Action Campaign and see a video from last year’s Leadership Summit, visit redcross.org.