Three students from The Police Officer’s Memorial High School in the Greater Miami and the Keys region describe why they chose to participate in the IHL Action Campaign:
International humanitarian law (IHL) is the set of rules that seek, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of armed conflict. IHL protects people who are not or are no longer participating in the hostilities of war, and it restricts the means and methods of warfare. It is important for American youth to learn about IHL because they should know that the victims of armed conflicts are often civilians who have a voice and are protected by IHL. IHL shows us that war and violence have its limits, and with these laws, the people who are affected by war have another chance to gain respect. American youth should know about this also. Teaching the younger population about IHL helps raise awareness in order to make a difference in the world. Every teen that learns about the rules of war is one step closer to understanding what victims of war go through.
In an ever-changing world like the one we live in today, one thing remains the same: issues specific to gender are some of the most serious issues in conflict areas. During conflict, those who are vulnerable, such as women, are in a state of constant vigilance in order to protect not only themselves but also their families, even in places where they should feel safe. IHL, when followed, can make those in the greatest danger feel more secure even during times of uncertainty. For example, the fourth Geneva Convention protects citizens of an occupied territory and requires that they be treated humanely by addressing enforced prostitution and forced labor, as well as by prohibiting compelled service in hostile armed forces. Raising awareness of these protections will benefit men, women, and children in similar situations all around the world.
We hear in the news about many things going on right now, such as shootings, homicides, controversial Congressional acts, and fighting in the Middle East, but we rarely hear about what’s going on in other countries concerning gender issues. We joined the IHL Action Campaign because we still live in a world where it is difficult for us to be informed on issues that may not affect us directly but that are important to be educated about. If we start teaching youth about gender rights and showing them gender issues related to armed conflicts, they could be the next leaders to make an improvement in our society.
Guest bloggers: Fabiola B., Isabella G., and Yennyfer J.
*The purpose of the IHL Action Campaign is for young people to teach their peers about the importance of IHL, as well as issues related to gender, refugees, and humanitarianism.