Liz Chicado, 40-year International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies volunteer, began her lecture on Exploring Humanitarian Law by saying, “The Red Cross is the guardian of the Geneva Conventions,” and went on to say that “without the Red Cross, there would be no Geneva Conventions.”
Chicado’s lecture covered a vast variety of topics, from issues in refugee camps to the role of bystanders in armed conflict. The purpose of the lecture was to entice educators of all age groups, from grammar school to postsecondary, to implement the Red Cross’ Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum in the classroom.
According to the American Red Cross, 59 percent of youth, defined by the survey as those between 12 and 17 years old, believe torturing captured enemy soldiers or fighters in order to get important military information is acceptable, while 37 percent of youth believe that it is always or at least sometimes acceptable to deprive civilians in combat areas of food, medicine or water in order to weaken the enemy.
“Whether they are touched or not, students do know that war is much more complicated than what it seems when they are playing games . . . it is oversimplified (in video games),” Chicado said.
Chicado provided other data focusing on casualties of war.
“During World War I, 90 percent of casualties were soldiers involved in the conflict,” she said. “. . .Today during armed conflicts and insurgencies, 90 percent of casualties are civilians.”
The Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum covers five modules: the Humanitarian Perspective, Limits in Armed Conflict, The Law in Action, Dealing with Violations, and Responding to the Consequences of Armed Conflict. An additional module covers the American Civil War from a humanitarian perspective.
Lonnie Campbell, program administrator in the WSU Continuing Education department, responded to the lecture with praise, saying it was “very unique.”
“This is very valuable for teachers and students, something I haven’t even been exposed to before,” he said.
Brian Davis, presidential distinguished professor and Century Institute scholar from WSU’s Goddard School of Business and Economics, attended and was an active participant in the discussion. Davis said he believes this lecture and similar ones are “very important (and) very useful, especially when looking at the international dimensions.”
The Exploring Humanitarian Law curriculum is currently taught in 50 countries, the most recent being the United Arab Emirates, and is taught in more than 40 languages.
Chicado said her work has taken her abroad on occasion, but she works extensively with the Granite and Salt Lake school districts in the hopes of implementing these topics into the curriculum. She also commented on the conversations she is holding with some teachers to implement the entire program as a course in a virtual high school experience.
Educators who participate in the training programs receive certificates for training and re-licensure credit through the Utah Department of Education.
Chicado expressed throughout her lecture her passion for educating and training teachers and educators and helping them bring International Humanitarian Law into the normal classroom.
“If I have no other legacy, let it be this,” she said.
The next workshop will be at the Salt Lake Area Chapter of American Red Cross on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. To register, students can contact Karen Romero at 801-323-7024 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.