Vanderbilt Red Cross Club hosted the first-ever International Humanitarian Law Training!

As members of the Red Cross, we continually seek to find ways in which to help others. Some of us may well choose to travel to impoverished or wartorn places to accomplish this goal (and power to those who do!). So, if one day you were to find yourself taken captive in a wartorn country, what rights would you have? Would you have rights? Who would administer such laws? What state or nation? All these questions were answered in great depth, during the first training session on the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) at Vanderbilt University on February 11, 2010.

To facilitate discussions, the training session was limited to 20 students though we received overwhelming sign-ups from various organizations on campus. The course was free of charge. Participants included members of the American Red Cross on campus, political science majors, and others simply looking to expand their knowledge on the Red Cross international missions. We discussed how and why the rules of IHL apply under various circumstances and had the opportunity to delve into topics such as human dignity and the injustice of torture. The course allowed us to see what was just and necessary in a world with so much suffering, but at the same time allowed us to also empathize with those who may be tempted to break such rules (if someone has just slaughtered your family do you still treat them with respect?).

After the four-hour long course, we all left with a greater appreciation for human rights and its necessity in the international arena. It’s hard to realize that IHL actually applies to every one of us everyday and it is imperative to know when and where these rights apply.

Ana Milisavljevic and Melissa Zhu, Vanderbilt University Red Cross Club

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