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Peace policies start from early age by the will of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law.

Updated: Feb 1, 2023

A beautiful historic villa surrounded by a garden that includes exotic botanical species from the four continents, Villa Ormond, the green core of Sanremo, recently included in the Grimaldi's historical site ranking. This is the setting of an international body specialised in strategic training aimed at enhancing peace keeping in every detail. Since its foundation, in 1970, the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL), has been committed in encouraging the comprehensive understanding among Countries through the International Humanitarian Law, notably armed conflict legal framework, migration law and refugees management. On the 29th November 2022, the independent, humanitarian organisation started an educational experiment by involving a group of children from Dante Alighieri's primary school, led by the Almerini Foundation. The students were involved in a guided tour to discover the Institute's mission as well as the core activities held by the "Laboratorio per l'Educazione che Ispira la Pace" (Laboratory for Education that Inspires Peace), founded by IIHL together with the Municipality of Sanremo.

Photo >> Opening presentation by Gian Luca Beruto, Deputy Secretary General of the Institute and Director of the Laboratory (IIHL, Villa Ormond, Sanremo, 29th November 2022) © IIHL

The young workshop participants were able to learn and reason on major issues related to the concept of "human rights", "peace" and "citizenship". The innovative junior 'think tank' was also the opportunity to test some games that inspire peace included in the catalog designed within the European project "Peace Games", of which the Institute is a partner together with "G.D. Cassini" High School and further universities, educational centres and institutions. Notably the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia and the Ministry of Education and Labour of Malta. An intergenerational collaboration strengthened the exchange of skills between different age groups. All that is aimed to develop communicative, intercultural and conflict transformation skills, in the stage of youth growth.

Starting to the 'Peace-War-Peace' game to put all participants at ease and foster crucial values like empathy, respect, free will and problem solving, a parade of 'strategic' role plays and board games (e.g.: The Mind, Feelinks, Hellapagos, etc.), allowed them to deepen their social abilities and to argue their choices in the final briefing both for students and teachers.

Photo >> The headquarters of the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (Villa Ormond, Sanremo) © Maurice Abbati MOEA

An unusual but meaningful role for the International Institute of Humanitarian Law that is used to organising highly qualified courses addressed to government officials, politicians, military personnel and academic figures. The Institute has a long-lasting experience in the field of training, research and dissemination, counting on a series of meetings throughout the year inspired by the well-known "Sanremo Round Table". As recently reaffirmed by Edoardo Greppi, President of the IIHL, while celebrating the 50th Anniversary from the foundation, the unique educational, practical and interactive approach built up at the Institute is « known as the "humanitarian dialogue in the spirit of Sanremo”, attracting more than 20,000 participants, representing nearly all the nations in the world ».

The educational testing by IIHL is an interesting project to increase the critical capacity of new generations on key topics of the present and the future. The workshop will also have an operational purpose. In fact, the resulting feedbacks of the Peace Games project will be presented on the 21st February 2023 during a targeted conference at Villa Ormond, involving teachers and policy makers. ***

International Humanitarian Law and Sustainability: a combination of long life.

The maintenance of peaceful coexistence among peoples is a necessary condition for maintaining sustainable living conditions on Planet Earth. The principle is reiterated by the international conference that kicked off the global cooperation to pursue main environmental and social objectives. Principle 24 of the 1992 Rio Declaration states: "Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development". Armed conflicts can have particularly significant impacts in terms of economic growth, health, education and environment. Negative externalities resulting from wars and social tensions involve not only the opposing parties but also civilians and even neutral states. And the damage caused can last very long.

It is therefore essential to have a regulatory apparatus to set limits to various methodologies and means of warfare as well as to limit the use of certain types of weapons. The International Humanitarian Law is playing this role. Its correct application can even lead to reduce or prevent the worst consequences hindering sustainable development. The concept of proportionality and the principle of distinction (fixed by the 1977 Additional Protocol I to the 1949 Geneva Conventions) have a value also in nature protection, considering that there is a general interest in preserving the environment.

Despite the fact that there are no direct references to the term 'environment' in pivotal international acts like The 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1949 Geneva Conventions (and subsequent amendments), severe limitations had already been introduced to stop every unjustified destruction or seizure affecting the enemy's heritage. The 'natural environment' appears soon after as an integral part of human being's legacy and health status, to be jointly respected and protected. A special focus is also put in pioneering 'mitigation actions' to prevent extra environmental risks from the destruction of dams, dykes or nuclear electrical generating stations, together with a hoped-for attention to agricultural areas.

From 1970's onwards, an increased number of binding acts, under the umbrella of Humanitarian Law, encouraged the preservation of natural ecosystems in case of human conflicts. The new treaty law production included official bans on using hazardous chemicals, bacteriological and volatile compounds as means of defence and offence. Up to prevent the use of the same natural elements as a weapon, as outlined by the Convention on the Prohibition of Military or Any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques (December 1976) or the use of weapons able to make the natural and cultivated areas unusable for the risk of explosions or contamination, as reaffirmed by the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Deemed to be Excessively Injurious or to have Indiscriminate Effects (October 1980) and the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction (September 1997). ***


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By Maurice Abbati

Springer International Publishing

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