ICRC’s Innovation Initiative has supported the launch of several innovative pilots that are currently being tested by ICRC and its partners. Over the course of the next months the GPHI2 blog will be showcasing a new innovate project every week. Our third instalment of the series features Virtual Reality Tools as a mean to promote International Humanitarian Law.

The promotion of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) is a central component of the ICRC’s mandate. However, we do not have updated tools to effectively promote IHL, both to internal staff and to external recipients such as armed actors. For example, to ensure that we remain impartial and neutral when training and educating, we still rely on footage dating back to the Vietnam and Korean wars. We therefore have an urgent need for a tool that allows us to provide better internal trainings and updated, relevant and adapted education to external actors of conflict.

The Virtual Reality Tool (VRT) is aimed at leveraging the exponential growth of the military simulator and video game sectors.

The tool simulates battlefield planning in order to provide a more interactive and realistic, yet neutral, medium for teaching IHL. This idea has the potential to change the nature of ICRC’s IHL training to armed forces and increase both its effectiveness and efficiency. In addition to being more interactive, the VRT potentially extends the reach of ICRC’s training by a factor of a hundred and is also expected to more successfully shape the behaviours of armed forces.


The ICRC has developed a partnership with the Czech video game company Bohemia Interactive allowing us to use their military game ARMA 3. The ICRC is using this game as a basis to create video game modifications and simulations adapted to our specific needs, both for digital internal training and the education of armed forces. VRTs have already been ordered and used by a number of delegations (Israel, Myanmar, Thailand, Bangladesh, Australia, Iraq…). The great popularity of the tool within the ICRC is leading to the expansion of the project. We are now working with the external company Odin Softworks to meet the growing demand.

The Bigger Picture

The VRT has the potential to go beyond internal training and the education of our direct beneficiaries. There is the very realistic opportunity to:

  • Build partnerships with private companies from the high-tech sector to insure the sustainability and further development of the project.
  • Incorporate IHL into military training simulators and video games for the general public. We can work closely with the video game industry to integrate basic notions of IHL into the gameplay of popular military shooters and strategy games.
  • Reinforce the ICRC’s leading position in an increasingly competitive IHL training environment.