Approx. 2 minute reading time

2 min

On 10 December at the 33rd International Conference, a spotlight session entitled ‘Influencing Behavior to Enhance Respect for IHL’ was presented.

The 90-minute session consisted of three 30-minute modules that moved from influencing a large general audience through to influencing individual soldiers and fighters. Each module was a fascinating demonstration of how the Red Cross Red Crescent approaches influence and empirically tests the effectiveness of different behavior change tools.

In the last module, the ICRC’s Virtual Reality Unit (VRU) showcased their urban combat simulation with the support and expert commentary from Head of Unit for Relations with Arms Carriers (FAS), Kenneth Hume, and Head of Unit for Legal Advisors to the Operations, Thomas de Saint Maurice.

For just 15 minutes, the participants in the plenary room were immersed into a virtual town under the constant threat of conflict. The audience was guided through the actions of a singular soldier as he/she witnessed battlefield scenarios such as an arrest and potential execution, the possible direct participation in hostilities of a spotter, civilians blocking military progression on a road and the enemy taking possession of an electrical plant as a combat base.

Through each scenario, Mr. Hume was able to illustrate the choices and limitations of a military soldier and/or officer as they were confronted with each new encounter. Similarly, Mr. de Saint Maurice provided context and consequences from a legal perspective regarding international humanitarian law.

The audience appeared to enjoy taking on the role of a soldier as they learned and experienced IHL training in an interactive and influential environment.

“That was great. It is very exciting to see this type of technology used for IHL training,” said ICRC Assembly Member, Hugo Bänzinger.

The demonstration was introduced by Head of Innovation, Nan Buzard, with support from another ICRC Assembly Member – and neurologist – Dr. Jürg Kesselring, who described his work to understand and influence the human brain.

The VRU, FAS and the Innovation Unit will continue to develop the urban combat simulation as one of the many tools used by the ICRC to encourage, train and maintain respect for IHL around the globe