Module 1 Lesson Ideas

Below are suggested classroom activities to support students' exploration of the films and the documents.  These Lesson Ideas are specifically tailored to be used with Film Module 1: Law or War

  1. Paraphrase the Preamble to the Rome StatuteThe Preamble to the Rome Statute consists of 11 statements. To help students better understand the purpose of the International Criminal Court, ask students, possibly working in pairs or triads, to rewrite a statement from the Preamble in their own words. Then groups can share their statements with the class. An extension of  this activity might ask students  to compare  this preamble to other preambles, such as the preamble to the United States Constitution.
  2. Big paper: Building a silent conversationOne way to structure a conversation about the ideas in this module is to select questions from the Viewing Guide or from the Connections questions found at the bottom of the Readings: Preamble to the Rome Statue  and  A Statement from Benjamin Ferencz) and use these questions as the focus of a big paper activity. 
  3. Discussing dilemmas: The establishment of the ICC has introduced many dilemmas—a choice between two or more equally valued options—for the international community. After watching this module, you can ask students to identify a dilemma raised in the film. (Note: Before asking this question, you might want to spend some time having students construct a working definition for “dilemma”). One significant dilemma raised in this module pits national sovereignty vs. international accountability and can be seen through the lens of whether or not a country, such as the United States, should join the ICC. This question is worthy of debate because both sides present compelling, reasonable arguments. After watching this short film and reading the Should the United States Join the ICC? and its two accompanying Readings, we recommend giving students the opportunity to do outside research on this topic. They can start by reviewing some of the Related Links. You could also assign students to a particular side of this dilemma and have them share information through a debate. The SPAR (Spontaneous Argumentation) teaching strategy could be used to structure this debate. The purpose of having students debate is to deepen understanding of a topic, so it is essential that after the debate students have the opportunity to synthesize arguments from both sides  in order to come to their own opinion.
  4. Journal writingFacing History  teachers have  found  that writing  is  an  effective way  to help students  reflect on what  they  are  learning. Any of  the Viewing Guide questions can be used as prompts for a journal writing activity. You might allow students to respond to the question that most interests them. 
  5. Exploring sovereignty: Sovereignty is a central theme in this film. For example, when United States government officials object to joining the ICC, they raise the question of when, if ever, it is appropriate for the international community to intervene in the affairs of an independent nation. Because understanding the concept of sovereignty is essential to understanding international criminal law, you might want to ask students to create a working definition for “sovereignty.” Students can deepen their understanding of “sovereignty” through a discussion about questions such as “Under what conditions should national sovereignty be respected? Under what conditions is it appropriate to intervene in the affairs of an independent nation?” One way to address these questions is by using the barometer teaching strategy with the statement:

    The ICC has the authority to investigate and prosecute crimes in member countries and in cases referred to the court by the United Nations General Assembly. For example, the ICC just issued an arrest warrant for the president of Sudan. Should an international court have the right to tell a sitting head of state that he or she has committed a crime?

    One side of the barometer can be labeled “International community has the right to intervene,” and the other side of the continuum can be labeled “Sovereignty should be respected; international community does not have the right to intervene.” “What gives someone the right to tell me what to do?” is a question on the minds of many adolescents, so as students discuss questions about national sovereignty, they might make connections to personal autonomy. You might ask students to consider how issues of sovereignty or autonomy have played out in their life. For example, the United States federal government’s involvement in school desegregation touches on the issue of sovereignty at the state level. While national sovereignty is clearly different than personal autonomy, both of these concepts relate to questions about rights and responsibilities, for often in society we give up rights (at the personal, state, or national level) in order to fulfill a larger social responsibility
Continue to Related Links for this module.

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