Protecting civilians in armed conflict

Developing a virtual reality environment and videos

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Status :  Open

Date of Publication

21 Mar 2018


Middle East


  1. Geneva Call

Geneva Call is a non-governmental organization that engages in dialogue with armed non-State actors towards respect of international humanitarian norms, in particular those related to the protection of civilians in armed conflict.

  1. Context and need

International Humanitarian Law (the law of armed conflict) aims at reducing the impact of war on civilian populations. It consists of numerous international treaties that States adhered to. If these treaties have to be applied to situation of armed conflict, the first condition is that all warring parties are aware of their existence and know their rules. Training combatants on these rules is therefore essential.

Most armed conflicts today involve armed non-State actors (ANSAs) either fighting government forces or other armed groups. On the 49 situations of armed conflict in the world, 36 are non-international ones involving ANSAs. Today, the ten most significant conflicts on the planet are all non-international ones, involving one or several ANSAs in places such as Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan, the Sahel region, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Geneva Call is specialized in engaging ANSAs on the respect of these rules and one of its main activities is to disseminate the law of armed conflict among officers, commanders and combatants of armed non-State actors. Active in 15 countries, it maintains a humanitarian dialogue with more than 50 ANSAs.

Most of the time, traditional teaching approaches have not proved to be the most effective with combatants of ANSAs. Law is not easy topic to teach to ANSA fighters: they often have a low level of education, they do not have time or don’t concentrate long on a topic that can be perceived as very abstract at the first glance.

To increase the level of knowledge of ANSA members on the law of armed conflict, Geneva Call would like to put ANSA members in a simulation environment where they would be able to be confronted with realistic and complex situations and make decisions to respect or not the law.

Because it’s playful, visual and realistic, this interactive tool will help Geneva Call to increase the attention of fighters during training activities and to make the law more concrete and directly linked to real situations that they are confronted with every day. Visual training material is a must-have to increase effectiveness of training sessions.

  1. Objectives

This project responds to two main objectives:

  1. Raise awareness on the rules of war among the general population of countries affected by armed conflict.
  2. Increase the interactivity and effectiveness of training sessions on international humanitarian law (IHL) for ANSA combatants.
  1. Expected products

Geneva Call would like to develop simulation videos as well as an immersive environment of war situations. Graphics would be similar to video games and the realism of the different situations would be high, using sceneries and weapons of the current conflict.

There will be three main products:

1st phase

  1. 10 videos to be used in awareness-raising mass-media campaigns promoting IHL in conflict zones, in continuation of the Fighter not Killer
  2. 15 videos: they will be based on Geneva Call’s 15 rules of behaviour for combatants and will be used to illustrate and provoke a debate around them while training combatants / civil society on IHL.

2nd phase

  1. One immersive and interactive simulation environment for the training of commanders: trainees will be faced with difficult situations and will be able to make decisions and see the impact of their decision.

Note that this tender is limited to the first phase with a possibility of extension to the second phase. The scope (number of videos) of the first phase may also be extended or reduced depending on budget constraints.

  1. Description

  • 1st phase

The first stage of the project is to create a virtual environment from which the videos and the simulation can be extracted. A virtual environment should reflect an urban Middle Eastern environment that can be used for Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen and Syria. The environment is composed of a map that can be explored as a character or as a camera filming the action.

To illustrate our 15 rules, the environment should include hospitals, schools, military camps, public and religious buildings and populations including civilians, men, women and children. Below are the topics by order of priorities (see the rules and examples of scenarios in appendices):

  • Protection of civilians
  • Humanitarian access
  • Sexual violence
  • Child soldiers
  • Protection of schools
  • Protection of the medical care
  • Displacement

Mass media campaign videos

10 short videos (less than 30sec) should be produced to be used in a mass-media campaign promoting IHL. A voiceover delivering key messages will be added. Videos should be impactful and use the codes of video game cinematics with special effects, camera movements and music. They would be broadcasted on TVs and social media and should be understandable without additional explanations.

A website and a mobile application presenting the tool would be available to the general public (not included in this tender) in several languages including Arabic, French, English and some scenarios might be available so that the public can use some parts of the tool.

Videos to train combatants

Geneva Call will produce 15 videos of a total length of 8 – 10 minutes (roughly 30 – 45 seconds per video) designed to assist with the training of combatants. Videos will be targeted to be thematically consistent allowing for trainee familiarity throughout the course of training. Video content will follow the 15 key rules of behaviour in war. These videos would never be used without a trainer. Videos should be impactful and use the codes of video game cinematics with special effects, camera movements and music. The scenarios should be original enough to raise combatant’s attention and provoke debate.

Videos to train civil society

Geneva Call will also adapt the above 15 videos to assist with the training of civil society actors. Videos will be targeted to be thematically consistent allowing for trainee familiarity throughout the course of training. Video content will follow the 15 key rules of behaviour in war.

  • 2nd phase

Immersive environment for commanders

Geneva Call will also produce an immersive simulation for the training of commanders in humanitarian norms. The user narrative will be as thus: trainee will load into the simulation, and choose one of a limited number of scenarios. The scenario will include mission objectives, specific LOAC oriented goals, amount of personnel the trainee has available for the mission, and any other vital information to the scenario. The trainee will initialize into a first-person view, but will have access to a map. They will be able to place their units accordingly and target them using various fire control measures, roe, and other guides. Once the commander is satisfied with the plan, the commander can hit an “Execute Plan” button which sets the plan in motion.

The mission plays out, and upon mission completion or inability of the trainee’s forces to complete the mission a metric script will appear listing the following:

  • Casualties (Friendly, Civilian, Enemy);
  • Damage done to structures (Civilian, Infrastructure, Enemy);
  • Internally Displaced Persons created.

These metrics will aggregate to a particular score, and will include feedback on how the commander did comply with the 15 key rules of behaviour. During the mission, the trainee will be able to view from their own, first person perspective, the map view, or an is linear orbit view of the target object. The partner will produce at least 2 scenarios using Middle East concept for cities and rural areas, and not more than 5 for the initial product.

Initial weapon-sets to be included with the base product will be: Mortars (60mm HE), Small Arms (AK-47), LMG Team (RPK), HMG Emplacement (12mm Dishka), Demolitions team (Command Detonated, APERS Mines).


The company should be able to advise Geneva Call on the device that should be used during training sessions (headsets, glasses, tablets…)

Evaluation and impact

To evaluate the impact of training sessions we usually use questionnaires. A digital tool will be developed to evaluate the impact of the training on the knowledge of combatants.

  1. Requirements


Geneva Call is looking for a company to carry out the following tasks:

  • Undertake the activities of the first phase. The company should have the capacity to carry out the activities of the second phase. The scope of the contract will be initially limited to the first phase.
  • Support the definition of the scenarios and messages of each video. Scenarios have to be compliant with international humanitarian norms, be understandable by anybody and be attractive enough to raise combatants’ attention
  • Create a virtual environment as described in the section “description”
  • Create impactful videos as described in the section “description – phase1”

Selection criteria

  • Willingness and ability to understand Geneva Call’s mission and activities
  • Experience in developing videos, simulations or games based on virtual and video game environments
  • Ability to carry out the two phases
  • Recognized experience in creating impactful short videos for social media and TV
  • Price including VAT
  • Availability to start the project in April 2018
  • Knowledge or understanding of international humanitarian law is a great plus
  • Impartiality and neutrality. The company or its members should not be affiliated to, or openly supporting, one or more interest groups opposed to the Foundation’s principles and values

Format and timeline

 Please provide us with your best offer for phase one and phase two in response to all our selection criteria. We would like to see references and some examples of your work. Your offer should be sent by email to by 2nd April 2018.

Appendices can be found here.