Puntland State University in Garowe, Somalia. @ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

Attacks against health care workers and facilities deprive people of life-saving treatment. This is the statement that dominated the proceedings during Somalia’s first-ever International Humanitarian Law (IHL) student competition which took place on 21 and 22 February at the Puntland State University in Garowe.

IHL, a set of rules that seek to limit the effects of war/armed conflict, is a subject that has drawn significant interest from the university’s faculty of law.

“This competition is an important event for exposure and experience for the students and will enrich their knowledge on IHL,” said Saleban Mohamed, Dean of Faculty of Sharia and Law.


Law students in class at Puntland State University. @ICRC/Pedram Yazdi

The competition, organized by the university and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), saw 10 teams, each comprised of three law students, presenting their perspectives on the statement. A panel of Judges from the university and members from the ICRC with expertise in IHL awarded scores.

The ICRC uses student competitions across academic institutions around the world as a way of boosting interest on IHL, and ensuring future leaders and opinion makers are familiar with the law.

“The competition provided a great opportunity for the students to apply the knowledge that had been shared with them during the presentation sessions. It was a great privilege to hear the students perspectives and it is pleasing to know that the next generation of legal minds in Somalia have a good grasp of the basic principles of IHL,” said Dr. Eve Massingham, ICRC’s Regional Legal Advisor who is attending the competition.

The competition format also included a half day of IHL lectures from ICRC experts and an address to all law faculty students on the notion of generating respect for IHL in the Horn of Africa.  The winners of the competition were Abdifatah Dahir Jama, Mustafe Ali and Adam Ahmed.