Graduation capThe 18th Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot 2020 held last month saw the participation of 22 teams from the Asia-Pacific region. The team from Symbiosis Law School, Noida was not only one of the 20 — out of hundred — teams that made it to the final round, but it also won the prize for the best memorial. In this piece, Diksha Joshi, Purnima Mathur and Amira Dhawan share a brief reflection of their year-long journey with the ICRC IHL moot competition. Organised by the ICRC in partnership with the Hong Kong Red Cross (HKRC), the competition this year was conducted virtually owing to COVID-19 restrictions. In the honourable submission category for memorials, the first position was awarded to Kathmandu School of Law, Nepal, while University of Colombo, Sri Lanka, took the second place. The team from University of the Philippines was declared winners followed by runners-up Thammasat University.

The experience gained through the Red Cross IHL Moot Court Competition is the most enriching experience one can look forward to. For our team, the year-long journey began in July 2019 with the National Rounds in India. The team was thrilled to participate in the competition due to the subject-matter of the competition, i.e. international humanitarian law (IHL). The team was also excited to begin its association with ICRC through this competition. Competing with approximately hundred teams from different parts of the world offered diversity and exposure to the team.

What’s unique about this competition is that the moot proposition changes at every stage and various contemporary issues of IHL are raised. Due to this, we were constantly learning about international law and IHL.

As a result of the ongoing pandemic, the Asia Pacific round could not be held in Hong Kong as per the annual custom. However, we were glad that the competition was still conducted by the HKRC and the ICRC in a very effective and transparent manner. The virtual mode introduced a new standard with a memorial selection round and no oral pleadings. We were surprised, yet excited, to see how it would turn out. The virtual rounds were equally difficult owing to the introduction of an entirely new concept of submission of written responses, replacing the oral pleadings that form a fundamental part of the mooting process. It was a dynamic experience at every stage.

The moot court competition successfully promotes IHL amongst young law students and throws light on relevant international issues. Another laudable aspect of the competition is that, along with presentation of arguments, it gives importance to authentic knowledge and understanding of international law. A participant can rarely get away with hollow arguments presented under the garb of good oratory skills. As you are required to argue from both sides from preliminary to final rounds, finesse is nurtured. The judges were experienced professionals in the field of IL and IHL. They were always exceptionally well-versed with the issues being argued.

In toto, the team is taking back nothing but a great experience and a journey that was full of knowledge and insights at every juncture.