Law students reach finals of international humanitarian law competition

Thursday, 14 December 2017

LLM human rights mooting team 800x450

A team of three Oxford Brookes University students have reached the final round of the Jean-Pictet Competition - the largest international humanitarian law competition in the world.

Ridwan Schnell, Giulia Borsa and Hope Flashman-Wells are all studying for the LLM (Master of Laws) in International Human Rights Law, and will travel to Macedonia in March 2018 for the finals.

The Jean-Pictet Competition is a mooting event for students involving 48 selected teams from around the world. Mooting is the traditional method through which law students are introduced to practical experiences of courtroom advocacy.

Oxford Brookes is the first team from Oxford to qualify for the prestigious competition and many of the competitors go on to be selected for international legal and political advocacy roles following their participation.

Ridwan Schnell explained that taking part in the competition has given him the chance to learn new areas of humanitarian law: “It offers a unique opportunity.”

Participation in the competition will give them a great opportunity to gain further practical insights into human rights and humanitarian law protection work as well as valuable opportunities for networking.

Dr Michael John-Hopkins, Senior Lecturer in Law, Oxford Brookes University

In order to get through the challenging preliminary round, the team collaborated with fellow LLM students, Laura Duthie, Josselin Lavigne and Petar Mitrović, who are currently leading in the internal Brookes Human Rights Law Mooting Competition.

During the final round, the teams will spend a week competing through different scenarios around a fictionalised armed conflict. The students assume the roles of the major players for example, the military, humanitarian aid workers, lawyers and political leaders. Assessed by a jury, the teams must demonstrate that they understand the risks, opportunities, political dynamics and strategic issues, all in the context of international humanitarian law. The teams must also show respect for the work, cultures, and opinions of the other teams, and demonstrate consideration of the neutral humanitarian spirit of the competition.

The Jean-Pictet Competition is now in its thirtieth year, and has been won in the past by institutions such as the Centre de droit international, Université Libre de Bruxelles, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, the National University of Singapore, and the London School of Economics.

Dr Michael John-Hopkins, Senior Lecturer in Law and coach of the Oxford Brookes LLM team said: “The work that the students have put in to reach the finals has been outstanding, and they should be very proud of their achievement. It has been thrilling to provide coaching to the team in some of my primary areas of research.

“All the students involved in getting through to the Pictet finals have demonstrated sound legal knowledge and understanding as well as skills and qualities such as commitment, teamwork, leadership and problem solving. These attributes will be invaluable not only during the finals when they will be thrown into a range of simulations that closely resemble humanitarian protection work in conflict or post-conflict environments, but also in their future careers as human rights advocates and defenders.

“Participation in the competition will give them a great opportunity to gain further practical insights into human rights and humanitarian law protection work as well as valuable opportunities for networking.”

As part of its range of extra-curricular activities that promote graduate employability, all students on academic law programmes in the School of Law have the opportunity to participate in a range of internal mooting events, with the winners representing Brookes in both national and international competitions. In recent years, Oxford Brookes students have had considerable success in mooting competitions as well as client interviewing competitions.

Information about studying Law at Oxford Brookes University can be found on the School of Law webpages. 

Pictured left to right: Ridwan Schnell, Hope Flashman-Wells, Giulia Borsa, Josselin Lavigne, Laura Duthie