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Malaysia: IHL as a window on the world

17-04-2012 Interview

Shazwina Ahmad Mazli (23) is studying law at Malaysia’s Universiti Teknologi MARA, where she has become increasingly interested in international law. She had planned to study science after leaving school, but when she was introduced to law it was love at first sight and now Shazwina is looking forward to practicing as a lawyer in the near future. She learned a lot at the 10th IHL Moot Court final round in Hong Kong in March 2012, and intends to bring her newly-acquired knowledge back to Malaysia with her.

How did you become interested in international humanitarian law?

Initially, I entered the competition simply because I was interested in mooting. But researching for the competition opened my eyes to IHL and I developed a real interest. Apart from which, the moot problem was both fascinating and challenging, and that was an additional motivation to learn more about IHL.

Do you think IHL is relevant in Malaysia?

Our country is fortunate, in that we are at peace, but it’s still essential for the public to know about IHL, in order to understand what’s happening elsewhere. It’s also important that people know the rights of civilians during war, because regardless of the situation, every human being has rights that must be upheld at all times.

Are you satisfied with your performance and the result? Is there anything you want to improve on?

We were definitely not satisfied with our performance in the first round. It was a low point for my teammate Farhan Zafry Faiz and me as we had been studying and training for almost two months, and our performance didn’t reflect our efforts. We came out of the first oral rounds dejected by our results, but that was a valuable learning experience.

The first round showed us where our weaknesses lay and stimulated us to do better in the next. And indeed, we did do better in the second round. We left the room with smiles on our faces, knowing we’d done our best regardless of the outcome.

The results of the rounds were fair. Watching the final round made us realize that we have a lot of work to do in order to become great mooters in the future.

If there is one thing that I could change about my performance it’s that I would have clarified the judges' questions properly, instead of answering what I thought the question was!

What was it like to work with students from other countries?

The first team was from Nankai University, China. They answered every question smoothly, which showed their confidence, and I admire them for that.

The second team was from Korea National University. The first speaker was good, even though she did rely quite heavily on her script. The second speaker spoke English more naturally and presented her points well, although she faltered a bit when answering questions.

I had a wonderful time with all the participants and it was a pleasure getting to know them. The opportunity to interact with people from so many countries who are studying the same thing as you is very valuable, and so is the chance to discover their culture.

What is the difference between the national and regional rounds?

The judges for the national rounds weren’t IHL specialists, so the questions were confined to the moot problem. In the international rounds, the judges did have a background in IHL, and the questions were broader and forced us to think critically. Without the judges, I wouldn’t have discovered my weaknesses, and I’m truly grateful for their insightful comments after the end of each round.

Will these competitions help you in the future?

Definitely. I came back to Malaysia with a head full of new knowledge. I can’t wait to pass on what I’ve learned to the students who will be taking part in the next national rounds. I’m setting my sights on entering the Philip C. Jessup moot competition next year and the experience I gained in Hong Kong will help me achieve my aim of bringing the Philip C. Jessup trophy for the national rounds to our university.

Lastly, I have gained a deeper understanding of what IHL is. I will try my best to share my knowledge and to make others aware of what IHL is about.


Photos

Malaysia. The MARA team at the 2011 national moot court competition at Universiti Malaya with ICRC Kuala Lumpur Head of Delegation Tobias Epprecht. 

Malaysia. The MARA team at the 2011 national moot court competition at Universiti Malaya with ICRC Kuala Lumpur Head of Delegation Tobias Epprecht.
/ S. A. Mazli

Hong Kong. The Malaysian team with their coach Ummi Hani Masood (second from right) and researcher Dayang Mazidah Awang Suhaili (right) at the 10th IHL moot. 

Hong Kong. The Malaysian team with their coach Ummi Hani Masood (second from right) and researcher Dayang Mazidah Awang Suhaili (right) at the 10th IHL moot.
© ICRC / Y. Sun

Hong Kong. The Malaysian team with mooters from the other countries participating in the 10th IHL moot. 

Hong Kong. The Malaysian team with mooters from the other countries participating in the 10th IHL moot.
/ S. A. Mazli