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Singapore: discovering IHL – a complex body of law

17-04-2012 Interview

Vani Nair, a law student from the joint team of Singapore, is passionate about the law because it affects everyday life so profoundly. During the 10th IHL Moot Court final round in Hong Kong in March 2012, she received the award for First Honourable Mention. Ms Nair shares her experiences from the competition as well as those of her teammates.

Tell us a bit about yourselves and how you paired up with your team members as well as the researcher?

All three of us are currently majoring in law and we are the same age – 23 years old. Our team is made up of Vani Nair, Jerrie Tan Qiu Lin and Shalini Jayaraj. We are a joint team from two universities in Singapore (National University of Singapore and Singapore Management University) and we were selected to join this IHL moot by our professors after taking part in a mooting module in our respective universities.

How did you become interested in international humanitarian law (IHL)?

To be honest, we did not know much about IHL until we were selected for this competition, in part because it is not a major topic of interest in this region. However, the more we researched about IHL, the more we were fascinated by it. IHL is such a complex body of law; even after months of research, we have only been exposed to a fraction of it.

What was your motivation to participate in the IHL Moot competition?

We were all keen to take part in a mooting competition. Our school assigned us specifically to this IHL moot and although we did not know much about it in the beginning, it turned out to be a very rewarding learning experience for all of us.

Do you think IHL is relevant in Singapore?

Yes, IHL is relevant in all countries. Even though we are sheltered from the harsh realities of war and conflict in Singapore, we still believe that everyone should be aware of the basic principles and rules of IHL. This is particularly relevant as many of our neighbouring countries are currently experiencing various situations of armed conflict.

What made you choose law as a career?

I never grew up wanting to be a lawyer. However, when I had to decide what to pursue at university, I thought that law would be the most interesting choice, especially since it affects everyday life so profoundly. I haven't been disappointed yet for I find studying law challenging and engaging. While I have yet to fully decide on my career path, at the moment I find both criminal law and intellectual property law fascinating.

How did you feel during the competition in Hong Kong as you were presenting your case? Are you satisfied with your performance and the result?

We were both excited and nervous at the same time during the competition, as we had spent the last six months preparing for it. Although we were disappointed that we did not make it to the semi-finals, we enjoyed interacting with our opponents and the judges during the general rounds.


How was the experience of interacting with students from other countries?

We competed with teams from both China and Indonesia. We got along especially well with the team from Indonesia and even managed to spend some time with them touring Hong Kong after the competition was over.

In particular, we really enjoyed the role-playing activities during the outdoor session, which allowed us to experience what it is like to be in a place affected by of armed conflict. These sessions were well organized and informative. Moreover, the stories of personal experience we heard from Red Cross volunteers were inspiring. We also enjoyed interacting with the other teams in a setting outside of a moot court.


Photos

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The Singapore team (from left to right): Jerrie Tan Qiu Lin, Shalini Jayaraj and Vani Nair.  

University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong. The Singapore team (from left to right): Jerrie Tan Qiu Lin, Shalini Jayaraj and Vani Nair.
© ICRC / Y. Sun

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre, Hong Kong. Teams participate in an ice-breaker to get to know each other better. 

Sun Yat Sen Memorial Park Sports Centre, Hong Kong. Teams participate in an ice-breaker to get to know each other better.
© ICRC / Y. Sun

King & Wood Mallesons law office, Hong Kong. The night before the semi-finals, all mooters take part in a keynote seminar on international humanitarian law. 

King & Wood Mallesons law office, Hong Kong. The night before the semi-finals, all mooters take part in a keynote seminar on international humanitarian law.
© ICRC / Y. Sun