Singapore: Enlightening experiences for future legal practitioners

10 April 2017
 Singapore: Enlightening experiences for future legal practitioners
Hong Kong (from left to right) The team from Singapore Management University: Lixin Chen, ShiTing Phang, Shaun Ou and their coach, Sui Yi Siong. CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC

Around 100 law students representing 24 teams from 21 universities across the Asia Pacific region participated in the annual Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Court competition in Hong Kong from 8 to 10 March 2017.

In its 15th edition, the competition, co-organized by the Hong Kong Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), aimed to challenge and test participants' knowledge of international humanitarian law (IHL) and to spread knowledge of IHL throughout the region and beyond.

The team from Singapore Management University, Shaun Ou, Lixin Chen and ShiTing Phang, share with us their experience.

On the IHL current challenges that were highlighted in the problem of the competition, such as drones, cyber attacks and expanding bullets, Lixin now realises that the legal issues are much more complex and no longer one-dimensional after preparing for the moot.

"Not only does the law take into account civilian losses, but the perspectives of a reasonable commander – and balances the two. This equation is a tricky one to grasp," she said. Her teammate, ShiTing shared that it was enlightening to learn from the judges' reasoning in cases, why certain acts are acceptable in a war context and some are not. Nodding in agreement, Shaun emphasized that now they have gained a clearer understanding of the undertones, complexities and ambiguities of war.

The team enjoyed very much preparing for the competition, especially with research materials that were related to very real life scenarios. They felt that the moot has sharpened their research and advocacy, helping to prepare them to be a better law practitioners in the future.

"The IHL moot requires us to double up (playing the prosecutor and the defence at the same time) and that encourages flexibility of mind and sensitivity on assessing the facts to both sides of a law suit. As well, the memorial writing and advocacy skills are indispensable to do well in the moot, " said ShiTing.

When asked about tips for next year's participants, Lixin said participants should keep close attention on the current issues happening worldwide, while ShiTing said that it is important to consider what is practical in military real situation, while not losing sight of principles of humanity and military necessity in such situations. "Enjoy the research and have a thoroughly enjoyable time during the activities," added Shaun.