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Malaysia: emotional battle ends 2012 IHL Moot Court competition

21-01-2013 Feature

Eighteen teams from nine universities around Malaysia gathered at University Malaya in November 2012 for the 9th IHL Moot Court Competition, which was co-organized by the ICRC and the University of Malaya's Faculty of Law. Participating teams were hosts University of Malaya plus Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, International Islamic University Malaysia, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Advance Tertiary College, Multimedia University, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin and Universiti Utara Malaysia.

“Intense. Exhausting. Dramatic. Competitive. Exciting.” Eugene Ee was not short of adjectives to describe the competition. Second-year University of Malaya law student Ee and partner Low Pou Leen emerged winners after beating Kang Mei Yee and Chew Jee San from the same university.

At the finals, excited chatter quickly gave way to pin-drop silence in the imposing auditorium when the court was convened by a panel of judges, led by His Excellency Eduardo Malaya, the Philippine ambassador to Malaysia. The moot case centred around a fictional Colonel Calley Jones who faced three counts of war crimes. Mooters presented their cases, answered judges' questions, rebutted their opposition's claims and above all, displayed a keen knowledge of IHL. Arguments covered such topics as the definition of 'armed conflict,' the burden of proof and the effects of an alleged cyber-attack on the population.

Christopher Harland, Regional Legal Adviser and judge at the finals, was impressed with the quality displayed by the finalists. "The teams were very well-prepared and showed a strong knowledge of IHL in their analysis and answers to questions,” he said. “Their written pleadings were well drafted and highly structured." Harland noted that the strongest teams were able to delve deeply into case-law and apply the jurisprudence of the ICC and other international courts to the facts at hand.

University of Malaya's Faculty of Law and the ICRC have been co-organizing Malaysia’s annual IHL Moot Court Competition since 2004. The Competition forms part of the ICRC's efforts to promote IHL at leading academic institutions in Malaysia by supporting teaching and research and encouraging the integration of IHL into the curricula of Malaysian universities. The aim is to ensure that future leaders and opinion makers understand the practical relevance of IHL and have a thorough knowledge of its basic principles.

University of Malaya’s Prof. Azmi Sharom said that “It’s a wonderful thing that a lot of smaller and newer universities are taking part, including the private institutions. The usual monopoly of the Klang Valley public universities over these types of competition has been blown away in the IHL moots.”

He added that “the sheer quality of the mooters and their researchers means that the IHL issue is reaching the very best and brightest. The quantity of students who are receiving this knowledge and awareness may be small but the quality is very high indeed.”

Prof. Sharom went on to say that this was a strong competition, but with no malice or poor sportsmanship. “Over the years, I have seen mooters from faculties with less mooting experience morph from cannon fodder to genuine contenders.”

The effect of the IHL Moot Competition was best summarized by winner Low Pou Leen, of the University of Malaya, who said “I now understand better the field of international humanitarian law – its importance and impact. I am more aware of international issues, and especially of conflicts. I am also able to see these issues in a different light, paying attention to their legal implications. All in all, the moot competition has been an enlightening experience.”


Eugene Ee (left) and Low Pou Leen (right) from University of Malaya emerge winners of Malaysia’s 2012 IHL Moot Court competition. 

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Eugene Ee (left) and Low Pou Leen (right) from University of Malaya emerge winners of Malaysia’s 2012 IHL Moot Court competition.
© University of Malaya