Malaysia: UKM debuts at Jean Pictet Competition 2014
Forty-eight teams from 29 countries took part in the 2014 Jean-Pictet Moot Court competition on international humanitarian law. Among the competitors was a debutant team from UKM (National University of Malaysia), for whom the event was an enriching experience.
The UKM team comprised political science majors Najwa Farahah Nazri and Ahmad Amir Azfar, and Saw Wei Siang who is reading law. The students saw the contest as an opportunity to hone their skills and apply their understanding of international relations and international humanitarian law in a competitive environment. Najwa, whose ultimate goal is to work in the humanitarian sector, viewed the event as a means of exposure to the practical implications of armed conflict. Meanwhile, Saw, who is currently involved in a military officer training programme, perceived the competition as a means to better understand the complexities of applying international humanitarian norms to real-time scenarios.
“The preparation required here was unlike anything we have done before. Students not only had to review all the material sent by the competition committee, but also undertake additional research to existing knowledge of international relations and international humanitarian law,” explained Dr Witbrodt, Moot Programme Coordinator at the Faculty of Law at UKM.
A challenging format
The team arrived in Sintra, Portugal, on 28 February ahead of the week-long competition that began a day later. The format of the competition required teams to participate in seminars, daily tests, and role-playing and problem-solving assessments. Jury members nominated by the Jean-Pictet Committee evaluated each team’s performance based on the results achieved.
Ahmad Amir Azfar commented, “The format of the competition made for a rewarding and enriching experience.” As a student of international relations, he was well versed in political theory, but the competition enriched his understanding of the complexities of international negotiation and advocacy within a practical framework. “The requirement to advocate based upon the political interests of the parties involved in a conflict situation while simultaneously adhering to international legal norms proved challenging,” he added.
While the team did not progress to the final rounds of the competition, all of the team members agreed that the experience of participating in the competition had exceeded their initial high hopes. The competition brought the opportunity for exchange among participants from a variety of different cultures and regions, allowing for frank discussions on various topical international issues in an atmosphere of friendship and understanding.
Najwa concluded, “This was indeed a unique, enriching experience for the team. Of course, all that would not have been possible without the support of so many, including the ICRC’s Kuala Lumpur regional delegation, Dr Matthew Witbrodt and the Faculty of Law and the Faculty of Political Science at UKM.”