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Hong Kong IHL moot contest: a word from the bench

30-03-2012 Interview

Hon. Mr. Justice Patrick Chan has been supporting and judging the Asia-Pacific regional Red Cross IHL moot for the past ten years. One of the three Permanent Judges of the Court of Final Appeal in Hong Kong, he was, in 1997, the first local graduate to be appointed as Chief Judge of the High Court. At the close of the 2012 session, he spoke about his involvement with the competition.

How has the IHL moot court grown over the years?

I have observed that more teams get involved each year. One reason is that those previous teams took home the experiences they had here, such as mooting skills, knowledge of IHL and effective presentation skills, and passed these on to their fellow students. This is important: it generates a greater interest in international humanitarian law within the universities as well as within this region. I would like to see the IHL moot continue for a long time.

A lot of participants in the moot court are thinking about careers in IHL and international law. What advice would you give them?

I think the universities they come from should have some guidance and even courses on IHL for students who are interested in this field of law. Of course, the mooters get some training from their coaches when they prepare for the competition, but studying IHL is a long-term process – you cannot learn it in one or two months.

And when the students go back home, they can continue their IHL studies if their universities are able to provide a course. So what I would like to see is a specific course in these universities. This would also enable the students' thinking ability to develop, because they not only need to know the facts and the law, but also how they will apply the law.

What keeps you coming back to participate in this event?

First of all, I like this area of law. I did not actually study it when I was in law school – I became interested in it and began learning it after I started working. It is a branch that is worthwhile spending time studying, because it is more than humanitarian law – it also teaches students to think more globally, and not just about domestic law. This will broaden their horizons and develop their skills. I think that is why I get more and more interested in this topic and why I keep coming back every year.


The Hon. Mr. Justice Patrick Chan, Permanent Judge, Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. 

The Hon. Mr. Justice Patrick Chan, Permanent Judge, Court of Final Appeal, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region.
© ICRC / K. Suchaovanich