Rwanda: Law students to compete in country’s first IHL moot court competition
Five law schools in Rwanda, in partnership with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Rwandan Red Cross, are organizing the country’s first-ever national moot court competition on international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the law of armed conflict.
A moot court is a role-playing competition where teams of students are expected to demonstrate their understanding of international humanitarian law before a simulated court.Each team will have to play the roles of both the prosecution and the defence in a fictitious war crimes trial.
The competition will take place from 5 to 6 October 2016 in Kigali and bring together four teams of 12 law students from the University of Rwanda, INES-Ruhengeri, the University of Lay Adventists of Kigali and Kigali Independent University. .The winning team will be sponsored by the ICRC’sdelegation in Kigali to take part in the All-Africa IHL Moot Court Competition in Tanzania.
“Law schools tend to deliver more theoretical than practical skills. This is a great opportunity for our students to put their IHL knowledgeto the test and compete with their fellows from around the country,” explains Dr Fructuose Bigirimana, dean of the law faculty at INES-Ruhengeri and head of the organizing committee.
For Mr Innocent Musonera, a lecturer and the head of the public law department at the University of Rwanda, this moot court competition will help students understand and be able to raise awareness of the challenges in humanitarian law in the region. “Law students are the future judges, law lecturers, political leaders, government ministers and military generals of the country,” he says. “When students, especially those participating in moot competitions, are fully informed about the principles, they become ambassadors for IHL and continue to promote it.”
Alongside the competition, there will be a public lecture on the contemporary challenges in IHL, which will be open to anyone interested in the subject. Dr Bigirimana says that this is one of the rare occasions for lecturers in law schools to update their knowledge of humanitarian law and adapt their courses.
The ICRC has been tasked with developing and promoting IHL since the international community signed the original Geneva Convention in 1864. The organization works closely with academic institutions to support and improve education on humanitarian law around the globe, including Rwanda. In addition to the national moot court competition, other events, such as the IHL Law Faculty Round-Table, have been held since 2012 to promote humanitarian law there. The ICRC is also helping the Rwandan government to incorporate international humanitarian law in domestic law.