University of Auckland wins 2023 IHL Moot

13 December 2023

A fictional case, real issues: the killing of civilians, the cutting of a communications fibre optics cable, environmental damage, and mistreatment of detainees. 

The challenges facing participants in this year’s International Humanitarian Law Moot addressed scenarios around alleged war crimes committed by President Cosmo Mosco of the Republic of Canciferous and his military. The mock trial is a good example of what IHL is, and how it can work, to uphold protections for innocent people, animals, and the environment.   

On Saturday, 2 December 2023, three teams – representing the University of Otago, University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka virtually competed in an IHL Moot Court. The mock International Criminal Court was set up at Red Cross House in Wellington.  

The participating students presented their arguments as prosecution and defence in front of the real judges; Judge Advocate General Kevin Riordan, Ambassador of Switzerland, His Excellency Viktor Vavricka, and Leishia Pettigrew, General Counsel & Head of Legal within Corporate and Finance, ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation).

Three judges in the mock court

The mock International Criminal Court, Red Cross House in Wellington and judges; Viktor Vavricka, Kevin Riordan, and Leishia Pettigrew.

The competition started with three preliminary rounds where each team argued as both the defence and prosecution.  Two moot finalists were selected from these rounds. National President of New Zealand Red Cross Kerry Nickels announced the finalists – teams from the University of Auckland and Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka.  

Two finalist teams and both teams gave it their all in a gripping final. The judges announced Maddison Lewis and Maria Romero De Medeiros – from the University of Auckland – as the winning team. Hattie Compton-Moen from Victoria University of Wellington Te Herenga Waka was awarded best speaker. 

One of the judges and President of the Court, Kevin Riordan praised the teams for their cogent arguments and calm under pressure. He said, “You are all capable of influencing the minds of others with your eloquence – a rare gift. Please use that to make the world a better place – IHL needs good advocates.”  

Another judge, Swiss Ambassador Vavricka said, “International Humanitarian Law is under pressure worldwide and it is essential to ensure that our youth are knowledgeable and ready to defend IHL in the world.”

Group of people posing for a camera

Preliminary Judges (from left) Jonathan Rowe and Jane Derbyshire and IHL Volunteers (from right) Rebecca Brierton, James Waugh, and Rebecca Dudley just before the final of the IHL Moot.

The winning team will represent New Zealand at the Asia Pacific Regional IHL Moot in Hong Kong from 6-9 March 2024. 

The annual moot competition allows law students to apply their knowledge of international humanitarian law to fictional cases based on real issues of modern warfare. Facilitated by the New Zealand Red Cross and The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), it is an opportunity for students to learn more about international humanitarian law and the role of the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. 

For more information

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IHL Moot 2023

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