Auckland University wins heated debate on Laws, Wars and Humanity

University of Auckland law students have claimed the winning trophy at the annual Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot competition.

University of Auckland law students have claimed the winning trophy at the annual Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot competition.

The annual moot competition provides law students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge of international humanitarian law to fictional cases based on realistic studies of modern warfare. 

Sponsored by the New Zealand Red Cross and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), students are further able to promote the spirit of humanity and learn about the role of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Law students Joy Guo, Hannah Reid and team researcher Adi Litia Tuibureleru participated in the only competition of its kind which drew in all six law schools throughout the nation. The final debate resulted in a tightly contested battle between Otago University and University of Auckland.

Students made their case before a simulated international war crimes court debating a variety of issues which arise from armed conflict in urban areas. This year's topics included the protection of individual, civilian and cultural property during war.

Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Adviser, Rebecca Dudley says contemporary armed conflict is presenting new challenges for the law all the time. 'This is happening both in terms of compliance with the existing law and how to develop the law to cover developments, for example, in technologies and the conduct of warfare. We need the brightest, most creative young people to be engaged in the field.' 

The events judging panel included Sir Kenneth Keith, High Court New Zealand Judge appointed to the Queen's Counsel and International Court of Justice with Kevin Riordan, Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and previous Head of the New Zealand Deference Force legal team.

"The students argue a fictional war crimes case in front of very distinguished judges with a lot of experience and wisdom to share. Even though the case is fictional, through their thoughtful comments and feedback to the students, they communicate in a compelling way the high stakes of international humanitarian law," says Rebecca Dudley.

Auckland University team member Hannah Reid, believes it is important for everybody to discuss and learn about international humanitarian law. "New Zealand has a very well respected education system and is generally viewed as a responsible actor on the world stage. It is important for New Zealand to participate in discussions about international humanitarian law to make sure that we value these important rules and will speak out when necessary to uphold them."

The University of Auckland team will travel to Hong Kong in March 2017 to represent New Zealand at the 14th Red Cross Asia-Pacific International Humanitarian Law Moot competition.