Law schools face off in Philippines’ largest moot court competition

Manila (ICRC) – The fight gets extremely tight in this year’s National Moot Court Competition on International Humanitarian Law, as students from 17 law schools vie for the honour of winning in the largest moot court competition in the country.

Hosted by the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law, the 2011 moot court competition, which will take place from 27 to 30 September, will have old and new teams arguing a fictitious case involving international humanitarian law before a mock International Criminal Court. They also face tough questions from panels of judges with backgrounds in academia, government, the military and police, and humanitarian work.

“The growth of this competition shows that more law students appreciate international humanitarian law and its real-life applications. As the rivalry becomes more fierce, we have adapted the competition format to give more students a better fighting chance of getting into the finals,” said Evecar Cruz-Ferrer, a legal adviser of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), adding that this year’s semi-final round has spots for eight – expanded from last year’s four – law school teams.

The annual competition for law students in the Philippines is organized by the ICRC, the Philippine Red Cross, the Philippine Association of Law Schools and the Supreme Court.

The ICRC is a neutral and impartial organization that assists and protects victims of armed conflict and other violence. As the guardian of IHL, it reminds parties to the conflict of their obligation to spare the lives of civilians and to treat them with humanity and dignity.

First held in 2005, the moot court competition aims to develop understanding of international humanitarian law among law students. Last year, the Silliman University team topped 13 other law schools and represented the country at the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law Moot Competition, an inter-university competition for the Asia-Pacific region. This year’s winner will also represent the Philippines in the regionals, to be held in Hong Kong in 2012.

The moot court contest began with only six schools but it is now considered a prestigious event for law students, being the only moot court competition that holds its finals in the en banc session hall of the Supreme Court. A sitting associate justice will chair the board of judges for the final round.

The 17 participating law schools for 2011 are Arellano University, Ateneo de Davao, Ateneo de Manila, Cagayan State University, Lyceum of the Philippines, Saint Louis University, San Beda College, San Sebastian College of Law, Silliman University, Southwestern University, University of Batangas, University of Cebu, University of the Cordilleras, University of San Carlos, University of Santo Tomas, University of St La Salle, and University of the Philippines.

A role-play challenge will also be held this year to simulate practical applications of the body of law that seeks to limit the effects of war. Students will act as humanitarian workers, military advisers and civilians in a fictitious armed-conflict situation.

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