Several competitions in international humanitarian law, open to students, are organised every year in Belgium or around the world. EDICA has decided to support students wishing to participate in these competitions. Alice Sinon thus supervises students for the mock trial organised each year by the Belgian Red Cross, while Pauline Lesaffre, having herself taken part in the Pictet Competition, prepares students for this competition, which also takes place every year.
Every year, the Belgian Red Cross organises an inter-university pleading competition in international humanitarian law in which the UCL Law Faculty, under the guidance of EDICA, has been participating for many years.
This competition, the final of which is held in the second quarter of the year, takes the form of a mock trial in which students from different French-speaking universities (from Belgium or elsewhere) compete in teams of two in oratory contests. This Moot Court also intends to assess the writing skills of the various participating teams, since the oral exercise is preceded by an exchange of written conclusions between the parties. The role played by each participating University, whether prosecutor or defence, is determined by the Red Cross in a draw.
The fictitious practical case around which this pleading competition is based is developed in relation to current events. It depicts an armed conflict in which violations of international humanitarian law are committed and in which the alleged perpetrator is prosecuted before the International Criminal Court.
Pre-selection tests, internal to the UCL, are organized during the first quarter. During these tests, which also take the form of a mock trial preceded by an exchange of written conclusions, the members of EDICA test the students' writing and speaking skills in order to choose the most competent team to represent our colours in the final of the competition. At the end of the pre-selection tests, all participants receive a certificate of participation.
Taking part in the competition, but also - and this goes without saying - in the pre-selection tests, is a rich experience, both in terms of legal training and in human terms, which can only be beneficial for the curriculum of the future jurists of our faculty.
Students wishing to try their luck for the next edition of the competition can already contact Ms Alice Sinon (firstname.lastname@example.org). In any case, a general communication containing instructions on how to register for the preselection tests will be sent to all students concerned at the beginning of September.
The Jean-Pictet Competition is an international moot court competition in international humanitarian law. The Competition brings together many teams from the five continents, in a different city each year, for an adventure that is out of the ordinary. Teams of three students compete against each other for a week around various simulations and role-playing games that put them to the test and require an ability to put into practice their theoretical knowledge of the subject. The dynamics of the oral jousting as well as the distribution of roles vary, forcing the students to adapt their speech. Intense but extremely enriching, the Pictet Competition is an unforgettable experience for each participant, who is now a member of the "Pictet family".
In her article entitled "Teaching the Law of Armed Conflict" (Essex Human Rights Review, July 2008), Françoise J. Hampson, Professor at the University of Essex, described the Jean-Pictet Competition as follows:
Making LOAC (ndlr: Law of Armed Conflicts) Real – the Concours Pictet
In 1988 a completely new type of international law competition was organised for the first time by Michel Deyra of the University of Clermont-Ferrand. Twenty years later, the Concours Pictet has expanded beyond all recognition, but it has managed to retain many of the characteristics that made the experience of participation unique. On the basis of what I have seen of them and on the basis of their reputation, the Jessup International Moot Court Competition and the Concours René Cassin are ruthlessly competitive. They are also limited to law in the courtroom, and in the appeal courts at that. There is nothing wrong with either characteristic but, to me, it suggests that a participant may benefit professionally but not personally. The Concours Pictet is different. First, it is based on a wide variety of different scenarios in an evolving situation. The participants will play different roles, from rebel leaders to ICRC delegates and from ICRC lawyers to treaty negotiators. This requires them to be able to use the law. It is not enough to know it and to be able to apply it. It requires an understanding of the context in which it is to be applied and an ability to empathise with different actors in that context. It also requires an ability to negotiate and to know how to identify a bottom line and to stick to it. Whilst the competition is serious, the organisers have also always seen it as an important opportunity for students of many nationalities to meet and to enjoy themselves. […] The international competition is not an ICRC event but is ICRC-supported. Many ‘Pictetistes’ subsequently work for the ICRC. One of the elements that remains from the early days is the effect on the participants. They train for the competition, which welds them into a team. They then spend a week immersed in LOAC. That is equally true of the other competitions, so it does not explain the effect. Participants return home with a LOAC ‘buzz’. There seems to be a real sense of family amongst former participants, even though the rules mean that they can only participate once. Many former participants go on to become judges later on. Many end up working in a field in which LOAC is relevant. I have yet to meet a contestant in the Concours Pictet whose face does not light up when they recall the experience.
To read Françoise J. Hampson's article in its entirety, as well as for any further information on the Competition, we invite you to visit the website of the Competition itself : http://www.concourspictet.org/index_fr.htm.