Kenya: University of Zimbabwe wins seventh International Competition on IHL

Monday, December 17, 2007

A team of three students from the University of Zimbabwe trounced 12 other teams from across the continent to win the seventh International Competition on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) in Arusha, Tanzania.

The University of Zimbabwe is one of the only two universities in Zimbabwe that teach law, and in past moot courts neither campus has made it to the finals. Haramaya University from Ethiopia took second place.

The competition was organized by the ICRC with the assistance of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and ran from 24 November to 1 December. The aim of these competitions is to expose students to IHL and humanitarian action through training, simulation and advocacy. The competition was opened by the Tanzanian Minister for Justice, Hon Mary Nangu, and the head of the ICRC’s regional delegation, Pascal Cuttat.

The finals were held in a trial chamber of the ICTR where the two winning teams battled it out before three judges from the ICTR and three ICRC representatives.

Dennis Byron, President of the ICTR, said the competition gave students an insight into IHL at a practical level ''empowering future leaders of the legal profession'' with a knowledge of, interest in and respect for IHL.

''This competition is an eye-opener and exposes the students to the workings of the ICRC and INGOs, plus the field of IHL,'' said Happias Zhou, a law lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe.

The University of Zimbabwe team took home a trophy that they will hold until the next competition, and two of their best speakers were awarded a three month sponsored internship at the ICTR.

The other participating countries were Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Tanzania and Uganda.

The students all felt that the competition fostered interest in IHL and was very enjoyable. Some said they would like to work in IHL upon completing their studies. ''It was an unforgettable experience for us all,'' said one participant.

ICRC communication coordinator Len Blazeby, who oversees the competition, noted that the teams exhibited a higher standard than in previous years. ''There was a noticeable improvement across the universities in the students' knowledge of IHL, which is encouraging for the teaching of the discipline in the region. Working in conjunction with the ICTR symposium this year added a lot for the students.''

Source: International Committee of the Red Cross