September 24, 2017

Myanmar Law Students’ First Participation in an International Moot Court Competition

Dr. Myint Zin
Two students from the Yangon University Law Department has participated in the 15th  International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Moot Court competition held in Hong Kong from 8 to 11 March 2017.
This is the first time in decades that students from Myanmar participated  in an international moot competition.
I  have volunteered to and help train them at the Yangon University Law department for about a total of ten hours spread over four days.
A moot is a ‘mock court’ where law students argued on behalf of the applicant and respondent teams on a hypothetical legal problem. Since 1994 the writer has had the experience of judging  in the International Law Jessup moot court competition  (different from the IHL  Moot Court Competition)   in which as of 2016 over 70 countries participated. I have been a Jessup moot court judge  in  the national rounds in Malaysia and Australia and the international final rounds held in the United States.
I have  also had the experience of training both the students who participated in the IHL moot competition and have been both trainer and judge in the Hong Kong Asia-Pacific rounds three times.  In December 2007 the students that I trained as a principal trainer  at the Multimedia University from Malaysia won the national rounds and was runner-up in the Asia-Pacific international rounds held in Hong Kong in March 2008.
International humanitarian law is a genre of international law which deals mainly with regulating the conduct of parties involved in armed conflicts and wars. Its inchoate beginnings can be  traced to over 3000 years ago in the Hindu epics Mahabharata and Ramayana and in ghe modern era the four different 1949 Geneva Conventions deal with land, naval warfare, protection of prisoners of war and civilians in times of war. The 1949 Geneva Conventions are truly universal convention where nations which are parties to the Convention (194 , I think) exceeded  those States who are members of the United Nations (193, I think)!
Ever since 2008 when I as a trainer and judge became involved with the Malaysian national rounds and Asia-Pacific rounds  of the IHL Competition in Hong Kong I have been told by personnel from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that they have been trying to urge or almost ‘cajole’ the Myanmar authorities to let  Myanmar students to participate in the IHL Moot.  THE ICRC’s  efforts bear fruit  this year and the Myanmar students’ first  participation in an international law moot needs to be commemorated.
When I trained the students   ask questions in English  though I gave my  feed back and general commentary in Myanmar. Nang Kay Si Kham (a Master of Research in Law) and Aye Thu Thu Thant (Master of Law student) tried assiduously to make their mark or at least their contribution to the inaugural participation by Myanmar in this prestigious international moot court competition. Dr Su Su Mon, a Lecturer from the Yangon Law Department have accompanied them to Hong Kong.,
Should this piece see the light of day, the 15th International Humanitarian Law moot court competition in Hong Kong would  probably be over and whatever the results or the Myanmar teams’ ranking among the 24 teams from 16 countries that participated  in the Moot competition would be  the ICRC, the Myanmar government and the students are to be congratulated for their efforts.

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