Auckland Law students win place in International Humanitarian Law Mooting Finals

10 March 2013
Anna Devathasan and Gretta Schumacher, accompanied by researcher Sara Chin and coach Ben Prewett
Coach Ben Prewett with students Anna Devathasan and Gretta Schumacher, accompanied by researcher Sara Chin. Photo supplied by Red Cross.

Three students from The University of Auckland’s Law School represented New Zealand at the Red Cross International Humanitarian Law (IHL) moot competition in Hong Kong in March. This is the first time there was a representative team from New Zealand attending.

After winning the national IHL moot competition in December, students Anna Devathasan and Gretta Schumacher, accompanied by researcher Sara Chin and coach Ben Prewett, joined 20 teams from around the Asia Pacific to compete for the regional title. The team made it to the quarter-finals, where they were beaten by the competition winners from the National Law University of Delhi. Gretta was named as the second best individual mooter.

“We were given a complex scenario. It dealt with individual criminal responsibility for biological experimentation, the use of child soldiers in armed conflict, and the employment of biological weapons. We argued both the prosecution and the defence in the preliminary rounds, and were then assigned sides as the competition moved forward,” says Anna Devathasan.

Of their national win, student Gretta Schumacher gives credit to the Auckland Law School’s strength in International and Humanitarian Law.

“We have International Criminal Law and Law of Armed Conflict courses taught at the University by Treasa Dunworth which gave us an important head start on the nature of the International Criminal Court and international criminal law in general.

“We received phenomenal coaching from Gilbert-Walker’s Ben Prewett who helped develop our advocacy skills. We have also been incredibly well supported by Auckland practitioners, members of the Faculty and alumni from Auckland Law School – We are truly grateful for their help and guidance.

International Humanitarian Law is related to the law of war. It governs what can and can nopt be done in both international and non-international armed conflict in terms of protecting civilians, prisoners of war and wounded soldiers.

The Dean of the Law School, Andrew Stockley said the competition puts a spotlight on this vital aspect of international law: “The team has done extremely well and I am very proud the team represented New Zealand with great credit in the international round.

“The Auckland Law School has had a lot of success in international student competitions during the last few months, reaching the Grand Finals in the World Human Rights Mooting Championship in Pretoria in December, and in the International Commercial Mediation Competition in Paris in February."

The IHL competition ran from 14-16 March and was hosted by the University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Red Cross.