Debating international humanitarian law in Hong Kong

10 April 2018
L-R: Team members Nathan Whittle, Danyon Chong and Adam Hyams.

Students from the Auckland Law School, were in Hong Kong recently to debate the legal issues arising from a fictional international armed conflict sparked by climate change and flows of migrants.  

This was the topic of the problem presented by the 2018 Red Cross International Humanitarian Moot, co-organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Hong Kong Red Cross, in collaboration with the Chinese University of Hong Kong and the University of Hong Kong.

Following national rounds held in each participating country, the top 24 teams, comprising over 100 law students, compete in the Hong Kong event each year.

The Auckland Law School mooting team, who represented New Zealand at the competition, included Danyon Chong, Nathan Whittle and Adam Hyams. The team were coached by Hannah Reid and Gretta Schumacher. 

The moot is designed to test competitors’ knowledge and application of international humanitarian law and international criminal law.

This year’s problem raised issues of climate change, advanced weapons, attacks on fishing boats, displaced persons, the protection of medical transports at sea and the gravity required of cases to be considered by the International Criminal Court.

The teams were required to act as counsel for both the prosecution and the defence, and debate the fictional case in a mock International Criminal Court.

Nathan Whittle says that the moot was “an incredibly rewarding experience, both in having the opportunity to deeply investigate and understand a profoundly important area of international law, and also meeting other students from around the Asia-Pacific region”.

The Auckland Law School team broke into the advanced rounds in second place.  In the advanced rounds, they made it into the semi-finals, held at the High Court in Hong Kong. They were knocked out by Gujarat National Law University (India), who went on to beat the University of New South Wales (Australia) in the final round.

However they were delighted to be awarded the prize for writing the best defence memorial.

The team would like to thank Treasa Dunworth, Claire McGeorge, Jack Davies, Nick Porter, Caroline Foster, Honor Ford, An Hertogen and Sarah Wilson for their time and assistance in preparation for the moot.

The Auckland Law School team, and footage from the first preliminary round of the moot, featured in this China Global Television news article: