WCL's 2013 ICC team. From left, Naida Henao, Bethanie Haynes, and Michelle Flash.

International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Competitions

The War Crimes Research Office (WCRO) is seeking  students (2L, 3L, or LL.M.) to represent the Washington College of Law  in international criminal law and humanitarian law (IHL) competitions: the Jean-Pictet and Clara Barton IHL Competitions and the Pace/ICLN International Criminal Court Moot.

Video of our fall 2015 information session on the competitions, in which WCRO staff and competition alumni talked about the experience and took questions, is available here.

Application Process:

Students with experience in international humanitarian or criminal law are particularly encouraged to apply. Interested applicants should send us their names, year, resume, transcript (unofficial is fine), a description of any experience with international criminal/humanitarian law, and a short response (800 words maximum) to the three-part question following the below prompt:

Over the past three months, the remote island of Ares has experienced an influx of refugees fleeing conflict in their country of origin, Betos. In total, 30,000 refugees have arrived on an island of 15,000 local residents. Initially, islanders welcomed the first few boats of refugees. As more refugees arrived, the islanders became resentful and began expressing anger at the number of refugees arriving on the island. The refugees created an encampment in an abandoned resort area and the islanders attempted to wall the encampment off. Food and fresh water are scarce on the island and the small supply the refugees brought with them began running out, leading refugees to escape from the encampment, begging islanders for food and water. The islanders sent armed men to guard the hastily erected wall. Fighting broke out between these armed islanders and some of the refugees, who protested being enclosed in the encampment, and threw rocks and bottles at the men. The refugees tore down the wall and a stand-off began between the refugees and the islanders. The situation has become increasingly violent over the past three weeks: refugees have killed six islanders through beatings and by throwing objects while the islanders have shot and killed 13 refugees. Islanders recently set part of the encampment on fire, resulting in the deaths of 21 more refugees, including children. The government of the country of Ceros—of which the island of Ares is a part—has sent in its national guards to restore order on the island. Shortly after the guards arrived, a ship from an international aid organization carrying fresh water and food stores for the refugees arrived at the island and attempted to dock but the Ceros soldiers refuses to allow the aid workers to dock and enter the island.

1) Does international humanitarian law apply to this situation? Why or why not?

2) If this situation constitutes an armed conflict, is it international or non-international in character?

3) If other jurisdictional and admissibility requirements were met, could the government of Ceros face war crimes charges at the International Criminal Court for its actions?

Please email your application to warcrimes@wcl.american.edu. The deadline for applications is Monday, August 31, at 5:00 pm. Select applicants will be contacted to present their answers to the above questions in an oral presentation.


Jean-Pictet Competition & Clara Barton IHL Competition

Unlike a traditional moot court competition, the Jean-Pictet Competition consists of a week-long series of simulated diplomatic negotiations and other exercises focused on IHL and other areas of public international law. The competition provides an excellent opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the study and practice these areas of the law, and to hone skills vital to the field of international law, including negotiation, lobbying, and advocacy. 

The competition is held in a different city each year over one week, and two concurrent competitions are held, one in English and one in French. One winning team from each group is selected to participate in the final round of the competition. The competition venue changes annually, with past competitions having been held in Sintra, Portugal and Charlottesville, Virginia. Selection for participation in the Jean-Pictet Competition is conducted not only by the WCRO but also by the organizers of the competition. Per Jean-Pictet rules, “In order to avoid any inequality between teams that may arise from the participation of extremely qualified or experienced participants, the [Concourse Jean-Pictet] may decide not to accept the participation of students over the age of thirty who have strong experience in law or in the field of humanitarian action.” Additionally, any person who has previously attended the competition is also ineligible. For more information about the competition, please visit www.concourspictet.org.  

The Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition is an experiential learning competition similar to the Jean Pictet Competition that is sponsored by the American Red Cross to introduce future attorneys to the practical challenges encountered by those who practice IHL during armed conflict. The Competition involves multiple rounds of hypothetical case studies in which team members take on a variety of professional roles and field assignments. Knowledge of IHL and international public law will be tested in this competition, in addition to the ability to present, advocate, and defend legal positions to various parties throughout the simulations. 2L, 3L, and LL.M students are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the website at http://www.redcross.org/rulesofwar/clara-barton-international-humanitarian-law-competition.

In past years, the WCL has been represented by the following teams:

The 2012 Competition
Federico Barillas, Shubra Ohri, and Jeremy Kelley represented the Washington College of Law at the 2012 competition in Winterton, South Africa.

The 2011 Competition
Megan Chapman, Tracey Begley, and Elinor Stevenson represented the Washington College of Law at the 2011 competition in Najac, France.

The 2010 Competition
Kay Marshall, Jenny Norako, and Kavita Kapur represented the Washington College of Law at the 2010 competition in Orford, Canada.

The 2008 Competition
Peter Chapman, Abdul Omar, and Nicholas Reddy represented Washington College of Law at the 2008 competition during April 19-26 in Schwarzenburg, Switzerland,

The 2007 Competition
The 2007 competition was held in El Escorial, Spain, from April 14-21. Erin Louise Palmer, Robert Tanenbaum, and Ryan Vogel represented Washington College of Law.

WCL's 2006 Jean-Pictet team. From left, tutor Duncan Wilson, Katharine Brown, Christian De Vos, and Elizabeth "Ellee" Walker.

The 2006 Competition
The 2006 competition was held in Vrnjacka Banja, Serbia and Montenegro, from March 4-11. WCL students Katharine Brown, Christian De Vos, and Elizabeth “Ellee” Walker represented Washington College of Law. The team distinguished themselves, advancing to the semi-finals of the competition.

The 2005 Competition
The 2005 competition took place in Collonges-la-Rouge, France, from April 2-9. Jennifer Dorn, J.P. Henderson, and Kristen McGeeney represented Washington College of Law at the competition.

Pace/ICLN International Criminal Court Moot

The Pace/ICLN ICC Moot Court Competition is a moot court competition held at Pace University School of Law in White Plains, New York based on a hypothetical criminal trial argued before the International Criminal Court.  Unique to this competition is the fact that each team has the opportunity to write a brief and argue their case from one of  three different perspectives: that of the Prosecutor, Defense Counsel and either a Victim or State Representative.  Each team will then participate in three rounds of oral arguments with the opportunity of arguing from all three perspectives.  The highest scored teams will advance to the finals in The Hague to compete against qualifying teams from other areas of the world.  Pursuant to the rules this competition, “Students with any professional legal experience, which includes qualification as a lawyer, but excludes legal internships, are not eligible to enter the Competition. Students aged 32 and older at the time of the Competition are not eligible to participate. The Organization reserves the right to make exceptions to this rule upon written request.” For more information about the competition, please visit http://www.law.pace.edu/international-criminal-court-icc-moot-competition.

In past years, WCL has been represented by the following teams:

The 2012 Competition
The 2012 competition took place from February 10-12. WCL students Molly Hofsommer, Ivan Carpio, and Anna Taylor represented the Washington College of Law. Molly Hofsommer was awarded Third-Place Runner-Up for the Government Counsel Memorial.

The 2011 Competition
The 2011 competition took place from January 28-30. WCL students Justin Shore, Aileen Thomson, and Zsofia Young represented the Washington College of Law. Aileen Thomson was awarded 2nd Best Prosecution Memorial and the team reached the semi-finals.

The 2010 Competition
The 2010 competition took place from January 29-31. WCL students Megan Haskins, Safina Lakhani, and Tanvi Zaveri represented the Washington College of Law. The team was awarded second place for Best Victims' Participation Memorial.

The 2009 Competition
The 2009 competition was held from February 16-20. WCL students Jennifer Norako, Eric Leveridge and Kavita Kapur represented the Washington College of Law. Jennifer Norako placed third for Best Defense Memorial, and Kavita Kapur received third place for Best Prosecution Memorial.