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International Criminal Moot Court 2016

On April 28th and 29th, 2016, an International Criminal Moot Court took place at the HSE Faculty of Law. A moot is an imitation of a procedure at the International Criminal Court, where students represent sides of the process (the prosecutor, the representatives of the aggrieved side and the accused country), and the judges are invited lawyers from Russia and European countries.

As part of the preliminary round of the competition, the teams wrote a memorandum on a suggested topic. A week before the competition, the second stage took place, where the selected teams made an oral presentation. The participants had to explain their position and get it across to the judges.

This year, the process was related to solving issues of piracy and the recruitment of children for military and criminal purposes as crimes against humanity, as well as the opportunity to recuse the judge.

Some of the participants and judges shared their impressions of the moot below.

Elena, participant:

‘I like moot courts, and I’ve already participated in Jessup. I think the person who motivated me to take part in this moot was my lecturer in international criminal law: he conducted the lessons so well that it sparked my interest in this area. I like the atmosphere, the procedure, the judges in gowns, and the participants’ speeches – usual classes rarely feature all these things. I’m not going to build my career in the international law, let alone criminal, I’m more into private law. Nevertheless, any moot develops your skills, and this will have many benefits. You understand that nothing is black and white, and any situation can be approached from different sides. A moot is the best way to learn law.’

Nikita Malkov, participant:

‘The important role played by international criminal law in today’s world is what encouraged me to participate in this Moot. In addition to that, the students at my university regularly participate in various moot courts, and this year they did well at Jessup. The International Criminal Moot Court is a very good experience for us, which will be helpful in our future careers and probably helps us to really learn something, since such moots make you study the theory and prepare intensively, better than anything else.’

Natalia, Universiteit Leiden (judge):

‘I’m now studying for a master’s degree at Leiden and, when I was an undergraduate, I used to take part in moot courts myself. It’s unusual to find yourself on the other side. While last year’s case was created by the same author as the this one, it seems to me that this year’s problems are more equivocal. There is no black and white answer for them, they have more hidden pitfalls, which makes the participants (and the judges, too) think more deeply, not in standard ways. The case, as usual, is rather topical (this year it is dedicated to piracy and to an unrecognized country with terrorist leanings). Speaking about the students’ level, it seems to me that nothing has changed really. Emotions after the round? Inspiration and laughter, I’ll put it this way. What I like about the moot most is the opportunity for the participants to get an experience they would never get as part of the ordinary legal education’.

Konstantin Degtyarev, University of Liverpool (judge):

‘This year’s moot is especially interesting thanks to its case. I don’t see any other significant differences from the previous year’s events: good teams, rather high level, and great organization.

I’ve never participated in moot courts as a participant. The biggest problem I see today is that the prosecutor’s and the aggrieved side’s position are very similar, and in fact, we’ve been listening to the same arguments twice’.

Text by Grigory Mashanov and Engurazova Sofia, 2nd-year students; photos by Diana Ovakimyan, 1st-year student

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