PCHR Inaugurates Second International Criminal Law Moot Court Competition Project in the Gaza Strip



On Wednesday, 30 January 2013, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) inaugurated the second International Criminal Law Moot Court Competition Project in the Gaza Strip. The Moot Court Competition is a joint project of the University of Palestine, Islamic University, and Al-Azhar University, OHCHR, is implemented by PCHR and funded by UNDP.

A group of lawyers, academics and persons interested in the project participated in the ceremony that was hosted by Al-Azhar University, in addition to the presence of representatives of the partner organizations: Dr. Abdul Khaleq al-Farra, President of al-Azhar University; Dr. Riyad al-Za’noun, Head of PCHR’s Board of Directors; Dr. Abdul Rahman Abu al-Nasser, Dean of al-Azhar University Faculty of Law; Dr. Mousa Abu Mallouh, Dean of the University of Palestine College of Law and Legal Practice; Dr. Bassem Bushnaq, Dean of Islamic University Faculty of Law and Shari’a; Mr. Ibrahim Abu Shammala, Deputy Director of the UNDP’s Rule of Law and Access to Justice Program.

The Moot Court project offers high quality legal training to 30 law students, 10 from each law faculty of the participating universities tackling a variety of topics in international humanitarian law, international criminal law and human rights. Each group of university students is coached by an expert of law.  Through weekly lectures and training sessions, which take place over a period of 9 months, the coaches provide the students with a basis in international law theory and practice. Additionally, visiting international legal experts will come to provide training in their field of expertise related to international humanitarian and/or criminal law.

The ceremony started with Dr. al-Farra’s opening speech, who stressed the importance of the cooperation between local universities and civil society and international organizations in the process of developing the potentials of the lawyers, as in the Moot Court competition.  He also emphasized the importance of education as it is the core of civilization and the development of nations.

In his speech, Dr. al-Za’noun  pointed out that the purpose of this project is to teach the theoretical and practical skills to make legal arguments in accordance with international criminal law .  He also stressed that this project offers new prospects for exposing the suffering of the Palestinian people; i.e. the collective punishment measures practiced against them, including the blockade, military offensives targeting civilians, civilian houses, national institutes and infrastructure.  These measures fall under the crimes against humanity and war crimes, which need specialized and competent persons to prove them and build their legal case files.

Dr. Abu al-Nasser said that this project holds many messages, most importantly that after the recognition of the State of Palestine as a non-member State in the United Nations, the Palestinian people are now able to be part of the International Criminal Court, which increases our responsibility towards defending our rights.  He also asserted the importance of reaching out to all free people around the world and human rights organization to hold their share in the promotion of the rule of law and access to justice.

In his speech, Dr. Abu Malouh pointed out that the Palestinian people used resistance in all its forms, such as armed resistance; peaceful resistance; and popular resistance.  This project can provide them with a form of legal resistance. Students will be prepared to have knowledge of the international humanitarian law and human rights and to write legal submissions in order to access national and international justice.

Dr Bushnaq explained that the competition held between the 3 universities will enhance the competitive spirit in order to create a generation of students that can litigate the violations against the Palestinian people.

Mr. Abu Shammalah said that carrying out this program in Gaza aims to bring students to contribute to the development.  He also explained that the UNDP decided to fund this project for the second time due to the positive evaluation of the previous one.

At the end, Dr. Chantal Meloni, the supervisor of the project, expressed her pride in what the project achieved last year as students worked very hard under the supervision of the coaches; therefore, they achieved great results in short time despite the limited resources available.  She also hoped that the new generation of Palestinian students would be aware of the international development in the field of international justice, and that the Moot Court project will contribute to this aim. 

It should be noted that following the intense training period the International Criminal Law Moot Court Competition is to be held in July 2013. In the Competition the participating students will represent the parties of the Prosecutor and Defense in a simulated trial of a fictional case before an international tribunal, namely the International Criminal Court. During the Competition, the students’ teams from the universities will be given the opportunity to present their oral and written pleadings before a jury, which will be composed of esteemed international judges, experts in international humanitarian and international criminal law.

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