28 April 2020
The conflict in and around Gaza in July-August 2014, called by Israel ‘Operation Protective Edge’, claimed many civilian victims and gave rise to numerous mutual accusations of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL). In 2015, a United Nations Commission of Inquiry made its findings on violations on IHL and human rights committed in this conflict public and the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to proceed with an investigation into that situation.
In the framework of the IHL course of our LLM in IHL and Human Rights, students pleaded online during the entire day of 25 April for Israel and for Palestine arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.
In front of a jury composed of Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy who teaches this course, and Öykü Irmakkesen, Teaching Assistant who tutors this course, teams of two students (whose roles were attributed by the lot) have pleaded, most in English, some in French on:
It is the first time that these pleadings take place online, but Professor Sassòli is enthusiastic about the results in several respects.
‘Despite the difficult situation linked to the COVID-19, students – nearly all of whom come from abroad and are therefore even more isolated than others here in Geneva or in their home countries they returned to, and although teams had to prepare without face-to-face contact – showed a total commitment to the task and the highest level professionalism. All pleadings turned out to be good, very good or excellent’.
‘During the IHL class so far, students had been evaluated on written tasks. This oral pleading clearly demonstrated that students who are not particularly strong in written exams can be very impressive in exercises such as pleadings and clearly convey their substantive arguments, which are also legally accurate. This shows progress during the academic year, but also how important it is that we take different kinds of performances into account in our evaluation’.
‘Technology allowed all students to plead realistically. Only one student had to turn off her image because of an unstable Internet connection, but she could proceed with her pleading with her voice only’ underlines Öykü Irmakkesen.
In three weeks, the other half of the class will plead online according to the same formula in favour of Russia and Georgia concerning the armed conflict in Georgia in 2008.
During one week, Berta Fernández Rosón, Melina Fidelis Tzourou and Yulia Mogutova – currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights – represented the Geneva Academy at the 34th edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Denpasar, Indonesia. They reached the finals of the competition.
On 11 and 26 June 2020, academics and experts in the field of international humanitarian law, international criminal law, and animal law discussed online controversial issues related to the status and protection of animals in armed conflict in the context of a research project on this issue.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, discusses the protection offered by international humanitarian law (IHL) in non-international armed conflicts (NIACs) and addresses some problems and controversies specific to IHL of NIACs, including the difficulty to ensure the respect of IHL by armed non-state actors.
This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, focuses on the role of public international law in international relations and on international legal persons.
This research aims at building a common understanding and vision as to how states and the relevant parts of the UN system can provide a concrete and practical framework to address human rights responsibilities of armed non-state actors.