Symbiosis Law School, NOIDA Team – Ms. Purnima Mathur, Fourth Year Learner, Ms. Diksha Joshi, Third Year Learner, and Ms. Amira Dhawan, Second Year Learner entered into the finals of India National Rounds of the 19th Henry Dunant Memorial Moot Court Competition, 2019, and were adjudged WINNERS of the competition. The team also won the Best Memorial Award (tied with Nirma University). The competition was organised by International Committee of Red Cross and Indian Society of International Law from September 19-22, 2019 at New Delhi.

Ms. Diksha Joshi being interviewed by EBC/SCC Online Student Ambassador Ananya Gangwar. 

  1. Tell us something about yourself and about your moot partners.

I’m a third-year learner of Symbiosis Law School NOIDA pursuing Bachelor in Business Administration along with Bachelors of Laws. Out of all the things I do, mooting is one of those things I enjoy the most in law school. My teammate, Ms Purnima Mathur is my immediate senior, a fourth year learner who is one of the best orators we have in the law school. Ms Amira Dhawan, the researcher of our team, is in second year of the five year course. Yes, she is the youngest in our team and the most creative person too.

  1. Can you elaborate on the subject matter of the moot and how did you prepare for it?

The Henry Dunant Memorial Moot Court Competition was started by ICRC to promote and develop International Humanitarian Law. Therefore, the subject matter of the moot has always been IHL and continues to be the same. With the evolving use of cyberspace as warfare, this year, the problem focused on individual criminal responsibility of person committing War Crimes and Genocide through cyberspace. The alleged violations of IHL were being contested before the International Criminal Court.

The preparation time was divided mainly in three phases by the team. First step was to have brainstorming sessions with our mentors, seniors etc.,where we would discuss the case. These sessions were extremely insightful; they led us to new dimensions of the same problem. The proposition was sixteen pages long which made us realise that the facts give us the scope to make creative arguments. So the second phase included preliminary research on law and facts, since the problem required us to have clarity on scientific concepts revolving around Nuclear Power Plants, cyber-resources etc. After this getting ready with the skeletal arguments was the last step before beginning with the draft. We tried our best to stick to a timeline (although revised several times). Timeline played an important role for the purpose of vetting. Vetting helped us ensure a consistency and coherence in the memorials. I think its equally important to have a well formatted memorial with uniform citations to make it the best memorial.

Coming onto the core research aspect of the moot, it is to be understood that IHL also known as Laws of Armed Conflict is one of the most vital and living area of International Law.

The basics of IHL lie in world history-history of wars.So we started with reading Gary D. Solis’s book on Laws of Armed Conflict and slowly stepped into the respective areas of research. For good grasp over procedural law and for sound understanding of crimes codified in the ICC Statute we went through commentaries. I think the challenge was more than understanding the law. It was about addressing unsettled questions of law in Cyber Law which in itself has not been discovered to its fullest potential. I must say that Marco Roscini’s Cyber Operations and the Use of Force in International Law was one of the most helpful learning resources. However, it is absolutely important to know that most fundamental law with respect to armed conflicts remain the Geneva Conventions and its Additional Protocols. The proposition this year was carved out of principles of distinction, proportionality among others crystallised in Additional Protocol I. Therefore, we made sure that we are aware in depth about all the applicable laws.

  1. Were there any challenges while gearing up for this particular moot?

I think that the challenge in Henry is to be able to argue your case in five minutes. The time limit demands you to be very precise with your arguments. It can put you in a lot of pressure if you aren’t well prepared but more than this the real challenge is to argue from each side at every stage i.e. basically arguing your case eight times in a period of approximately three days (if you make it to finals) before twenty one judges and against a new team each time except finals. This does not happen in any other moot in India be it National or International. The process is extremely exhaustive but is more exciting than Scuba Diving, I’m sure.

  1. How was the final round like? Which team were you up against?

I am handing this over to my friend because I’m incapable of answering this question in written form. I mean there were so many emotions that went through me within these rounds. First, I was before a bench consisting some of the most prominent personalities in legal field including Justice Muralidhar, Prof. Bharat Desai and Dr. Narinder Singh. Second, this is one of the only moots where at final stage of the competition you are required to plead from both sides i.e. Prosecution as well as Defence. This became the biggest challenge when we were asked to plead from both sides with a break of five minutes in between against the same team. This was a real test of advocacy because one word said wrong was a final lost. However, I would take this platform to appreciate and acknowledge the commendable performance of my opponents from Dr. Ambedkar College Deekshabhoomi, Nagpur.

  1. How was the feeling when you stood on the stage with the trophy in your hand?

Incredible, trust me when I say that I was drooling over the 19 years old rolling shield and the Winners’ shield throughout the Finals.

  1. I believe you have won the India Rounds, what’s next? And how are you preparing for it?

Yes, so next is representing the nation in regional rounds of South Asia to be held in Kathmandu, Nepal. Since a new moot proposition will be released for the regional rounds we are working on our fundamentals of IHL and International Criminal Law right now. We are trying to make ourselves aware of almost everything which seems to be important with respect to IHL. We are also trying to keep ourselves updated about the recent affairs of ICC.

  1. Any advice you would like to give to the other mooters?

I think other than working to your fullest potential with all the devotion for the moot, one should realise his/her own style of working by the end of the first or second moot they do. This style of working needs to be merged with the expectations of the competition. So basically it is important to adapt while maintaining your own style. However, the most valuable ingredient to make a winning team is TEAMWORK. It’s a given that moot court competitions cannot be won individually. It is with the efforts of our whole team that we could win and I’m sure that same is the case with almost every winning team.

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