Exploring International Law: Insights from the 10th Annual ICC Simulation Competition

The tenth edition of the competition, organized by the International Bar Association and the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University, simulated the operation of the International Criminal Court (ICC). The competition was held between June 2 and 9. After two years of COVID lockdowns that necessitated online participation from students and judges, the event was finally held in person at the Leiden University campus in The Hague and at the Court’s premises.

The competition simulates the operations of the Court. This year, it covered the fictional case of “Prosecutor v. Corlis Valeron of the Republic of Regale.” The case was designed to be balanced, enabling all student teams to formulate arguments regardless of their assigned roles. These roles included the defense (for Corlis Valeron), the prosecutor, and the counsel for the state affected by the alleged actions of the defendant. Participating teams initially had to draft written submissions, then they were given the opportunity to present their arguments in front of the judges, who had previously evaluated their written work.

Competitions like this are crucial for students interested in the workings of these international institutions. Simultaneously, they are highly beneficial for their educators and mentors as they provide an opportunity to test students’ understanding of the field in practice.

Furthermore, these competitions offer a chance for those working with international criminal law and the International Criminal Court to model potential scenarios. The authors of the case used this year’s edition to test current international relations and model their potential application in front of the ICC. Over the last year, the UN General Assembly has exercised its often-debated powers under the Uniting for Peace resolution of 1950 numerous times to circumvent the Russian veto in the Security Council, adopting various resolutions related to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Now, competition participants have had the opportunity to develop arguments related to some of the legal questions raised by this, practically becoming testers and critics of a possible new international legal order, under the scrutiny of not only the judges but also the case authors—practitioners in this field who will inevitably draw conclusions from the students’ performances.

The complexity of the case requires students to be prepared not only in international humanitarian and criminal law and the practices of the International Criminal Court, but also to have a solid understanding of other fields of international law. This year’s debates around the applicability and potential effects of the Uniting for Peace resolution have led to interpretations of the UN Charter, jurisprudence of the International Court of Justice, and many other topics.

An additional highlight of this year’s edition was an extremely interesting experts’ roundtable discussion. High-level participants shared their opinions on current issues related to the ongoing war in Ukraine and the possibilities of attributing responsibility for crimes committed during the conflict and for acts of aggression. You can read more about this event in the article titled “International criminal justice is patient” on the website of the Centre for European Progression (https://c4ep.eu/international-criminal-justice-is-patient/).

Written by
Tamás Lattmann

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