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Fifth Place for International Humanitarian Law Mooters

by Rachel Hay

Siobhain Galea and Daniel Westbury have achieved fifth overall in the Hong Kong Red Cross International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Moot.

This followed their first-place ranking at the Australian Law Students Association (ALSA) IHL Moot Competition last year.

“That was really exciting – it was the first that UTAS had won the IHL Moot at ALSA and had the opportunity to compete in the regional rounds,” Matias Thomsen, who coached the team, said.

Matias also commended Daniel and Siobhain’s success in the regional round of the IHL Moot Competition.

“Both mooted at an exceptionally high level and that was reflected in their scores for every round,” Matias said.

“They put in a lot of work, both during the competition and beforehand.

“They’re such experienced students and mooters that they were able to do this in a restricted time frame.”

The team researched, wrote and mooted on a complex legal problem which highlighted novel legal issues still to be resolved in IHL.

“The facts involved the type of political incarceration which happens when the government imprisons the media or political opponents,” Matias said.  

“It also concerned the legal test for what we call a disproportionate attack. There was a question about whether the collateral damage – the amount of incidental loss of civilian life – was excessive.

“They also looked at the crime of forced deportation. This happens when, in the context of an armed conflict, certain parts of the population are forcibly removed into another territory.”

The experience was valuable for both Daniel and Siobhain, as it informs the career paths that they have chosen since graduating last year.

Daniel is now working in Commonwealth Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Siobhain as an advisor to the International Criminal Court through the Tim Hawkins Memorial Scholarship.

“It was a unique opportunity to deepen our knowledge of a rich and vital area of international law,” Siobhain said.

“Wewere able to meet and be judged by some of the sharpest IHL minds in the region, as well as build connections with practitioners and like-minded students across the region.”

Matias encouraged students interested in IHL to get involved in the range of subjects and extra-curricular opportunities offered by the Law Faculty.

“We have elective units on International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law,” he said.

“They are taught by our Dean, Professor Tim McCormack, who is also the Special Advisor to the Chief Prosecutor of International Criminal Court on War Crimes.

“We also support students to compete in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, which runs as a subject over summer.

“There is also the International Justice Initiative, which is a student-led body which allows students to do applied legal work in the fields of international criminal, humanitarian climate change law.”

Published on: 17 May 2019 11:27am