A Memorable Face-to-Face Learning Experience at the 2021 Jean-Pictet Competition

26 April 2021

During one week, Mina Radoncic, Stephanie Mutasa and Tamara Aburamadan – currently enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) – represented the Geneva Academy at the 35th edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Durrës, Albania.

One of the team members, Mina Radoncic, was nominated for the Gilbert-Apollis Prize, granted to students with exceptional public speaking skills and the ability to transmit the values of the Competition. Such a nomination is always meant to credit not only the individual member of the team but the three and their common effort.

‘Our biggest achievement as a team during this week was to grow together both on the personal and professional levels. We met many inspiring teams sharing the same passion for IHL and we also grew our network by exchanging with tutors and jury members participating in the competition’ underline Mina, Stephanie and Tamara.

Looking at the Interrelated Nature of IHL with other Branches of International Law

The Competition was centred around pertinent issues of international humanitarian law (IHL) and the interrelated nature of IHL with other branches of international law.

Through real-life situations, Mina, Stephanie and Tamara gained a better and practical understanding of the debates surrounding rules governing the conduct of hostilities, the treatment of persons in detention or engagement with armed non-state actors.

They notably played the roles of MSF humanitarian workers negotiating access to a refugee camp under the control of an armed group, of military legal advisors of a hypothetical state, or of political officials trying to ensure the compliance of government detention facilities with IHL and international humanitarian law.

‘The Competition put us up to the task of considering questions of IHL, international refugee law, international environmental law, international law of the sea, as well as diplomatic and consular law’ explain Mina, Stephanie and Tamara.

A Refreshing Face-to-Face Week in these Difficult COVID Times

‘Our students go through difficult moments with limited social interactions and most courses online for the last five months. We are so pleased and thankful to the organizers that Mina, Stephanie and Tamara – along with all the Pictet teams – could travel to Albania and have a face-to-face Pictet experience. This was unexpected and refreshing in these challenging COVID times, where online meetings have become the norm’ underlines Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

Precautionary safe-distance, hand sanitizing measures, regular COVID tests and helpful status updates made the competition a success. The restrictions brought by the pandemic also allowed for the development of new features.

‘The creativity of the organizers in adapting the simulations to the circumstances was inspiring. Apart from in-person meetings, we drafted documents and received surprise phone call simulations!’ explain Mina, Stephane and Tamara.

‘The highlight of the week was at the end of the closing ceremony, as the teams, juries, tutors, and organizers ran from the hotel terrace to the beach and many went into and danced in the sea, to celebrate the achievement of this week. The intense and challenging health circumstances created a stronger bond and empathy among the teams: it was not easy but perhaps that is precisely why we valued it more’ they add.

The 2021 Geneva Academy team at the Jean-Pictet Competition: selfie with masks

An invaluable Learning Moment

From this intense week, our three students – who are now part of the so-called ‘Pictet family’ – are bringing back not only stronger skills and increased knowledge of the law of armed conflicts, but memorable experiences and new friendships.

‘This week has been emotionally intense and intellectually stimulating for the three of us. I will always remember the friendships I made, the real-life situations we excelled at, and the lessons we learned and will definitely apply them in our future career paths. As we were applying what we have learned during this LL.M. at the Academy in the Competition, we were able to understand the law more and more outside of the books’ says Tamara.

‘The past months taught us how much you can individually grow through being committed to a team. The importance of a common effort and built friendships is engraved in every element of the Competition's leitmotiv ‘Meet, learn, enjoy’. Also, the roles we were assigned throughout the Pictet week were a showcase of not only learning the law but also learning how to ‘speak the law’ explains Mina.

‘It was amazing to watch our growth throughout the week in the different simulations. As a team, we looked not only at how we performed but also at how we could do better in future. This forward-focus approach is what I take away from Pictet along with the friendships, interesting conversations and great substantive and life lessons’ underlines Stephanie.

Part of the LLM Curriculum

Participation in this major IHL competition forms part of the LLM curriculum.

Mina, Stephanie and Tamara were selected following a competitive process and were coached by George Dvalaze, former Teaching Assistant at the Geneva Academy.

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