LLM Students Successfully Plead Face-to-Face and Online on the Gaza 2014 Conflict

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, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to proceed with an investigation into that situation and the ICC confirmed that it has jurisdiction over the situation.

In the framework of the IHL course of our LLM in IHL and Human Rights, students pleaded during the entire day of 24 April 2021 for Israel and for Palestine arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated it.

In front of a jury composed of Professor Marco Sassòli, who teaches this course, and Lizaveta Tarasevich, an alumna of the Geneva Academy and Teaching Assistant at the University of Geneva, teams of two students (whose roles were attributed by the lot) have pleaded on:

  • The classification of the conflict, of Gaza as an occupied territory and the applicable law
  • The blockade of Gaza and Israel’s obligations concerning humanitarian needs
  • The targeting of persons and objects and weapons used
  • Proportionality and precautions in attacks
  • The opportunities and obstacles of criminal proceedings before the ICC.

Most Students Pleaded at Villa Moynier in Front of the Jury

For the second year in a row, this LLM pleading could not entirely take place face-to-face due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, this year, most students – 16 out of 20 – were present at Villa Moynier, along with the jury. Those four who were not in Geneva or impeded by the sanitary conditions pleaded online. Out of the ten teams, three were composed of at least one student pleading remotely. In this configuration, all students were able to follow the pleadings of their comrades, most of them online, some in presence.

Professor Sassòli reports: ‘Most pleadings were very good, and some were really excellent! Students showed that they mastered the law and facts, their arguments were very convincing and they coordinated very well their interventions. Despite all the emotions linked to the context of Israel and Palestine, the presentations remained always nuanced, professional and respectful of the adverse party, while making the strongest possible legal arguments for Israel or Palestine, respectively.’

LLM pleadings on the Gaza conflict at Villa Moynier

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