NEWS

ICU Student Wins Best Speaker Award at Jean-Pictet Competition on International Humanitarian Law

Update: May 15, 2019

The ICU team (from L to R): Kalika Kastein, Toshiki Narushiima, Makoto FujiokaThe ICU team (from L to R): Kalika Kastein, Toshiki Narushiima, Makoto Fujioka

From March 30 to April 6, 2019, an ICU team consisted of three students: Kalika Kastein, a graduate student and Rotary Peace Fellow, and Toshiki Narushima and Makoto Fujioka, a 4th-year and a 3rd-year student respectively, participated in the 32nd Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition; Kalika Kastein was awarded the Gilbert-Apollis Award to the best speaker of the English-speaking session. Among 150 participants in the competition, the award was given to two students--one in the English-speaking group and one in the French-speaking group--who were selected based on criteria such as lucidity of argument, the ability to work as a team member, cultural sensitivity, respect for others, and good listening skills.

This was the first time for ICU to send a team to the Jean-Pictet Competition. So far, only one Japanese university has participated in the competition before ICU. The team's participation was realized through financial support provided by the Japan ICU Foundation (JICUF).

Comment by the ICU Jean-Pictet team:

In ICU, students sign a pledge to support the university philosophy and spend their ICU days abiding by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, the impact of that commitment is something that we came to a deeper understanding of through our experience a part of ICU's Jean Pictet team. Through the Jean Pictet competition, we were able to role play in the position of numerous parties to a conflict. Whether we were walking through the woods representing NGO staff in the field or sitting in a conference room as mock legal advocates, we had to think quickly to respond amidst a fictional conflict situation while upholding human rights in tandem with humanitarian law. Although in a privileged environment like ICU, it can seem like armed conflicts are distant, participating in the Pictet drove home how important it is for all of us as global citizens to advocate for principles like distinction and proportionality, and stand against unnecessary suffering, since legal precedent often shapes the future.

Being a part of a university founded on ideals of peace certainly contributed to our team's positive performance. As one of the few schools consisting of non-law students in the English section, taking home the Gilbert-Apollis award demonstrates how the ICU team was able to work together to overcome a field of fierce competitors using our strong liberal arts backgrounds. Using empathy, compassion, and the knowledge gained from our diverse majors (peace studies, philosophy, and public policy) as liberal arts students we contributed another perspective to international humanitarian law beyond the knowledge and recitation of legal statutes. Our success is evidence of how ICU's liberal arts education and peace-based approach prepares students to think critically and enact change.

Comments by Assistant Professor Matsuda (majored in law, japan studies) who guided the students:

The Jean-Pictet Competition is one of the most prestigious competitions in the field of international humanitarian law. Law students from all over the world learn how to cope with the humanitarian crisis through role-playing. This year, ICU students who took the graduate course "Law and Peace" participated in this competition for the first time.

This best speaker's award demonstrates that ICU's "legal education in liberal arts" is the top level in the world in terms of legal expertise, interdisciplinary knowledge, and cultural sensitivity. I thank JICUF for the warm support, and I am looking forward to encouraging more ICU students to participate in international competitions.

*This article is based on the JICUF news article published on May 1, 2019 with additions by ICU.

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