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About

The unique Frits Kalshoven International Humanitarian Law Competition was first held in 2008. Since then, the Netherlands Red Cross and Belgian Red Cross-Flanders annually organise this weeklong competition to "take law out of the books" through simulations, role plays and a moot court. The teams' theoretical knowledge and practical understanding of international humanitarian law (IHL) is evaluated by a jury composed of highly experienced professionals in the field of international law. The scenarios the teams will deal with during the competition are fictitious but realistic scenarios of armed conflict. 

International humanitarian law aims to 'humanise' war, by trying to mitigate the human suffering caused by armed conflict. IHL is predicated on the subtle equilibrium of two diametrically opposed concepts: military necessity and humanity. 

During the Kalshoven competition, students will engage with IHL through a number of lectures, trainings, roleplays, and the final moot court. Lectures and workshops are provided by international experts. These experts are in the position to give enhanced insight into the many different facets of international humanitarian law, and will share their experience on how to apply the law in practice.

Participants will be challenged and tested through the two distinctive competition elements: the role plays and the moot court. During the role plays, students will have to apply IHL in a number of real-life situations where both participants and the jury play an assigned role. Possible characters in the role plays could i.e. be representatives of a government, legal advisers of armed forces and members of international organisations. For the moot court, which takes place on the final day of the competition, teams are designated the role of prosecutor or defence counsel in a fictional case of armed conflict. Having a limited time to prepare, teams will have to pledge their case in front of an experienced jury. Students are evaluated on their knowledge of IHL, their presentation and their answers to the questions of the judges. In armed conflict, unpredictable situations continuously arise - a strong and solid knowledge of IHL is fundamental to take the right decisions at the right time.

Registration is open to teams from Dutch and Belgian universities and the defence academies. Teams must consist of three students from the same university or academy. For more information, see Rules and Registration.

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