The fourth edition of the Great Lakes Regional Training Programme in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights held in Kigali brought together a total of 30 students and 15 lecturers from 15 public and private universities from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda. They participated in a number of activities including an intensive research, a training seminar, two workshops and a moot court competition. This project lasted twelve months, but the training part for this edition lasted from 12 to 17 December 2016.
The training began with an intensive research on a fictitious case narrating various violations of the rules of international humanitarian law and human rights inspired by the local realities experienced in the region since the 1990s. At the end of this research, the two students representing each participating university submitted two briefs (memorials) defending in turn the position of the prosecutor and that of the defendant of a military commander prosecuted for having committed abuses during an internationalized armed conflict. In addition, all participants attended an interactive seminar on sexual violence in armed conflict led by an ICRC-Geneva expert, as well as two workshops on pleading techniques and the prominent aspects of the fictional case.
Throughout the training activities, there was also a moot court competition between the participating universities. Experts from Belgium, Burundi, Canada, Cote d'Ivoire, Mali, the Netherlands, Switzerland, DR Congo and Rwanda sat as judges and evaluators of the above-mentioned briefs. This year, Mrs. Fatoumata Diarra Dembélé, former Vice-President of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and a former judge at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), presided the jury of the moot court grand finale that took place in the Supreme Court of Rwanda.
This fourth edition was made possible thanks to the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (DDC-Geneva and DDC Kigali Regional Office), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the City of Geneva, Stichting Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (SIPHR – the Netherlands), the Utrecht University (Netherlands), the Société Québécoise de Droit International, the Pro Victimis Foundation and the Kigali Independent University (ULK). It is also worth noting the contribution of the Rwandan government through the availing of the courtroom of the Supreme Court where the final of the moot court competition was held.
The Great Lakes Regional Training Program in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights is an annual project co-organized since 2013 by Initiatives for Peace and Human Rights (iPeace) in partnership with the Swiss non-governmental organization, the Comité pour le Concours Grands Lacs (CCGL) for law students and lecturers from public and private universities from Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda to strengthen their knowledge in international humanitarian law (rules and principles applicable in period of armed conflicts) and human rights. This project also aims to enhance peaceful coexistence among young people in these countries by offering them a unique opportunity to learn and work together.
Since 2013, 114 students and 57 lecturers from public and private universities in these three countries have benefited from this continuous training which not only impacts the academic and professional aspirations of the participants towards international humanitarian law and human rights but also on the peaceful coexistence of young people in the region.
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