M2 Ayaka SAKAKIBARA
This essay shares my experience and thoughts on III. Kirimli Dr. Aziz Bey IHL Competition & Advanced Summer School in Türkiye from 4th to 9th September 2023. Participation in an International Humanitarian Law (IHL) competition was not my first time, but the conditions differed from what I had experienced in past competitions in Japan. Therefore, the six days were really exciting and challenging for me.
The Condition of the Program
The first unique point of the competition was that participants' development through the summer school was evaluated. It was the reflection of a variety of students. Their degrees in IHL were different from student to student; some had just started their studies at university. Lectures started with a basic theoretical framework and ideas of IHL and then moved on to concrete topics. Thanks to this flow, participants could keep up with the important discussion points surrounding emerging and controversial issues, such as the protection of animals and autonomous weapons and cyber attacks as means or methods of warfare.
Another distinctive characteristic of the program design was the emphasis on presentation skills. The organizer kindly allowed us to receive tutor feedback on our presentation after each competition exercise. They included the structure of arguments, how to display juries with our teamwork, and attitudes in delivering arguments; others were doing it, which was very helpful to improve our performance in the next section.
The other unique aspect of the program was that the participants had to compete with the other teams and their teammates. It was confusing at first, and I was struggling to build teamwork in the preparation and presentation times on the one hand and make better performances than my teammates on the other hand.
A Challenge and Development through the Program
The biggest challenge was the English fluency gap between me and the other participants. This mattered especially in constructing strategies with my teammates toward exercises. Their speed in grasping the contexts of scenarios was far beyond mine. In such a case, I could not join the discussions and lost chances to make use of what I had learned in Japan in constructing our team's strategies. Furthermore, it was also hard for me to interrupt discussions between my teammates and juries to help the former and add legal opinions and solutions. I was just one beat behind in starting my argument, making it challenging to join discussions. However, my disadvantage was covered thanks to our teamwork getting better and better.
When it comes to presentation skills, I made progress through the competition. I was advised to look at juries as well as members of the opposition side, to show confidence, and to present our teamwork by allocating the same length of time to each member in our presentation. To those points, I could improve my performance. The remaining problems were the volume of my voice and the emphasis on important words in my arguments. I will practice this aspect for another competition or presentation. The moot court completed by the finalists was amazing. It was apparent why the finalist could move on to the next stage. The audience could learn many things to improve their performance from the finalists' behavior, tone and volume of voice, and assisting teammates each other. It would be really effective to improve our presentation after the competition.
Overall, I enjoyed a lot through the summer school and competition. They enhanced my knowledge of IHL and my skills to deliver opinions and ideas better. The interaction with other participants was also memorable. I will inform members of the international law seminar at the university of my experience and knowledge acquired through the program, including the book "Kirimli Dr. Aziz Bey Collected Courses on International Humanitarian Law Vol. 1" introduced on the last day, which is beneficial for us to learn specific and vital issues in current IHL.
I would like to express my appreciation to my supervisor, Associate Prof. Hiroshige Fujii, for assisting me in participating in the program and having taught at IHL for years. I would also like to thank the program's organizers, lecturers, and staff for teaching, encouraging, and supporting me through 6 days.