25 February 2020
Yulia Mogutova is enrolled in our LLM in International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and Human Rights.
From 7 to 14 March, she will travel to Bali, Indonesia to represent the Geneva Academy at the Anglophone Edition of the 2020 Jean-Pictet Competition – along with Chiemelie Michael Agu and Melina Fidelis Tzourou.
The Jean-Pictet Competition is a leading IHL competition and one of the most innovative training programmes for students in public international law. This week-long event tests students on their knowledge of and ability to implement IHL, as well as other branches of international law, through role-playing exercises based on a hypothetical armed conflict scenario.
I come from Russia where I got my law degree at the Kutafin Moscow State Law University. My initial specialization was energy law, however, in my studies, I was always more focused on the international aspects of the subject and did a few extra-curriculum courses on public international law. After my graduation, I practised law for some time as an assistant of an advocate and also worked in academia before I got an internship at the Regional Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Moscow and then joined its IHL as a legal adviser.
It may sound a bit naive but I always wanted to make a difference, since the choice of the legal profession. Public international law has become my big passion as it addresses global issues relevant to everyone despite the origin and occupation. IHL and human rights, in my view, are among the most challenging branches of law as they tackle the delicate problem of balance between the interests of a state and those of an individual. My professional experience gave me a better understanding of how these branches of law work in practice and motivated to further advance my knowledge and skills.
I have extensive experience in various moot courts on international law. It has not only been part and parcel of my legal education but also I continued my involvement in several competitions as a coach for the university teams and as a judge. The Jean Pictet Competition differs a lot from other more classic court models not only in form but also in substance, in what is required from the participants. I have always been interested in taking part, however never had a chance to, so the LLM at the Geneva Academy seemed to be a perfect opportunity for that.
Firstly, we were asked to submit our CV, a motivation letter and a short essay on a given topic. Then, all the candidates were divided into teams for the oral selections, and it was the most challenging and exciting part, as even though the participants were to be selected individually, we were still expected to participate in a simulation as a team. Finally, we received the long-awaited e-mail from our coach George Dvaladze saying we made it. What did I feel? I felt that my dream came true!
I find it important that participation in the competition is part of the programme and the process of preparation is included in the educational programme. Sometimes it feels indeed overwhelming the amount of information we are supposed to process, however, I think we are really privileged to have individual training in IHL that allows us to deepen the knowledge and learn more about various controversies. The other crucial aspect of the preparation is the teamwork and it is a challenging task to make three different persons work in a coherent manner, with this respect we learn a lot from our coach and previous participants who share their own experience.
The most challenging moment for me is to learn how to apply your knowledge strategically. The beauty of this competition is that it is not enough to be good at law, you always need to keep in mind what your role is, who your interlocutors are and which goals you are pursuing.
What I enjoy the most is to witness how people, you think, you know, for example, your coach, convert into a particular role, e.g. general of the army, and completely change their behaviour and manner of speaking; while you are sitting there and trying to reconcile with the fact that someone who had been previously explaining to you the prohibition of the use of force, is now insisting on the legality of the offensive against the neighbor-State and threatens you if you try to contradict… It is really funny and impressive to see them playing their roles.
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