LLM Students Plead Online on the 2008 South Ossetian Conflict

Destroyed buildings during the 2008 South Ossetia Conflict Destroyed buildings during the 2008 South Ossetia Conflict

18 May 2020

The one-week long conflict over South Ossetia in August 2008 left lives, homes, and communities devastated and gave rise to numerous allegations of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL). In January 2016, the International Criminal Court authorized the opening of a formal investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor into the situation.

In the framework of our LLM in IHL and Human Rights and the course on IHL given by our Director Professor Marco Sassòli, students pleaded online on 17 May for Russia and Georgia arguing that the side they represent has respected IHL while the adverse side has violated IHL.

In front of a jury composed of Professor Marco Sassòli and Öykü Irmakkesen, Teaching Assistant who tutors this course, students (whose roles were attributed by the lot) pleaded on:

  • The classification of the conflict and applicable law
  • Classification of persons and territory
  • Killing and destruction of property of ethnic Georgians and allegations of ethnic cleansing
  • The use of weapons and precautionary measures during ground and air offensives
  • The targeting of persons

From Australia to Geneva

After the pleadings on the Gaza 2014 Conflict three weeks ago, this is the second time that this exercise takes place online.

‘Students came very well prepared. While teams could not rehearse face-to-face for this exercise, it was clear that they managed to practice as a group. As such, most pleadings turned out to be good, very good or excellent’ explains Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘Technology allowed us to conduct this exercise as if we were all sitting together in the same room. This is remarkable as we have notably one student who came back to Australia due to the COVID-19 situation. Besides the time difference for our Australian student, who must have been very tired at the end of the pleadings, it was like having him with us in Geneva!’ adds Professor Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

LLM Pleadings onlie South Ossetia Armed Conflict

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