Our Team at Pictet: Much More than Reaching the Final

11 April 2022

During one week, Francesca Gortan, Sarah Surget and Sophie Timmermans represented the Geneva Academy at the 38th Edition of the Jean-Pictet Competition that took place in Durrës, Albania, from 19 to 26 March.

After an intense week, the team reached the finals of the competition, along with the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the University of Cambridge. Sophie Timmermans was also nominated for the Gilbert-Apollis Prize, granted to students with exceptional public speaking skills and the ability to transmit the values of the Competition.

‘This is an extraordinary result and we are very proud of Francesca, Sarah and Sophie! Their ability to develop convincing legal arguments in the various situations they had to address, to share them in a clear and concise way, and to work as a team allowed them to reach the finals of this prestigious competition’ underlines Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘Participation in the Jean-Pictet Competition is a part and parcel of the advanced professionalizing training for our students. During this week, the team took a challenge to apply their theoretical knowledge to the cases reflecting contemporary armed conflicts. Yet, this experience goes far beyond mastering law. They learned how to adapt their language to the interlocutor, how to trust each other and work as a team and, more importantly, how to turn your opponents into lifelong friends. Francesca, Sarah and Sophie formed an excellent team and I hope they will use everything they learned in their professional life’ say Yulia Mogutova, former Teaching Assistant at the Geneva Academy and the team’s coach.

A Life- Changing Experience

Participation in this competition means much more than the sole results and the academic exercise: it is the occasion to develop enriching exchanges with the members of the jury and other participants, develop new friendships and learn how to work as a team.

‘It is hard to describe the emotions of this Pictet week. It was an honour to represent the Geneva Academy through the competition, particularly during the finals, along with my incredible teammates. Meeting so many fascinating teams, competing with them through challenging topics and learning from each of them were the best achievements of this competition. This would not have been possible without our coach Yulia Mogutova who prepared us with dedication and patience, and who has been our moral support throughout the competition’ explains Francesca Gortan.

‘Competing in the Jean-Pictet Competition was a one in a lifetime experience! I could not be more grateful to have participated with such amazing teammates and for the training and support we received from our coach Yulia and everyone who was involved over the past months. Meeting and learning from talented and passionate students from all over the world while negotiating and competing in challenging tests made this an experience I will cherish forever. I am incredibly proud of our team and all the other teams we had the honour of meeting this week. I hope to be back in the future as a volunteer!’ Says Sophie Timmermans.

The Geneva Academy team in the finals

‘This past week has definitely been a life-changing experience for me. From the incredible people I have met from all around the world, to the intellectually stimulating tests that the ‘kitchen’ prepared for us and the personal learning growth, it has really been incredible. I am grateful to Yulia Mogutova (our coach), and Gabriela Hidalgo (our tutor this week) but also to Francesca and Sophie for being amazing team members. I cannot wait to go back and volunteer!’ underlines Sarah Surget.

From Selling Arms to a Government to Negotiating with Armed Groups

Throughout the week, Francesca, Sarah and Sophie went through various real-life simulations – being alternatively an armed manufacturer selling drones and arms to a government, legal advisers to an army, or ICRC delegates negotiating with non-state armed groups.

In the semi-finals, they acted as legal representatives of a state in charge of drafting a peace agreement and having to address amnesties, humanitarian assistance, family links and the dignified management of the dead.

In the final, Francesca, Sarah and Sophie discussed, as legal advisers, the implications of creating a tribunal for ecocide and the crime of aggression and the role that victims would play in this mechanism.

First and Successful Involvement of a Student from our MAS in Transitional Justice

While participation in the Jan-Pictet Competition forms part of the programme of our LLM in International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (LLM) for several years, this is a primer for our MAS in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ).

‘This edition is also very special for us as it is the first time we have a student from our MAS in Transitional Justice – Sarah – participating along with two LLM students – Francesca and Sophie explains Professor Gaggioli.

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