NYU Team Participates in International Criminal Court Competition
May 27, 2020

This past March, NYU Law participated in the regional rounds of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Moot Court Competition, hosted by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University. NYU was represented by Tamara Sakijha (JD ’20), Amanda Fang (JD ’21), and Andrew Van Duyn (JD ’21), who prepared the oral arguments. Stephanie Williams (JD ’22) and Shuai Guo (LLM ’20) contributed research throughout the many months of preparation, while alumnae Bianca Isaias and Rashmika Nedungadi took time out of their busy schedules to coach the team.

The case was modelled after the ongoing Rohingya genocide in Myanmar, particularly the use of Facebook and Whatsapp to spread ethnic division. Posts on a fictional social media website, headquartered in one country, stoked ethnic violence in a neighboring country. The question for the ICC was whether the posts constituted incitement to genocide and whether the website’s owner should be criminally liable for the posts. NYU students took on the roles of prosecutor, defendant, and state intervenor, ultimately submitting 30-page briefs from each perspective.

The CHRGJ played an important role in facilitating NYU’s participation in this competition. Several members of the NYU Law community volunteered their time to prepare the team’s oral arguments, including Katie Wightman, Sara Robinson, and Professor Jane Rooney. However, no one could have foreseen the impacts of COVID-19, which led to the entire competition moving online a few days before it was scheduled to begin. The team responded admirably, using resources around the Law School to set up a makeshift courtroom, cardboard boxes included (see photo). Thankfully, there were no technical difficulties, and the team advanced to the second day of oral arguments.

Even though NYU Law did not advance to the international rounds, which were unfortunately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the students gained valuable insight into international criminal law and the workings of the ICC specifically. Just as importantly, the team members found peers with a common passion for the topic. And, who knows: one of them just might end up working for the ICC prosecutor’s office one day!


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