Minsk, Belarus!

As most of you may be aware, I was part of the team from BPP Law School which recently took part in the XI International Law Competition at Minsk Belarus.

We made it to the finals! Additionally I received the ‘Best Speaker’ Award.

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The annual mooting competition is organised by the International University “Mitso” and brings students from different countries together for an amazing week.

Mooting is the oral presentation of a legal issue or problem in mock court proceedings – separate post on mooting.

The competition was on Public International Law and International Humanitarian Law (IHL). IHL governs the conduct of parties engaged in an armed conflict. It seeks, for humanitarian reasons, to limit the effects of war.
An area of law so abstract yet so relevant. Now I understand why a civilian should not be in camouflage and even more the importance of the Red Cross.

An original set of facts were given the night before the first round of competition. A problem question was then delivered two hours prior to rounds. Finally your position – Appellant (Prosecution) or Respondent (Defense) – was given thirty minutes to the start of rounds. Needless to say, that was intense with little sleep being the order of the day.

The first two days included lectures from experts in the field and were also focused on team building and experiencing Belarus, in a year that has been dedicated and so named ‘The Year of  Culture’.  I learnt that there are some customs that transcend cultures. For instance, in Belarus, in the past a wooden tool was used to beat clothes when washing. Well I can relate to this method of washing, often done in the river, growing up in Grace, St. Lucia. The creole word for this tool is pronounced ‘Barse’.

I made some great new friends, especially the team from Armenia.

Many persons have asked about my experience in a country where I was the first St. Lucian to visit (as per Airport officials at Minsk Belarus – definitely the first St. Lucian passport). As I have been pleased to say, I was well hosted and Belarusians are very friendly. Mr Blackman made a true statement, that people underestimate the desire of such countries to maintain peace. There was not a grandmother, mother, sister, friend, uncle or nephew who did not experience the pains and great loss of World War II and various monuments throughout the country ensure that the memory remains; in the pursuit of peace.

I cannot speak lightly of this experience and its impact on my life. Despite spending more time at every airport counter than my fellow team members, it was a wonderful experience. After all I was the 1st St. Lucian in Belarus (passport, as per Airport officials at Minsk Belarus)!img_20160926_194033

A special note of thanks to the Solicitors’ International Human Rights Group (SIHRG) who sponsored the team on this trip, along with BPP University.

My team members are not only excellent in the academic field but are also great fun. I am especially grateful to Edward Lowe who was the team coach.

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Finally just a taste of all the fun that I had – saw a reindeer which I named Rudolph.

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