Three joint J.D./M.I.A. degree students from Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law and School of International Affairs have been chosen to compete in the first annual Clara Barton International Humanitarian Law Competition in Washington, D.C. on March 12-15. The team includes C.J. Restemayer who will earn her J.D./M.I.A. degrees in 2014, Liz Aaberg ‘16, and Katie Marinari ‘15. This is the first moot court team being sponsored by the SIA faculty.
The team members said they are looking forward to putting their classroom and extracurricular experience to practical use in achieving their future goals of international work.
“I’m hoping to gain more international affairs experience,” said Aaberg. “I want to do intelligence analysis for the CIA.”
To be considered for the competition, the students prepared and submitted an application and a legal memorandum dealing with the difference between international and non-international armed conflict, modes of participation, and war crimes. For their memo, the team listed the specific conflicts, details of the conflict from start to finish, and the laws that were broken under the Geneva Convention. In January, the students found out their written memo earned them one of sixteen top spots for the competition. Now, the students have started to prepare for the competition in March.
The American Red Cross is sponsoring and funding the new simulation-based event in order to introduce future attorneys interested in international humanitarian law to real-world challenges. During the competition weekend, there will four preliminary rounds, one semi-final round between the top four teams, and a final round for the top two teams. At the beginning of each round, students will receive case studies building on a larger international conflict. The group will be assigned a role which could include: aid workers, military commanders, representatives of watch dog organizations, members of non-state armed groups, or other actors of the international humanitarian law field.
“They sent a bunch of hypotheticals,” said Restemayer. “We’re going to go through all the hypotheticals and have an outline prepared for each.”
Each student has a different dream job, but they all chose the J.D./M.I.A. program because of their interest in international affairs. Marinari chose Penn State’s J.D. program because of the opportunities to work and study abroad. Last summer, Katie traveled to Kenya to participate in the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship on the Affordable Greenhouse Venture in Kenya. After graduation, she hopes to move to western Africa to start a career in human rights.
The McQuaide Blasko Faculty Scholar and professor of law and international affairs, Beth Farmer is helping the students prepare for the competition. Farmer said the team is off to a great start. “Our first team made the first cut on the strength of their written memo. They did a great job on a challenging problem,” said Farmer. “They are thrilled and I'm very proud of them.”
The competition is named after the founder of the American Red Cross.