The competition provides participants with the opportunity to put their knowledge of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) into practical, real life situations, and highlights to them some of the work the members of the Red Cross are carrying out on a daily basis. The name Corn Adomnáin is rooted in the Irish ‘Cáin Adomnáin’, or the ‘Law of Innocents’, which was one of the earliest IHL treaties and was signed in Birr, Co. Offaly in 697 AD.
The 2019 Corn Adomnáin showcased a wide variety of talent and knowledge amongst law students in Ireland with teams participating from University College Cork, Griffith College Dublin, the Law Society, and the 2018 winners, Queen’s University Belfast. This year’s theme was ‘urban warfare’ – a timely reminder of the armed conflicts that are happening in cities across the globe. The competition consisted of a variety of simulations, including role-plays and videos, encouraging the teams to put themselves in the shoes of those working in the field of IHL on the ground.
After a busy morning of running around Griffith College Campus, the teams broke for lunch while the scores were tallied up to reveal the two finalists as Griffith College and the Law Society who went head to head in a final moot court round. After a tough grilling from the judges, the Law Society proved to be the ultimate winners of the day – a well-deserved win, particularly as they were one person short.
The competition could not have happened without the assistance of the Awarding Committee, who provided great help in organising the scenarios, and of course to Griffith College Dublin who provided the wonderful location as well as a group of student volunteers, who went above and beyond on the day in ensuring the event went as smoothly as possible.
The competition was received positively by all those involved and provided an excellent opportunity for broadening the IHL community with representatives present on the day from legal, academic and military backgrounds. The students also heard about future opportunities in the Red Cross from ICRC representative, Sophie Da Silva. The Irish Red Cross looks forward to holding the Corn Adomnáin again next year, and to continue to promote and encourage conversation around IHL.
IHL international law and responsibility
As armed conflicts continue to progress across the world, the international community are facing more and more questions around the legality of and responsibilities in war. An interesting development is currently underway in Germany as the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights reported on a German Court ruling from March of this year that the German Government must begin to take responsibility in ensuring that international law is upheld in relation to the US Air Base in Ramstein, and US drone strikes. This particular case is in reference to the events of 2012, which resulted in three members of the bin Ali Jaber family being killed in a drone attack in Yemen. It is important to note, however, that this decision is not yet final. To follow this case go to: https://www.ecchr.eu/en/case/important-judgment-germany-obliged-to-scrutinize-us-drone-strikes-via-ramstein/
IHL conflict and hunger
As the one year anniversary of the UN Security Council Resolution 2417 passes this May, there are certain areas of IHL which can be reflected upon. The resolution, which is on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, deals specifically with conflict-induced food insecurity, famine and the starvation of civilians as a method of warfare. Under IHL, participants to an armed conflict have a responsibility to ensure that civilians caught up in conflict zones are not harmed. As such, it is important to consider how famine, a situation which is often disregarded as a mere side effect or natural occurrence, is related to armed conflict and how the UN Security Council is drawing our attention to the fact that parties to these armed conflicts can be held responsible for food insecurity under IHL. This is particularly relevant when we consider the conflict in Yemen and the widespread famine that is happening there. For more information on this topic, see the Development Studies Association of Ireland’s detailed summary from the Humanitarian Action Study Group discussion on conflict and food insecurity.