Queen’s University Belfast comes away with top prize at Corn Adomnáin International Humanitarian Law Competition

On Saturday 10 March the fourth Corn Adomnáin International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Competition was hosted by the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast, in partnership with the Irish Red Cross, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the British Red Cross. Nine teams from Trinity College Dublin, Griffith College Dublin, University College Cork, National University of Ireland Galway and Queen’s University Belfast took part in the competition. Queen’s produced the winning side on the day, with a team comprised of Caoimhe O’Hagan, Ross Johnston and Sara Thabeth under the guidance of Queen’s University lecturer Dr. Luke Moffett.

Participants were put through a series of challenging exercises, which tested their knowledge of Irish Red CrossInternational Humanitarian Law itself, and their capacity to take the law out of the books and apply it to real-world situations. Scenarios put to competitors including the protection of shipwrecked persons after a cyber-attack on a fleet of vessels, hostage negotiations, attacks against medical personnel, investigation of war crimes and application of IHL in a densely populated urban area. The scenarios were judged by members of the Irish judiciary, Northern Irish bar, ICRC, British and Irish Red Cross, and staff from the School of Law at Queen’s University Belfast. As part of the competition, the students also took part in a Moot Court, where their ability to present and argue the law was tested by judges from the Northern Irish bar and Irish judiciary. 

Ross Johnston a winning team member on the day noted; “the IHL competition was challenging and really enjoyable at the same time. The variety of the different tests kept things interesting and really helped bring the law to life. We were surprised and very honoured to win given the high standard of our fellow competitors. It was great to be with so many people passionate about the humanitarian law and inspiring to speak to those working in the field.”

His teammate Caoihme O’Hagan said; “taking part in the competition was an amazing experience; as a team, we are all very passionate about the international humanitarian law and therefore it was great to be able to put this into practice. The competition allowed us to develop our knowledge and skills through different scenarios which we will probably one day face in real life.”

The Corn Adomnáin IHL Competition is named to honour the Cáin Adomnáin (Law of Adomnán), also known as the Lex Innocentium (Law of Innocents), which was stipulated amongst a gathering of IrishDál Riatan and Pictish notables at the Synod of Birr in 697. It is named after its founder Adomnán who was an abbot of Iona Abbey, a canon jurist and a saint.

It is often referred to as the “Geneva Convention” of the ancient Irish, for its protection of women and non-combatants and because it extended the Law of Patrick, which protected monks, to civilians. The legal symposium at the Synod of Birr was prompted when Adomnáin had a dream vision wherein his mother excoriated him for not protecting the women and children of Ireland. Ireland can be rightly proud of this ancient and inspiring law.

Irish Red Cross

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