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[คุยกับนักศึกษากฎหมาย] Talk with Thammasat law students about the experience in the IHL Role Play Competition 2020


From left to right: Weeris Atichatpongsuk, Supakorn Wilartratsami, Nathat Chongcharoenpanich

The IHL role play team of Thammasat University has won the IHL national role play competition and become the Thailand representative team to compete on behalf of Thailand in the international round.

Weeris Atichatpongsuk, Supakorn Wilartratsami, and Nathat Chongcharoenpanich, second year students at the International LLB Program of Thammasat University have participated and won an International Humanitarian Law Role Play competition hosted by the ICRC. The competition is a one-day event which took place on the 10th of October 2020 and was followed by a Moot Court Competition on the 11th. The team was pleased to share these incredible experiences with us today.

(1) Process of the Competition

“The competition was divided into the morning and the afternoon session. In the morning session, the teams went to ‘bases’ in pairs and took the roles of Humanitarian officers. In each base, the teams faced different situations tailored by the organizers. The situations were acted out by the judges and organizers to show what really happens in the real Humanitarian fieldwork. The situations we faced include going to talk and examine parties to the conflict in various situations. In real ICRC work, the real combatants do not always know nor comply with the law. Thus, the real humanitarian officers had to improvise and negotiate using various skills to empathize and find the best way to make parties to a conflict comply with the law for the sake of humanity. The competition also makes us do the same. During each scene, we had to apply our knowledge of International Humanitarian Law and also think outside the box. We had great fun! The actors were very into their roles, and we had the chance to experience and play. Overall, when we were facing each situation, the event did not feel like a competition at all. It was more like a game in which both the participants and organizers enjoyed.”

“After the lunch break, the afternoon session commenced. Here, we move from roleplaying the work in the field to roleplaying the work in the briefing room. First, we had the chance to continue our roles as ICRC officers, albeit we must now report what we experienced in the imaginary war in the morning to our superiors at the ICRC. Here, we assessed the factual situation and applied the law to it. Thereafter, we, still as humanitarian officers, got the chance to brief the commanders of a party to the conflict to make them comply with the rules of war to reduce suffering. After that, we switched the role to legal advisors of a party to the conflict. Here, our purpose would change, and we have to aim more for the advantage of the side we are on while still complying with the rules of armed conflict. In all of these briefings, we were allowed to be creative in using the law for different purposes.”

(2) Summary of the Competition in 3 Words

“If we were to summarize the event in three words, the words would be Fun, Practical, and Insightful. We learned how to be practical and be more than just text-book lawyers. This incredible event taught us that negotiation skills, creativity, improvisation skills and empathy are important in Humanitarian work. Even though this part of the IHL competitions is still less well-known than its Moot Court sister, we can strongly confirm that it is not lesser in prestige nor lesser in the benefits participants get. Therefore, the role play competition is a must-try! The fun itself is worth it!”

“Moreover, from having won this competition, we got the chance to apply for funding from the ICRC if we successfully register for the Jean-Pictet Role Play competition, which is a renowned international humanitarian event for young lawyers. There is a chance that we might get to participate in Jean-Pictet in Indonesia. If we get this chance, we will definitely write to inform you, the readers, again. In the meantime, stay tuned!”

“Finally, we would also like to express our deepest and most sincere gratitude to the ICRC and Thammasat University for hosting this wonderful event and allowing us the opportunity to participate in it!”

Weeris Atichatpongsuk

 “As a law student who has not been participating in field activities that often, this is a great opportunity to practice legal theory knowledge, including “out of the book” experiences.  Learning how to deal with uncomfortable situations and pressure is important in the future work field. There, I found that those could be problems humanitarian officers encounter in real life. Diplomatic approaches and cooperation might be more efficient than “enforcing the law”.  This memorable activity was well organized by ICRC, thanks for the opportunity!”

Supakorn Wilartratsami

“I am glad that we participated in this competition. From the experience itself, this has been eye-opening in terms of how International Humanitarian Law in action works. The application of International Humanitarian Law cannot be limited just to theories. The people who work in this field, such as the ICRC officers, have to face real people and real challenges. Thus, they have to go outside the books and use non-legal skills as well. This Role Play competition has shown us just that. A big thank you to the organizers!”

Nathat Chongcharoenpanich

This was amazing. Everyone is so nice and I have got a lot of new friends. The staff are friendly. Although we still have exams, participating in the Role Play was worth it. I would recommend it to everyone. It will teach you a lot about international humanitarian law and you will meet a lot of amazing people too.”

Photo by : Ajarn Thitirat Thipsamritkul
Edited by : KK