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HSE Team from Nizhny Novgorod Win Silver Medal at ICC Moot Court Competition in The Hague

On May 31, 2018, the final of the Russian-language moot court competition at the International Criminal Court (ICC) took place in The Hague. According to the results of the Russia-wide competition, which was held in April in Moscow, teams from Moscow State University and HSE’s campuses in Nizhny Novgorod and Moscow were selected to participate in the finals in the Netherlands.

The theme of the trial was the legal definition of human trafficking, which is widespread throughout the world. The participants discussed the possible definition of such an act as a crime against humanity. No less difficult was the task of identifying the legal grounds to prosecute a company that used criminal practices in the shrimp clearing industry. Lawyers assessed the admissibility of applying the principle of "ne bis in idem" ("not twice in the same thing") in placing the blame on the director of the commercial company - a non-military superior who did not exercise proper control over his subordinates.

The finalists acted as legal advisers to the Defense, the Prosecution and the Representative of the Victims. The team from HSE Nizhny Novgorod consisted of 4th year students from the Faculty of Law: Alena Stafeicheva, Pavel Chesnokov, Ekaterina Shubina, Valery Golubeva, Fedor Lukyanov, Elizaveta Yudash and Maria Lisina. These students represented the DA’s office.

The trial took place at the International Criminal Court, Room 1, and was chaired by Judge Peter Hofmannski (Poland), formerly a judge of the Supreme Court of Poland. After the participants had spoken, he invited them to make closing remarks. The judge then retired to make a decision on the case.

HSE’s Nizhny Novgorod team came second overall and their speaker, 4th year student, Pavel Chesnokov, was awarded ‘Best Speaker – 2018’.

Elizaveta Shushunova, team coach:

The opportunity to get to know the real legal world, especially at such a high level, is invaluable. I saw how hard everyone worked and each of the team members has learned to think strategically, maneuvering between tactical issues. I think this is an extremely important quality in our profession. The contest lasted for 8 months and we shared many different experiences - but no one thought about giving up. The team members showed their strength, confidence and desire for victory.

Pavel Chesnokov, 4th year student, Faculty of Law:

The trip to the Netherlands was unforgettable. We were able to experience our chosen profession as participants in a court session before the judges of the International Criminal Court.

The Hague is a legal center of world significance. It is in this small city that a significant number of international courts, tribunals and human rights organizations are located. We learned how each one works and interacted with the staff.

The key moment of our trip was the final of the contest, of course, which took place on May 31 at the International Criminal Court. It is difficult to convey the emotions that we experienced. For a year, our team prepared for this event.

It took place in a very friendly atmosphere. Simultaneous interpretation took place so that all the participants could understand what was being said. It was a significant experience for me. The fine line between fiction and reality disappeared immediately. All the speakers were very convincing.

After the final, we were invited to a special dinner, where we were able to chat with the judges in an informal atmosphere and to ask them questions. They are amazing people, open to communication and cooperation and interested in the development of the legal profession. To be around such professionals, to talk to them face-to-face, was a great pleasure and an incredible incentive to continue to develop and improve our knowledge and skills.

We are sincerely grateful to our coach, Elizaveta, who was an invaluable member of our close-knit team and without whom we could not have achieved the success we did.