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Lawyers Without Borders Canada’s Third Interuniversity Competition in International Criminal Law in Bucaramanga, Colombia Gets Underway

Catégorie(s): International criminal law, Training, Colombia, 2019

Ivan Skafar is a volunteer legal advisor with the “Protection of children, women and other vulnerable communities” project implemented by Lawyers Without Borders Canada and the International Bureau for Children’s Rights as part of the volunteer cooperation program funded by Global Affairs Canada. The project focuses on improving the protection of the rights of children, women, and marginalized communities as well as on strengthening democracy and the rule of law through access to justice.

April 23, 2019 marked the beginning of the third Interuniversity Competition in International Criminal Law in Bucaramanga, Colombia (hereafter the “Competition”) which will take place between April and June 2019. The Competition is organized by Lawyers Without Borders Canada (hereafter “LWBC”), in collaboration with the Universidad Industrial de Santander (hereafter the “UIS”), with the support Equipo Jurídico Pueblos and financed by Global Affairs Canada.

Providing students with legal training in ICL

The main objective of the Competition is to provide legal training to students in international criminal law from the perspective of the protection of the rights of people in situations of vulnerability, with an emphasis on the rights of women victims of violence in the context of the Colombian conflict. This is of course in the hope of stimulating the students’ interest in these areas of law. Furthermore, this training is offered in Bucaramanga (Santander) specifically to provide students in this region with the same opportunities to learn as those who live in major city centers, such as Bogota.

The Competition will take place at the UIS and consists of multiple phases. The first phase is a series of four workshops:

  1. an introduction to international criminal law and the International Criminal Court;
  2. Colombia’s special jurisdiction for peace;
  3. the participation of victims in national and international proceedings;
  4. a gender-oriented approach and sexual violence as an international crime.

A discussion session will also be held in which the students will be given the opportunity to choose one of the four topics of the workshops to discuss in greater detail with their peers.

The students will then be asked to write an exam in the second phase of the Competition in order to select the sixteen finalists who will continue on and participate in two more workshops, one on litigation and public speaking and the other on stress-management. These final workshops will ultimately prepare them for the final phase of the Competition, the oral debate.

A good start

As of the first day of the Competition, over 100 students from the following universities in the Bucaramanga region were registered in the Competition:

  • Universidad Industrial de Santander
  • Universidad Santo Tomas
  • Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia
  • Universidad Manuela Beltrán
  • Universidad de San Gil
  • Uniciencia
  • Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
  • Universidad de Pamplona
  • Universidad de Investigación y Desarrollo

LWBC is of the opinion that it is important that students from both public and private universities participate in the Competition together in order to generate a broader and more diverse debate.

90 students participated in the first workshop in which LWBC’s head of mission, Stelsie Angers, shared her expertise on international criminal law and the International Criminal Court. If the participation and enthusiasm of the students is any indication of what is to come, the Competition will be a great success.