By Galina Vaneeva
The Justice Minister, Viktor Golovanov, welcomed the competition’s participants, saying that Belarus views this event as a demonstration of knowledge and the chance to exchange experience in the field of humanitarian rights. A team from the Belarusian State University represented our country at the Youth for Peace Competition. The event is among the most prestigious in Europe and, this year, its finals gathered 15 teams from 17 countries — including Russia, Georgia, Latvia, Macedonia and Singapore. Students of leading universities from over 30 states have taken part over the past five years.
The International Law Competition is overseen by the Commission on Implementation of International Humanitarian Law under the Council of Ministers of Belarus. It is organised with support from the Federation of Belarus’ Trade Unions and the Regional Delegation of the International Committee of the Red Cross for the Russian Federation, Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine. In 2011, the competition has become one of the first projects realised as part of the UN Academic Impact Initiative, which unites higher educational institutions and the UN, with the aim of supporting the ten globally acknowledged principles relating to human rights, literacy, sustainable development and conflict resolution.
A team of students from Singapore has won the 6th International Law Competition — Youth for Peace. A student from Serbia’s Belgrade University, Yaniya Simentich, was named the best orator. During the week, the best law students from all over the globe demonstrated their knowledge of international humanitarian law, role playing the settling of military conflict, solving intricate political issues and unusual legal situations, while enjoying each other’s company. All appreciated the high level of the competition’s organisation and its unique spirit.
The International Law Competition — Youth for Peace — is organised by Minsk’s International Institute of Labour and Social Relations. Its place can hardly be overestimated, as the competition is unique in Eastern Europe, being among the top three European international law contests.
The event solemnly opened at the Federation of Trade Unions’ Sports Complex in Ratomka, near Minsk — as is traditional. Many officials and foreigners were in attendance, with honourable guests stressing the special significance of the forum. As in previous years, all rounds took the form of role play. The final was organised as a TV chat show, with Singapore and India assessing invented events in front of a huge audience.
The cultural programme was also rich, allowing the competition’s participants to see Belarusian landmarks — such as Minsk’s historic sites and the Dudutki Folk Museum of Ancient Crafts and Technologies. The sports programme included a football match between Belarus and a team composed from the rest of the world. The Rector of the International Institute of Labour and Social Relations, Valery Tolkachev, noted that a friendly and informal mood reigned at the 6th Youth for Peace Competition. The event finished symbolically, with participants freeing white doves into the sky.
Valery Tolkachev, Rector of the International Institute of Labour and Social Relations:
We can say for certain that we’ve achieved success. However, it takes time to see results. We aimed high, sparing no effort. Importantly, a friendly and informal atmosphere reigns at the Olympiad, as befits the name of the contest and our traditions.
Jury member Emiliano Buis, a professor at the University of Buenos Aires and Argentina’s National Defence School, and an expert in law of the Argentinean Government:
I was participating in the Olympiad for the second time, coming first three years ago. It’s a great experience for young people. On the one hand, they can deepen their knowledge of international humanitarian rights; on the other, they receive the unique opportunity to exchange experience with foreign colleagues and learn something new. Accordingly, the contest is very interesting and its popularity grows each year. I’ve previously taken part in similar international events as a jury member but the Belarusian contest boasts a special mood and character.
Jury member Vladimir Vardanyan, a candidate of law, the Head of the International Treaties Department at the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Armenia:
From the point of view of jurisprudence, the Olympiad gives valuable experience for the students to apply back home. Moreover, they have the chance to make inter-cultural connections, improving mutual understanding. This allows students and law researchers alike to expand their knowledge.