Global Taxes

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda to open virtual annual IBA ICC Moot Court Competition

Friday 4 June 2021

The International Criminal Court (ICC/the Court) Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is to give the keynote address at the start of the annual IBA ICC Moot Court Competition on 6 June 2021. The three-week International Bar Association (IBA) and ICC competition, organised by the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden Law School, is designed to enhance law students’ knowledge of the Rome Statute – the treaty that established the ICC in 2002 – and proceedings of the Court. Through the lens of a fictitious case, teams of law students address fundamental issues of substantive and procedural international criminal law. This year a record 80 teams from across the globe will participate, with a total of 497 online pleadings over the course of the competition and the participation of more than 240 volunteer judges, many of whom are IBA members.

IBA President Sternford Moyo commented: ‘It is wonderful to have such richness of diversity of competing teams in the 2021 IBA ICC Moot Court Competition. Having access to counterparts from around the world is part of the allure of the competition experience for the young international criminal lawyers of the future. They also value highly the variety and scope of the programme that includes panel discussions with experienced judges on important topics of the day pertinent to international criminal law as well as relaxed networking sessions. I applaud the organising committee’s dedication to providing participants with an experience as close as possible to a live event. I am very much looking forward to addressing the participants.’

Professor Michael P Scharf, Dean of Case Western Reserve University School of Law and Chair of the IBA ICC Moot Court Competition Board of Advisors, commented: ‘Thanks to the IBA, the Grotius Centre and the ICC, hundreds of law students around the world will get an unparalleled and potentially life-changing educational experience in international criminal law. The support of the IBA, as the global voice of the legal profession, has made this Moot Court competition a premier tournament with large-scale cross-border participation. Undimmed by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, the hundreds of practitioners, academics, and jurists from five continents who see fit to invest considerable time away from work or other duties to join us as judges nurturing the next generation of legal professionals is testament to the popularity and importance of the IBA ICC Moot Court. We are grateful for their resolute commitment.’

The opening ceremony will include remarks from Mr Moyo; IBA Executive Director Dr Mark Ellis; Professor of International Criminal Law and Global Justice at Leiden University, Professor Dr Carsten Stahn; and Professor Scharf.

The competition usually takes place in The Hague, Netherlands, but due to COVID-19 and Netherlands’ travel restrictions it will be held mainly online, the exception being the final round, which will be a hybrid format with judges adjudicating in the ICC Courtroom and the student teams pleading online. This will be streamed live for a public audience on 25 June, via the ICC website.

Dr Ellis stated: ‘Students often cite the IBA ICC Moot Court as an unrivalled privilege to be able to submit arguments and hone their persuasive advocacy skills before judges of the world’s court set up to hear the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression. The Court benefits too, as encouraging young lawyers’ acquaintance with the work of the ICC is vital to guaranteeing States’ continued commitment to the Rome Statute, as well as attracting countries that are not yet signatories. Each year, much effort is invested in ensuring the process replicates that followed in the real world and we welcome all teams to the competition, in particular those teams from Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Uganda who are participating for the first time.’

As part of the programme, Dr Ellis will interview former ICC Judge Howard Morrison QC: ‘Reflections from the ICC Bench’. There will also be a high-level panel on ‘Accountability for Sexual and Gender-Based Crimes: Progress and Challenges,’ with Patricia Viseur Sellers, Special Advisor for Gender for the ICC Office of the Prosecutor (ICC OTP); and a networking event on ‘Practicing law/teaching in the new normal’, including the participation of Annalisa Reale, an officer of the IBA Women Lawyers' Interest Group, and Fabricio Guariglia, Director of Prosecutions at the ICC OTP.

Ahead of competing in the IBA ICC Moot Court, student teams will have been successful in their regional and national rounds. Points are awarded based on pleading structure, knowledge and use of rules and principles of law, persuasiveness, and rebuttals. The semi-finals will take place on 23 June, with the final on 25 June. IBA President Sternford Moyo and IBA Legal Practice Division Vice Chair Carola van den Bruinhorst will present awards to the Best Non-Native English-Speaking Team, Best Newcomer Team, Best Oralist and Best Memorial.

This year, the IBA has provided competition fee waivers for nine participating teams from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Kuwait, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey and Uganda. When the event returns to being held in-person, the IBA will support two scholarships for teams to travel to The Hague.


Notes to the Editor

  1. The following events will be recorded and posted on the ICC website and/or streamed live: opening ceremony, Dr Ellis’ interview with Judge Morrison QC, the final round of the Moot Court and the awards ceremony.
  2. At the beginning of 2021, the IBA and Grotius Centre of Leiden University signed a new memorandum of understanding, which positioned the IBA as the primary supporting partner of the event and renaming it the IBA ICC Moot Court Competition.
  3. The International Bar Association (IBA), the global voice of the legal profession, is the foremost organisation for international legal practitioners, bar associations and law societies. Established in 1947, shortly after the creation of the United Nations, it was born out of the conviction that an organisation made up of the world's bar associations could contribute to global stability and peace through the administration of justice.

  4. The IBA commenced the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Law (ICC & ICL) Programme in 2005. The Programme monitors issues related to fairness and equality of arms at the ICC and other Hague-based war crimes tribunals and encourages the legal community to engage with the work of these courts. The IBA’s work includes thematic legal analysis of proceedings, and ad hoc evaluations of legal, administrative, and institutional issues which could potentially affect the rights of defendants, the impartiality of proceedings and the development of international justice.

    The Programme also acts as the interface between the Courts and the global legal community. As such, special focus is placed on monitoring emerging issues of particular relevance to lawyers and collaborating with key partners on specific activities to increase engagement of the legal community on ICC and ICL issues.

    Based in The Hague, the IBA ICC & ICL Programme consults and interacts with court officials, civil society organisations, academics, and international lawyers.

For further information, please contact:

Kate Orlovsky
Director, Hague Office
International Bar Association

Nassaulaan 19
2514 JT The Hague
The Netherlands

Mobile: +31 (0) 70 737 0686


Romana St. Matthew - Daniel
Press Office
International Bar Association

5 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1LG
United Kingdom

Mobile: +31 (0) 70 737 0686
Direct Line: +44 (0)20 7842 0094
Main Office: +44 (0)20 7842 0090
Fax: +44 (0)20 7842 0091


IBA website page link for this news release:
Short link: