Rules – Gunnar Rosén International Humanitarian Law Competition

The Gunnar Rosén International Humanitarian Law Competition aims to provide students with an opportunity to practically engage with international humanitarian law through role plays and a moot court.

Objectives of the Competition

Ensure a profound understanding of IHL among participants;
Develop skills required to apply the law in a practical and relevant manner to real-life situations;
Prepare the participants for a career in or related to IHL;
Support the IHL education given at Finnish academic and military institutions.

The Structure of the Competition

The Competition will consist of three written papers submitted before the Competition, of role-play exercises and a moot court exercise during the Competition.

Schedule of the Competition

Prior to the opening of the registration, the Competition organizers release the official schedule, which establishes the deadlines for the Competition.

Team Composition

Teams should be composed of three students registered at a Finnish university or National Defence University. The students must be enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s program, Doctoral Students or exchange students are not eligible. Students can participate in the competition only once. However, if the application of a team is unsuccessful, same student(s) are allowed to re-apply in the following year(s). Prior study in public international law, while not required, is highly recommended.

Application/ Registration

Registration will open on 11.12.2017 and close on 31.1.2018. The application is concluded online (via Lyyti). The Applicants should be prepared to include the following documents in their application:

  1. The completed team application form (available online when the registration opens).
  2. Electronic photographs of all of the team members.
  3. A team motivation letter (max 500 words).
  4. A maximum 1000 word paper on given subject (subject revealed when the registration opens).
  5. Three dates in February (weeks 6,7 and 9) on which the team is prepared to participate in training offered by the Finnish Red Cross

Applications received after the deadline may not be considered.
All team members should be prepared to prove their status as students during the competition.

Team Selection

Teams will be selected based on the submission of their completed application forms. Institutions may preselect the representing team. In such cases, the Universities are allowed to use additional criteria for selection. More than one team per University are allowed to apply. However, preference is given in the selection process so that each University has at last one team participating. Subject to remaining available slots, additional teams can be accepted. The Competition organizers determine the number of eligible teams each year. The team selection is finalized once a selected team has officially accepted the invitation to compete. If the team does not officially accept the invitation by the deadline, the spot may be given to another team.

Should one of the enrolled team members become unavailable after the submission of the application, the team must immediately contact the Competition organizers.

Registration Fee and Other Costs

There is no registration fee for the Competition. Students should however cover their costs for travelling to and from Helsinki and their accommodation during the Competition. The costs should preferably be covered by the sending University or their relevant funds.  If this is not possible, the students can apply for restricted financial aid from the Finnish Red Cross, should their participation otherwise be compromised.


The Competition will be held in English.


The members of the jury are carefully selected experts in the field of law, especially in the field of international humanitarian law. The sessions of the jury are confidential and are conducted behind closed doors. Each part of the Competition will be evaluated by at least two members of the jury. The decisions of the jury are final and cannot be appealed. 

The members of the jury are prohibited from sharing any information of the Competition without the prior authorization from the Competition organizers.


It is recommended that the represented institutions appoint a coach to guide and instruct its team. In case of unavailability, please contact the organizers. The coaches should guide and instruct the teams on general matters, such as where to find additional material and how to moot. The coaches are not allowed to pre-check/correct the papers the teams submit before the Competition nor in any way advice on their content. During the competition, coaches of the teams are not allowed to be present - with exception of the moot court. During the moot court, coaches are allowed to attend the performance sessions of their teams, but are prohibited to discuss the legal content and cannot advise on legal arguments.

The participants are highly encouraged to participate in courses of public international law, international humanitarian law, human rights law or other relevant courses as provided by their faculty.

Assistance to Teams

Throughout the competition it is not allowed for participants to consult external actors, including their coaches.  


The participants should take into account that the preparation to the competition takes time and effort. The Finnish Red Cross will offer the teams a one-day training (8h) on international humanitarian law before the competition. The training will be held at the team’s own university and the lectures are open to all students. The teams must suggest three dates on which they are prepared to participate in the training. The dates are verified when the participating teams are announced.

Before the competition, the participants will also receive a material package, which includes the key materials and conventions. It is expected that the participants thoroughly familiarize themselves with these materials and additionally conduct independent research.

The participants are expected to write three 1000 word papers before the Competition. The first paper is to be submitted in the application process and the two others approximately a month before the competition (the deadline for submissions will be confirmed when the teams are selected for the competition). These papers are evaluated as a part of the Competition.

During the Competition the participants receive exercise instructions at the start of the preparation time for each exercise. Teams will find proper instructions on the time available for the preparation and performance of the respective tasks. The time given to prepare for each exercise is limited and could even consist of merely being told what the exercise will entail. Teams will have to respect the scheduled preparation time. Showing up late could influence the result for that session.

The moot court exercise is prepared during the Competition – the teams are NOT expected to write a written memorial beforehand.


As the competition focuses on IHL, it is critical that teams build their arguments on this particular field of international law. If a particular exercise requires further attention to any other branch of international law, additional instructions will be included. A question may not necessarily always have a 'right' or 'wrong' answer: it is the legal reasoning and the way in which a team handles a difficult situation that matters. 


The papers submitted before the Competition shall be evaluated on the following points, listed in order of priority:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of the law, in particular international humanitarian law;
  2. Argumentation and quality of legal analysis;
  3. Structure and coherence of the paper.

The papers shall be maximum of 1000 words long. For each starting excess hundred words, 5 points will be deducted from the total score (maximum score for each paper is 50 points). Hence, a paper of 1001-1099 words loses 5 points and a paper of 1201-1299 words loses 10 points. The papers must have proper references to treaties, published works etc. in footnotes and bibliography. Plagiarism will lead to elimination from the competition. The footnotes are included in the 1000 words, however, if the participants include a bibliography in the paper, they can use short references in the footnotes (e.g. Koskenniemi, From Apology to Utopia at 35). The bibliography is NOT included in the 1000 words.

During the Competition, the jury evaluates each performance on the following points, listed in order of priority:

  1. Knowledge and understanding of the law, in particular international humanitarian law;
  2. Application of the law to the facts;
  3. Ability to argue and to answer questions;
  4. Teamwork;
  5. Role play;
  6. Time management.​

The jury evaluates the performance of each team throughout the various exercises and the points given in all of the rounds will be added together. After the preliminary moot court round, two teams that have received most points advance to the final. In case of a tie prior to the final round, the final teams will be decided on the basis of the score from the first moot court round. The team that, in the end, has received most points wins the competition.

Best Oralist Prize is awarded to the participant who is judged by the jury to have performed best during her/his oral presentations.​​​

The Finnish Red Cross may, as appropriate and as it deems necessary, promulgate or amend the rules prior to or during the Competition. All clarifications, amendments or changes will be posted on the Competition website.