Conflict Unifies Global Politics Students

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Since October 22nd, Crothall 116 has been transformed into a time-warp portal whenever Global Politics 10 classes have convened. If you were to enter, you would notice that you had left Victoria. You would have been transported to The Hague, Netherlands. More specifically, you would have found yourself inside the Peace Palace. There, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was in session, but some very unusual cases were under deliberation. Normally, states are the only parties represented in the ICJ, but members representing unofficial nations were present — all of them debating the right to separate from the country under whose rule, they argued, stifled them.

What’s more, these plaintiffs looked very young, and if you — dumbfounded — inquired into their legal background, you would have learned that they had not yet graduated from high school. In fact, they were still 15-year-old students. Equally youthful representatives of the governing country opposed each plaintiff’s claim to self-determination. At the conclusion of what was almost invariably a heated debate, judges of the international court voted to agree, disagree, or arbitrate the claims in dispute.

I found this simulation to be very engaging, inspiring and educational — especially as the cases discussed were not fabricated, but examples of real-life conflict. My interest in the ICJ has been piqued, and I will be sure to follow their proceedings with a watchful eye in the future.

Our first major project in Global Politics was a simulation of the International Court of Justice, done through a series of debates, discussions and votes. As a class, we heard the case of two plaintiffs and an intervenor; each assigned a standpoint on a real international issue. The topics ranged from the Israel-Palestine conflict to whether or not the traditions of the Ahousat First Nations people should overrule Canadian law within their borders.

The three parties involved were given a period to introduce their standpoint and requested verdict and rebut each other’s arguments before the rest of our class began to ask each plaintiff questions on their standpoint as a whole or individual statements made throughout the process. After the question period the three would leave the room briefly to allow the class a chance to discuss possible verdicts and then vote on a solution. Upon the conclusion of the voting period, the verdict was announced — on occasion to the dismay of one or two of the parties involved. Oddly enough, these votes tended to end unanimously or with only two or three people opposed to the final result. Although these cases were only simulations of the actual ICJ court hearings, it gave all the students a chance to see how modern international issues are solved.

For full size, downloadable pictures, please visit the SMUS Photo Gallery.

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