What a lucky life, and heartful congratulations!

Another International Humanitarian Law Moot competition has come for the International Law Training and Research Hub. This year we have three dedicated and brilliant mooters. With my new position as full professor and director for Japan in East Asia Program at the University of Tokyo, on top of all the incredibly breakless job for faculty members at our university, as well as my medical surgery and sick leave, our start was really late this year. While I completely trust our team’s limitless ability, it is quite a job to start from scratch to getting the team together to discuss the difference between Bemba case and the fictional case. Or to discuss reasons why the Court must rely on a treaty even though the fictional State has not ratified the treaty.

This year, though, we had coaches – mooters from last year and the year before. They pulled the team together when I was not able to devote as much time as I wished. It is absolutely incredible what the team absorbed in the last few weeks. Finding time to meet and discuss, everyone putting thoughts and helping with cases, practicing speeches again and again…

At one point I started to really see how lucky I was to be able to observe the team’s endless potentials. It was nothing but a privilege for me to be surrounded by such amicable, humble and yet so dedicated students, who just continued to learn. I was blown away by the dedication of the student coaches. All of them shared a common goal, and they all kept absorbing new knowledge, smiling. None of them raised voice at any point, not even an eyebrow. The only thing that they raised was my expectation.

Then I wonder… the world may be facing a big difficulty in upholding human rights. Global governance may be challenged by recent events. But how can we lose hope when these are the people we have as our next generation?

I am now hit by the sense that I am, and have been, surrounded by incredible people. Former child soldiers in Sri Lanka who taught me so much about the reality of armed conflict. Timorese friends and colleagues who never gave up in order to gain freedom. Over 600 Timorese people who came to talk about their life stories. The lady who married her family’s enemy to protect her family. Those people who so courageously stood up for me when I was in a vulnerable situation. Those Nepalese human rights lawyers who did everything to get victims’ voices heard. Those people who offer so much help without asking for return. Friends from my university days who still remain best friends after all the moves by all of us across continents. My former PhD supervisor, who changed the way I organize my thoughts, and the super angels under her supervision. And now, these students. Fellow researchers who invite me to speak, joint research and more. Former colleagues at the UN who keep collaborating. And my family.

Yesterday I was walking on campus, and somehow, several students at different times called me from afar just to say hi. Today I met with a faculty whom I consider a friend, and she gave me a Christmas present in the colour I like the most. This place, where I was doubtful that has any place for me. Now I have such amazing people around me.

What a lucky life I have. I am truly grateful. Thank you.

And… I think this thread of thoughts was initiated by the International Humanitarian Law moot team experience this year. Thank you so very much for this incredible time.

Warm congratulations to the team, Team 307, the University of Tokyo.