Jamaica world moot court champs again

February 1st, 2012

By Nomfundo Manyathi

The Norman Manley Law School from Jamaica has again come out tops at the World Human Rights Moot Court Competition. The school beat the United States’ Yale Law School to claim the victory for the second time since the competition’s inception in 2009. The competition was held at the University of Pretoria (UP) on 8 and 9 December 2011.

At the outset of the competition law faculties across the world were invited to submit arguments on the basis of a hypothetical human rights case. Based on these arguments, three teams from each of the five United Nations regions were invited to participate in the semi-final and, subsequently, final rounds in Pretoria.

The competition’s judges included chairperson of the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa, Pansy Tlakula; Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob; chief of the Africa branch in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Ibrahim Wani; and professor of public international law at the European University Institute in Italy, Martin Scheinin.

The 15 schools that participated in the semi-finals were:

From the African region:

  • Catholic University of Eastern Africa, Kenya;
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa; and
  • Midlands State University, Zimbabwe.

From the Asian region:

  • Parahyangan Catholic University, Indonesia;
  • Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines; and
  • National Law Institute, University of Bhopal, India.

From the Eastern European region:

  • The University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic;
  • West University of Timisoara, Romania; and
  • Debrecen University, Hungary.

From the Western European and others region:

  • Yale Law School, United States;
  • University of Lucerne, Switzerland; and
  • New York University, United States.

From the Latin American and Caribbean regions:

  • Norman Manley Law School, Jamaica;
  • Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina; and
  • Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Some of the semi-finalists who were not able to come to Pretoria for the competition argued their cases via video conferencing. The students in the finals were James Dee and Nila Bala from Yale Law School, who were the respondents, and Jermaine Case and Love Odih from Norman Manley Law School, the applicants.

Before the final round, Ms Bala told De Rebus that she was very excited as this was ‘an unparalleled opportunity’. Mr Dee added: ‘This is the first time that our school is participating so I am mainly feeling overwhelmingly excited too. We have done what we can to prepare; it will be a very fun experience and we will enjoy it.’

Mr Case said: ‘I am very nervous as we are the defending champions from last year, so there is a bit of pressure on us in terms of retaining the title.’

Other prizes included for the best oralists, which went to Ms Bala and Felipe Saldanha from Pontificia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro, and a prize for the best memorials, which went to Poala Alvarez and Carlo Sanchez of Ateneo de Manila University.

In her address, UP’s vice-chancellor, Cheryl de la Rey, said that the significance of the competition was ‘to provide future legal professionals with the space to develop and hone professional skills, particularly skills needed when presenting a legal case in a clear and convincing way and with sound arguments’.

Nomfundo Manyathi, nomfundo@derebus.org.za

This article was first published in De Rebus in 2012 (Jan/Feb) DR 6.