Coinciding with the birth date of Nelson Mandela 100 years ago, the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition was held at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The University of Buenos Aires in Argentina emerged as winners, and the St. Thomas University in Canada, as runners-up in the final round of the competition.
A total number of 39 universities representing 24 countries from the 5 United Nations regions participated in the pre-final oral rounds of the competition, held in the human rights capital of the world. The Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, annually organises this event, in collaboration with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This year marked the tenth time the competition took place.
The two finalist teams appeared before a 6-member panel of judges including Judge Julia Sebutinde, a Judge of the International Court of Justice and the Chief Justice of South Africa, Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng. Other highly respected international law experts presiding at the final round included Commissioner Joel Hernandez, a member of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Professor Zdzislaw Kedzia, member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; and Professor Christof Heyns, member of the UN Human Rights Committee.
The final round was also used as an opportunity to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. Ms Kate Gilmore, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, shared passionate words about the life of Nelson Mandela, which was echoed by Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng, who stated the following:
“We have far too many problems around the world because people are after positions and power, and after building their own legacy rather than advancing what is in the best interest of the nation. Nelson Mandela has provided us with an example of how to lead a profitable and fulfilling life without undermining others in pursuit of self- interest”
During the competition, teams argue a hypothetical human rights case in four pre-final rounds. Four teams then proceed to the semi-final.
The top ten teams in the pre-final rounds were:
- University of Oxford, UK (Semi-Finalist)
- University of Buenos Aires, Argentina (Semi-Finalist and Winner)
- St. Thomas University, Canada (Semi-Finalist and Runner-Up)
- Army Institute of Law, India (Semi-Finalist)
- University of San Carlos, Philippines
- Macquarie University, Australia
- Federal University of Minas Gerais, Brazil
- Midlands State University, Zimbabwe
- University of Nis, Serbia
- University of Lucerne, Switzerland
The best oralist in the pre-final rounds was Grace Atwell from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The prize for the best written memorials for the competition as a whole was awarded to Midlands State University, Zimbabwe.