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The 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition was held at the University of Zambia (from 5 to 10 October 2015)

The African Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the largest gathering of students, academics and judges around the theme of human rights in Africa. This annual event brings together all law faculties in Africa, whose top students argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they were before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The Competition aims to prepare a new generation of lawyers to argue cases of alleged human rights violations before the African Court. Since its creation in 1992, the Moot Court Competition has brought together 142 universities from 49 African countries, and spawning the establishment of the leading programmes in the field of human rights teaching and research in Africa. In 2015, the 24th edition of the Moot Court Competition was co-organised by and hosted at the School of Law, University of Zambia, bringing together 183 participants in 61 teams from 20 African countries. In 2015, the themes explored at the Moot Competition include business and human rights, academic freedom, freedom of expression, child marriage and the rights of sexual minorities in Africa. One of the highlights of this year’s Moot was the presence of independence President Kenneth Kaunda who, at 91, breathed life and spirit into the passion and commitment of the future African human rights advocates.


Every year, all faculties of law in Africa are invited to send a team of two students – preferably one man and one woman – as well as their lecturer in human rights or international law, to participate in the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition. Teams argue a hypothetical human rights case as if they are before the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. This six-day event also includes a one-day international conference and sees the participation of students, academics, judges and experts from all over Africa and the world.

Over the past 24 years, the Moot Competition has become the largest annual gathering of students and lecturers of law on the continent. Established in 1992, 1132 teams from 142 universities, representing 49 African countries, have over the last 24 years participated in this premier event on the university and human rights calendar in Africa. The Moot has become a permanent fixture on the calendar of many African Universities and students compete fiercely to be selected as ambassadors of their university and country.

The Moot was co-organised by and hosted at the University of Zambia which, having hosted the second edition of the Moot Competition in 1993, became only the second African university to host the event twice in 24 years. This year, the event brought together 61 teams from 20 African countries, including for the first time:

  • Kings University College (Ghana)
  • University of Lusaka (Zambia)
  • Dire Dawa University (Ethiopia)


2.1. Registration and opening ceremony

Students and lecturers undertook registration formalities at the Mika Centre on 5 October, where they submitted their memorials (written heads of argument) and received the leading publications on human rights in Africa published by the Pretoria University Law Press (PULP) as well as branded T-shirts, bags, and water bottles.

The opening ceremony was held at Government Complex, in Lusaka city centre. Mr. Norman Taku, Assistant Director of the Centre for Human Rights welcomed all participants and guests. He encouraged Moot participants to take full advantage of the Moot Competition and the opportunities it creates for personal growth, urging them to be persistent and determined in working for a better Africa and a fairer world. Mr Taku dedicated the 24th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition to Professor Michelo Hansungule in recognition of a life lived for human rights education, youth development and panafricanism.

Mr Fredrick Mudenda, Dean of the School of Law and a student at the Moot Competition in 1993, and Professor Enala Tembo-Mwase, the Vice-Chancellor University of Zambia, warmly welcomed participants on behalf of the University of Zambia.

The keynote address was delivered by Dr Ngosa Simbyakula, Honourable Minister of Justice, representing His Excellency President Edgar Lungu. Dr Simbyakula reminisced about the Moot Competition in 1993 when he was Dean of the School of Law before reading a moving and uplifting message from President Lungu.

2.2. Preliminary rounds

Held on 6 and 7 October at the School of Engineering, the preliminary rounds involved all participating teams arguing the hypothetical case four times: twice as Applicant and twice as Respondent. The rounds are held separately in English, French and Portuguese and panels of judges made up of law lecturers (faculty representatives) award scores based on the following criteria:

  • Knowledge of facts
  • Articulation and correct analysis of issues
  • Familiarity with international law, with preference for African authorities
  • Persuasiveness
  • Ingenuity
  • Organisation
  • Ability to respond to questions

The results of the preliminary rounds were announced at Chicago's Lounge where, in accordance with the rules of the Competition, four teams proceeded to the Final round: two English-speaking, 1 French-speaking and 1 Portuguese-speaking. To celebrate African diversity and promote good sportsmanship, no two teams from the same country may be in the final.

The following qualified for the final round:

  • English
    University of Nairobi (Kenya)
    University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • French:               
    Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal)
  • Portuguese:       
    Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique)

By draw of lots, these four teams were reconstituted into two new combined teams with one English and one French-speaking team on one side, and one English and one Portuguese team on the other. By a further draw of lots, each new combined team was assigned a side of the case to argue:

  • Applicant:            
    Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (Mozambique)
    University of Pretoria (South Africa)
  • Respondent:      
    Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis (Senegal)
    University of Nairobi (Kenya)

Thus the important lesson of learning to bridge the artificial colonial divide of language and legal tradition is imparted. The young human rights defenders are challenged to work together to prepare new, combined arguments for the final round.

2.3. Excursion

On 8 October, Moot participants visited Chilenje House museum, the home of independence President Dr Kenneth Kaunda and his family from 1960 to 1962. It was from this house that Dr Kaunda directed the struggle for the independence of Zambia, which was achieved on 24 December 1964. He became Zambia's first President and laid the foundations for a great nation, which has never witnessed a military coup or civil war.

Walking through the apartments at Chilenje House put the students in the life of Dr Kaunda’s family fifty years ago: the furniture and personal effects used by the the Kaunda family and the displays illustrating the history and evolution of Zambia since colonial times had been carefully preserved for the enjoyment and inspiration of a new generation of young Africans.

Participants spent the afternoon at Lilayi Lodge, a game farm, elephant sanctuary and restaurant.

2.4. Moot Conference

An important component of the Moot week is the one-day human rights conference. Organised in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights (OHCHR) in Zambia on 9 October the conference covered two themes: child marriage and sexual minority rights in Africa.

The conference was opened by Prof Nkundu Luo, Zambia's Minister of Gender and Child Development. Both sessions brought together academics, policy makers and law-makers from all over the continent. The following papers were delivered at the conference:

Part I: Children, Not Wives: Ending the Scourge of Child Marriage in Africa

  • From agency to accountability - the position of child marriage victims and child soldiers in international criminal law
    Prof Mia Swart
    University of the Witswatersrand, South Africa
  • Ending child marriage in Africa: an institutional approach
    Ms Aderomola Adeola, Centre for Human Rights
    University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Federalism, legal pluralism and the challenge of applying international human rights law against child marriage
    Mr Felix Eboibi & Dr Solomon Ebobrah
    Niger Delta University, Nigeria
  • How culture can help eradicate the negative culture of child marriage
    Ms Adetokunbo Johnson on behalf of Prof Michelo Hansungule and Ms Olayinka Adeniyi
    Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Not a woman and not a child - Examining the role of socio-cultural practices in perpetrating child marriages in Northern Uganda
    Ms Jane Patricia Bako
    Uganda Christian University
  • Erasing a highly walked path: a new vista to ending child marriage in Africa
    Messrs Azubike Onuora-Oguno and Michael Addaney
    University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • Reassessing the fight against child marriage in Nigeria
    Ms Olanike Adelakun-Odewale
    Lead City University, Nigeria
  • ‘The curse of the Madzibaba’ - Ending the scourge of child marriages in the apostolic sects of Zimbabwe: A case for limiting the right to religion?
    Mr Simbarashe Mubvuma
    Legal Researcher-Veritas, Zimbabwe
  • Domingos Casamentos prematuros em Angola: Desafios ao estado Angolano
    Prof Antonio Gasper
    Universidade Jean Piaget Angola
  • An assessment of the legal framework and institutional mechanisms to combat child marriages in Cameroon
    Dr Avitus Agbor
    North West University (Mafikeng Campus), South Africa
  • Eliminating Child Marriages: a South African perspective
    Dr Kesolofetse Lefenya
    North West University (Mafikeng Campus), South Africa
  • Analise critica do casamento premature como violacao dos direitos humanos das raparigas em Mocambique
    Dr Stela Santos
    Universidade Zambeze, Mozambique

Part II: Leaving no one Behind: Protection from Discrimination based on real or imputed Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

  • Addressing the African perspective
    Prof Frans Viljoen
    Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, South Africa
  • International normative framework on protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity
    Ms Maria Soledad Pazo
    OHCHR Representative in Zambia
  • Experiences from the civil society perspective: working to advance on equality and non-discrimination against LGBTI in Zambia
    Mr Paul Kasonkomona
    Human Rights Activist, Zambia
  • The Zambian normative framework on discrimination
    Mr Landilani Banda
    School of Law, University of Zambia

2.5. Final and Closing

The Moot final was held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre, the same venue where it was held in 1993. The following eminent personalities served as judges:

  • Mr Likando Kalaluka (Zambia)
    Attorney General of Zambia
    Prior to becoming the Attorney General of Zambia, he was an Ex Officio member of Cabinet and Chief legal advisor to Government, offering expert opinion on issues of human rights, governance, and constitutional matters. He has worked for Interights in London, Disability Rights Watch and currently lectures Constitutional Law at the University of Lusaka.
  • Justice Duncan Tambala (Malawi)
    Judge of the African Court on Human and Peoples' Rights
    At the time of his election as a Judge of the African Court, Justice Tambala had just retired from the bench of the Malawi Supreme Court of Appeal on which he served for 11 years. He was also instrumental to the constitutional development of Malawi as a member of the Special Commission tasked with reviewing the constitution in 1998.
  • Dr. Attila Teplan (Hungary)
    Chief Legal Officer, Registry of the European Court of Human Rights, Council of Europe
    Dr. Teplan's expertise has been used by the African Court of Human and Peoples' Rights and the East African Court of Justice, where he has conducted series of capacity building sessions. He has been a visiting lecturer to the Centre for Human Rights and has served on several election observer missions in Africa and Europe.
  • Prof David Padilla (USA)
    Former Assistant Executive Secretary Inter American Commission on Human Rights
    Since retiring from the Inter-American Commission, Prof Padilla has shifted his focus to Africa and Asia as a consultant and Fulbright senior specialist, completing several professorships at the Centre for Human Rights and at Silliman University in Dumaguete in the Philippines. He has been a Board Member of the Institute for Human Rights and Development in Africa and is involved as legal counsel in leading cases before the African Commission on Human and Peoples Rights. He is also Extraordinary Professor at the Centre for Human Rights.
  • Prof Stela Santos (Mozambique)
    Professor of Fundamental Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Universidade Zambeze, Mozambique
    Prof Santos' forte is Women and Children's rights and has distinguished herself as a leading advocate in Mozambique. She is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Zambeze and currently serves as the Vice President of the Human Rights Committee of the Bar Association of Mozambique.

As the ultimate tour de force of the Moot Competition, students in the final displayed a high level of knowledge and skills, displayed great dexterity in answering judges’ questions, dodged their traps and even challenged some of the judges in return.

Judges recessed in order to deliberate and, on their return, offered advice and observations to the students. They mentioned how impressed they were by the high quality of the arguments, the depth of research and the interesting arguments put forward.


The results of the Moot Competition are verified by an independent auditor, Mr Edouard Jacot Guillarmod, Chartered Accountant and partner for 21 years at PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The following results are a summary of the top achievers. The full results are available on the website of the Centre for Human Rights: www.chr.up.ac.za

3.1. Best lusophone teams

  1. Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique
  2. Universidade Zambeze, Mozambique

3.2. Best francophone teams

  1. Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, Senegal
  2. Université de Kinshasa, DRC

3.3. Best anglophone teams

  1. University of Nairobi, Kenya
  2. University of Pretoria, South Africa
  3. Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana
  4. University of Cape Town, South Africa
  5. University of Malawi
  6. University of the North West (Potchefstroom), South Africa
  7. University of the Western Cape. South Africa
  8. University of Lagos, Nigeria
  9. University of Zambia
  10. University of Stellenbosch, South Africa

3.4. Best memorials

  • Lusophone: 
    Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique
  • Francophone:   
    Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, Senegal
  • Anglophone:           
    University of Cape Town, South Africa

3.5. Best oralists

  • Lusophone:
    Ms Wilma da Encarnaçao Silvia Mavie
    Universidade EduardoMondlane, Mozambique
  • Francophone:
    Mr Ousmane Tshimuanga Kalela
    Université Libre de Kinshasa, DRC
  • Anglophone: Mr Kessler Perumalsamy
    University of the Western Cape, South Africa

3.6. Winning team

  • University of Nairobi, Kenya:                                            
    Ms Isohi Cecilia Achaila
    Ms Lelei Cheruto
  • Université Gaston Berger de Saint Louis, Senegal:     
    Ms Fatou Diop
    Mr François Saa Sakila

3.7. Runners-up

  • University of Pretoria, South Africa:                                
    Ms Patricia Nkosi
    Mr Stephen Buabeng-Baidoo
  • Universidade Eduardo Mondlane, Mozambique:         
    Ms Mavie da Encarnacao Silva
    Mr Ambrosio Sambamate

In an interesting twist, all teams in the 2015 final were also in the 2014 final in Nairobi. Furthermore, the same universities won in both years.

As the curtains fell on an incredible week, moot participants were treated to a grand closing dinner at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Lusaka.


4.1. Meeting with President Kenneth Kaunda

A unique record of the 2015 Moot Competition was the opportunity to meet Zambia's independence President, Dr Kenneth David Kaunda, a contemporary of Jomo Kenyatta (Kenya), Abubakar Tafawa Balewa (Nigeria) and Nelson Mandela (South Africa).

As he gracefully entered the auditorium, everywhere spontaneously erupted in an emotional standing ovation. President Kaunda danced and sang one of his own compositions in the fight against HIV/AIDS in Africa:

We shall fight and conquer AIDS
In the name of great Africa
We will fight and conquer AIDS

Despite the weight of his age, he posed for photographs with every country delegation at the Moot competition, shaking each participant’s hand and imparting individual blessings. The Centre for Human Rights, on behalf of the Moot participants, presented President Kaunda with the gift of a special cane for his collection.

4.2. The Hosts

The success of the Moot depends to a great extent on the role of the host university. In 2014, the University of Zambia performed exceptionally well in this role. This was due, in no small part, to the institutional support of the University of Zambia: from the Vice-Chancellor, through the Dean of the School of Law, to the dedicated team of student volunteers.

The entire effort was organized and expertly held together by Dr Lungowe Matakala, whose personal story is a record in itself. As a young law student at the University of Pretoria, Dr Matakala participated in the 2000 Moot Competition in Ghana, where she won the prize of best oralist. In 1999, she participated in the Philip C. Jessup Moot Competition in Washington DC, where her team went to the finals and finished Runners-up. She became a lecturer immediately after completing her LLM degree, in which capacity she coached the University of Pretoria team, which won prizes for the best memorials, best oralist and overall winner in the final at the 2004 Moot Competition. Similarly in 2013, she coached the University of Zambia team which scooped all the prizes in the first Southern Africa Disability Rights Moot Court Competition. Dr Matakala completed the prestigious LLM in Human Rights and Democratisation in Africa at the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria; and a PhD at Kings College, University of Cambridge. She teaches at the School of Law, University of Zambia, where she also serves as the Assistant Dean in charge of Postgraduate studies. In 2015, she brought the wheel full circle by organising and hosting the Moot Competition with excellence and Ubuntu, the hallmarks of a true African human rights advocate. She led the School of Law to winning the Gill Jacot Guillarmod Award, and her personal effort was singled out in the Award.

4.3. The 2016 Moot Competition

The African Union has declared 2016 African Human Rights Year, to mark:

  • 30 years since the entry into force of the African Charter
  • 10 years since the operationalisation of the African Court

Commemorative activities will culminate at the seat of the African Commission in Banjul, The Gambia, with the simultaneous holding of:

  • the Ordinary Session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • the Session of the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights
  • the Session of the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

In realising its dual mandate, the African Commission has worked in close and productive collaboration with the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, which also celebrates two significant milestones in 2016:

  • 30 years since the establishment of the Centre for Human Rights
  • 25 years of the African Human Rights Moot Court Competition

To mark the shared history of the African Commission and the Centre for Human Rights, the two institutions will co-organise the 25th African Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Banjul, The Gambia, in October 2016.

It will be the first time that the African Commission, Court and Children’s Committee hold their sessions in the same place at the same time. The Moot Competition, will be a common denominator to these events, opening up singular possibilities for cross-participation and a rich experience for everyone involved, and leading up to a shared event by all 4 institutions on 21 October 2016 – Africa Human Rights Day.



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