16th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition

About the Competition

The Competition is open to undergraduate and master's degree students from all institutions of tertiary education in the world.

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is organised by the Centre for Human Rights based at the Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa, in partnership with the Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, American University Washington College of Law, and the United Nations Human Rights Council Branch (HRCB) at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Frequently Asked Questions and Answers for the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition:

Registration and preparation for the competition

1. What is the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition?

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is an international human rights law moot court competition. In 2009 the Centre for Human Rights at the Faculty of Law of the University of Pretoria, in collaboration with the Regional Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Southern Africa (ROSA), organised the inaugural World Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

Since then, the Competition has included the name of Nelson Mandela and changed its location from being hosted at the University of Pretoria in Pretoria, South Africa to the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.  

Participation in the Competition is open to undergraduate and masters students from all universities in the world. The Competition involves a written phase after which teams are selected for the oral phase. Teams argue a hypothetical case on issues of international human rights law, as if they were before a world Human Rights Court, on the basis of the International Bill of Human Rights and other applicable (such as regional) human rights instruments. The Competition takes place annually around 18 July, which is Nelson Mandela's birthday.

2. How and when should the universities register?

Universities are invited to register directly on our website.

Registration is done in two phases:

Phase 1: Faculty Registration

In this phase, individuals must register the institutional information of their faculty, along with the details of the person responsible for the team. Such individual can be the faculty representative, in the event a team does not have a faculty representative such details can be of one of the team members.

Phase 2: Individual registration

In this phase, each of the two oralists, including the faculty representative (if applicable) must register so as to record their details. Individual registration is only for the 50 selected teams.

3. What should the composition of the teams be?

Each university should register two students and one Faculty Representative.

Faculty representatives accompanying students do not have to be members (staff) of faculty such as lecturers or professors. They can be students and or individuals accompanying the two students (oralists). In addition, it is not compulsory that a faculty representative accompany the two students to Geneva. Team members will not be penalised in the event that they are not accompanied by a ‘faculty representative’.

Please note that: Teams are welcome to bring three (3) individuals as observers. The names of such individuals should be communicated to the organisers by no later than 1 May 2023.

4. How should teams, representing their University Faculty be selected for the Competition?

It is the responsibility of the Faculty to select its students. As the organiser of the Competition, the Centre for Human Rights cannot be involved in the selection of students. Only one team per university/faculty may apply.

5. Where can we find the rules of the Competition?

Universities should ensure that they have read the Rules even if they are regular participants. The Rules can be found on the Documents Page of the World Moot website.

6. How and by whom should the memorials be prepared and drafted?

The writing of memorials should be done by the students themselves under the supervision and guidance of the Faculty Representative. Under no circumstances should the Faculty Representative be directly involved in the writing of memorials. Memorials must be submitted strictly according to the guidelines provided in the Rules. Each team must prepare memorials for the Applicant and the Respondent. These memorials must be emailed to tapiwa.mhuru@up.ac.za  by the relevant deadline which can be found on the Calendar.

7. How should students prepare their oral presentation?

Both team members must act as oralists during all rounds. No team may argue for longer than 30 minutes (including rebuttal) during the oral preliminary, quarter-final, semi-final or final rounds. Time for rebuttal should be drawn from the 30 minutes mentioned above and rebuttal should not exceed 5 minutes. Only the Applicant has the opportunity for rebuttal. Respondents do not have the opportunity to rebuttal and should divide their 30 minutes accordingly.

Faculty Representatives should ensure that both students are prepared to deliver the full argument for the team. In the event that one of the students falls ill or unforeseen circumstances occur, the other participant should be able to argue the case ex parte.

Selection of teams to participate in the competition

1. What happens during the oral rounds?

The top 50 teams with the highest memorial scores will be invited to participate in the preliminary rounds. Team memorials will be made available to the judges at the time of the hearing. However, teams are not bound to their memorials when making oral arguments. Memorials will not be taken into consideration when the teams are scored in these rounds. Lots will be drawn before the pre-final rounds to determine sides and which teams will compete against each other.

The preliminary rounds are separated by language: anglophones will compete with anglophones, francophones with francophones, etc. The eight teams with the highest scores during the preliminary rounds in each of the languages (the English, French and Spanish) automatically advance to the quarter-final rounds. Another draw of lots will determine sides and which teams will compete against each other. Simultaneous interpretation will be provided so as to allow teams competing in different languages to face each other in court. 

In sequence, the winning team in each of the four quarter-final rounds advances to the semi-final rounds, which also have simultaneous interpretation. The two best teams in the semi-final rounds advance to the final round of the Competition. 

2. Can the organisers intervene at any stage during the preliminary rounds?

A Steering Committee is established to deal with all matters related to the Competition in interpreting the rules, including complaints, procedural and substantive matters. Judges in the preliminary rounds are human rights experts selected by the organisers. They receive a briefing about the Rules and the criteria of assessment which they are trusted to apply in good faith. The judges are independent. The organisers cannot interfere except in cases of miscalculations. All marks are verified and certified by an independent auditor.

 Practical arrangements

1. Travel-related matters

1.1 When do the students need to present their travel documents?

It is the responsibility of each university to ensure the preparation of all travel documents its participants will need. Universities should make sure that the students they select have a valid passport at least two months before the competition and that the expiration date of the passport is not within less than three months of the date of arrival in Switzerland. The organisers will provide the necessary documentation for the visa application. The visa application process itself should commence as soon as faculties receive the relevant documents, organisers are not responsible for the application and tracking of visas.

1.2 Flights and airport transfers

Participants are responsible for booking and funding their own travel to and from Geneva. Participants should provide the organisers with their arrival and departure information as per the calendar. In the event that a team encounter any transport cancellation or delay, the organisers should be contacted immediately, and the new itinerary should be sent to the organisers as soon as possible.  The organisers are not responsible for any delay, cancellation of travel or the failure of the participants to reconfirm their travel. If this involves financial costs, participants must take full responsibility and contact the airlines directly.  

All information relating to the Programme will be sent to participants a few weeks before the Competition. Participants should read this information carefully and note all the relevant contact details.

2. Funding and Fundraising

Although no registration fees are charged, participants must cover all their own costs (air tickets or other transport, accommodation, meals and medical insurance, etc).

As participants have to cover all their costs, they are encouraged to begin fundraising as soon as possible. Donors may include embassies, the UN and EU, bar associations and law firms, corporate donors and their own universities.

3. Should we obtain health insurance?

When travelling abroad, health is one of the most important things travellers should bear in mind. The organisers are not able to take responsibility in case of any health problems. Participants should therefore ensure that they have the relevant medical insurance. Participants who take regular medication should ensure they bring this specific medication.


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