A Rewarding First Participation in the Mandela Moot Court Competition

Portrait of Anna and Paula at the UN Portrait of Anna and Paula at the UN

25 July 2019

Our two LLM students, Anna Lochhead-Sperling and Paula Padrino Vilela participated in the oral rounds of the Nelson Mandela Moot Court that took place at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. A great opportunity to put into practice the human rights notions learned in class, meet other law students from all around the world and train public speaking and presentation skills.

In order to qualify for the oral rounds, Anna and Paula wrote a long and detailed memorial, arguing a case study before a fictitious human rights court both in favour of the applicants and the government. They competed against other universities from the UN regional group Western Europe & Others which notably included Oxford, Yale and Harvard.

Addressing Complex Human Rights Issues, Practicing Public Speaking and Making New Friends

Anna and Paula, coached by our Teaching Assistant Pavle Kilibarda, received excellent marks in the preliminary rounds, where they worked on a complex case that involved several human rights violations, including the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, the right to a fair trial, and the right to non-discrimination. The team did not make it to the quarter-finals due to great competition from the other teams, which we congratulate.

‘While we regularly participate in the Jean-Pictet Competition or in the Nuremberg Moot Court, it was our first involvement in this moot court. We are therefore extremely proud of our team’s performance which is all the more impressive as it was our first participation’ explains Marco Sassòli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘I enjoyed observing how teams approached the case, in particular which human rights violations were identified and how teams either argued for or against these violations during their oral submissions. It was also very good training for thinking on your feet and being able to respond quickly and clearly to questions from the judges on a range of complex human rights issues, as well as procedural rules of the Court’ explains Anna.

‘I really enjoyed the whole experience of participating in the Nelson Mandela Moot Court Competition. While preparing our submissions, we had to research and learn about substantive issues of many human rights in addition to procedures and case law of different international courts which was a great bonus to our human rights course. I value the fact that we were able to become friends with members of teams coming from all over the world, representing more than 40 universities. It was also a challenging exercise to combat nerves and practice public speaking, but overall, it was the perfect final to my LLM’ underlines Paula.

Nelson Mandela Moot Court Oral Rounds LLM Students

An Integral Part of the LLM Curriculum

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is organized by the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Two LLM students can participate following a competitive selection process carried out by a Geneva Academy jury. For selected students, participation replaces two optional courses and can be validated for 6 ECTS.

‘The Nelson Mandela moot court provided our students with an excellent challenge and allowed them to further hone both their substantive knowledge of the law as well as their public speaking and presentation skills. Above all, it helped them meet new people and create new friendships around the world, which is after all what this kind of competition is all about’ stresses Pavle Kilibarda.


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