Oral Rounds of the Mandela Moot Court: Our Team Delves into Complex Human Rights Issues related to COVID-19

After passing the first round and qualifying for the competition’s final stage, Anh-Thu Vo and Bettina Roska – enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law (MTJ) – participated in the oral rounds of the Nelson Mandela Moot Court that took place online from 3 to 16 July 2021.

Anh-Thu and Bettina argued – both for the applicant and the respondent – on issues relating to the human rights implications of the COVID-19 pandemic, including lockdown measures, compulsory vaccination, electoral rights, digital monitoring, and online hate speech.

While they did not reach the quarterfinals, Anh-Thu and Bettina received an overall impressive score of 86.75 out of 100. Additionally, the written memo they submitted to qualify for the oral rounds won the 8th place.

Addressing Contemporary Human Rights Challenges

Participation in the Nelson Mandela Moot Court allows our students to apply the legal concepts they have learned in class to contemporary human rights cases and challenges.

‘The Nelson Mandela Moot Court was a very enriching experience. Not having gone to law school, this competition was very daunting especially considering we would be competing with law school students. I learned a lot about international human rights law, and this competition expanded my interest in the intersection between social media and human rights. In fact, for my master’s paper, I am writing about social media and human rights in Myanmar’ says Anh-Thu.

‘The Nelson Mandela Moot Court has allowed Anh-Thu and Bettina to strengthen and elaborate on their knowledge obtained during the master programme, and to apply it in a dynamic setting. Throughout the preparations, it was a true pleasure and an inspiration to see how they have deepened their understanding of international human rights law and familiarized themselves with the jurisprudence of a variety of regional human rights frameworks. Bettina and Anh-Thu have greatly enhanced their oral skills, which was eventually noticed by the judges, who praised their oral performance at the competition’ underlines Ana Srovin Coralli, Teaching Assistant at the Geneva Academy.

Anh-Thu Vo and Bettina Rosk pleading online during the oral rounds of the Nelson Mandela Moot Court

An Intense Preparation

When preparing for the oral rounds, Anh-Thu and Bettina had two practices a week during three months, one with their coaches – Ana Srovin Coralli and Agustina Becerra Vazquez, Teaching Assistants at the Geneva Academy and PhD candidates at the Graduate Institute of International Development Studies – and another practice with guest judges consisting of peers, other teaching assistants and past participants in the competition.

‘During practices, the guest judges and coaches asked difficult questions regarding the case law, international human rights law, and facts surround the case. These helped me improve my public speaking skills, and in particular, I learned how to quickly think on my feet. Outside the oral practice, I spent countless hours researching more case law and tracking the constantly evolving COVID-19 crisis as one of the core issues regarded the pandemic’ explains Anh-Thu.


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