Our students successful at the 2021 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Our students successful at the 2021 Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Students of the Charles University Faculty of Law regularly participate in a simulated dispute before the UN International Court of Justice in the Hague called the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition. The faculty’s team in the last academic year was made up of Jan Mais, Sára Mirabell Hátlová, Petra Rešlová, Enes Zaimović and Antonín Čermák. They were coached by Dr. Milan Lipovský from the Department of Public International Law. Enes Zaimović and Sára Hátlová, both fifth-year students, competed as the applicant. Petra Rešlová and Jan Mais, both fourth-year students, argued the case as the respondent. Third-year student Antonín Čermák participated in the role of researcher.

The team achieved a huge success by qualifying for the Advanced Global Rounds for the first time in the several decades that teams from various Czech universities have participated in the competition. They finished 79th out of 570 teams from all around the world. 

The Jessup is the world’s largest moot court competition in international law. It simulates a dispute between two fictional states before the International Court of Justice. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, radical changes to the form of the competition were made. The pandemic did not allow the participants to travel to Washington D.C., where the international oral rounds normally take place. As a result, our team stayed home, and competed from their homes in the midst of the worst wave of the pandemic and its related restrictions. In light of these difficult conditions and complicated access to resources, the team deserves special recognition and acknowledgement for its excellent representation of the Law Faculty.

As always, the topic of the competition was close to real-life international relations, so the 2021 case concerned the J-VID-19 global pandemic and the responsibility of states for measures against the spread of the disease, applications for asylum lodged by a politically persecuted scientist, automatic objections to the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice, and also a state’s responsibility for shooting down an airplane.

The demanding competition starts with the drafting of a written pleading called a “memorial” for each party. In the words of the participating students: “Basically right after the lively celebration of submitting the memorials in January (with a break for the examination period), we dived into intensive preparation for the international oral rounds. And that was when the real fun started. The preparation time flew by and then we proceeded with the Exhibition Rounds, where we had a trial run with our pleadings.”

The submission of written pleadings is followed by oral rounds, which this year included both exhibition rounds and competition rounds. The oral rounds were fully virtual this time, which proved to be a technical advantage, but also a disadvantage time-wise, because there were participants from different, and often very distant, time zones in one virtual room. However, the faculty’s team coped well with the situation, and the possibility to turn off the camera also allowed for an immediate celebration after the success at the competition.

A new year of the competition is about to start, which will open the very exciting topics of human rights on the Internet, data theft, the cessation of part of a nation’s territory, and foreign election interference. The competition will be held online again this year. The team also said: “If you are looking for an unforgettable and an immensely beneficial experience, and you want to learn how to work with many different sources, improve your English, and get to plead before the world’s authorities, such as a defense attorney at the US Supreme Court, and if successful, even before the ICJ judges themselves, file an application for the competition.” The Jessup competition is not only about knowledge and hard work, but perhaps more importantly, about the community of current and former competitors. All the judges always say: “Believe me, you will come back next year. I myself competed in...”

If you are competitive at heart, interested in public international law, and want to know what the atmosphere of the International Court of Justice feels like, do not hesitate to apply for the next year of the competition. A call to participate in the competition will be published on the faculty’s website and Facebook page in the coming days.

JUDr. Milan Lipovský, Ph.D., for the 2020 Charles University Faculty of Law team