Friday, March 13, 2015

Competing in the Chinese National Round of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition

Over the spring festival break last month, several HNC students participated in the Chinese National Round of the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.  Read on below for student Nanfei Yan's description of the experience:

Hello All,
Members of the HNC Jessup Team

Starting October of last year, the HNC Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition team had been hard at work, preparing for the Chinese Qualifying Rounds. The competition was held at Renmin University in Beijing, from February 3rd to the 6th. Our team placed 6th out of the 42 participating schools. Two of our members, Forrest Cranmer and Eliot Kim, received the Best Oralist award. On behalf of the school, I extend our congratulations to a group of talented and hard-working mooters.

What was the competition like? First, we arrived at our hotel in the Haidian District of Beijing a few days early in order to get back into the law mindset and prepare for the oral rounds. During the day, we held practice sessions (often via video chat) with Jessup alumni at the nearby café. (It’s not every day where you hear “Article 2(7) of the UN Charter” and “according to Gabčíkovo-Nagymaros” at Costa Coffee.) In the evenings, we explored the eclectic city of Beijing.

Preparing at Costa Coffee
Since its inception at Renmin University 13 years ago, Jessup China has been held here at least every other year. This year, we had the special honor of the attendance of Lesley Benn (Executive Director of ILSA, the organization behind Jessup). She took the initiative to get to know the HNC team and even sat in on our preliminary and quarterfinal rounds. Despite how nerve-wracking it was to stand behind a podium facing formidable legal scholars, her background as a former competitor and coach made us feel more at ease.

One of the most impressive aspects of China’s Jessup competition is the fluency with which Chinese law students articulate international law. The thousands of pages of English (and sometimes French) legal research that is required of Jessup is difficult for even native speakers. During the Shanghai Jessup training session, a former Beijing University mooter sternly told all the Chinese teams that they cannot let language get in the way. As international students, it’s easy for us to hide behind the excuse of having language or cultural barriers. Jessup China is a testament to the excellence that students can achieve when they overcome that barrier.

Ultimately, the Jessup competition serves as a dialog between teachers of law and students of law. Everyone involved is advocating not so much for the two sides of a fictional dispute, but for the principles of law and the rule of law. There were several judges who worked in developing countries. One was setting up the first law school in Cambodia and another was a justice from the Philippines. They explained the importance of rule of law in such societies, and the potential for the positive influence of law.

HNC student Eliot Kim received the Best Oralist Award
The field of international relations is complex and multi-disciplinary. Even though very few of us will go on to practice international law professionally, Jessup has taught us the indispensable skill of advocacy. It was an honor to compete alongside my fellow teammates and all the participating schools of Jessup China.