JIS News

Story Highlights

  • Final year Norman Manley Law School students Donia Fuller and Ralston Dickson walked away with the top prize at the finals of the 5th World Human Rights Moot Court Competition.
  • The students secured the coveted position for the fourth consecutive year.
  • Norman Manley’s continued success was as a result of the intensive preparation and practice sessions the teams undergo each year.

Final year Norman Manley Law School students Donia Fuller and Ralston Dickson celebrated World Human Rights Day in a fitting manner as the Jamaican duo walked away with the top prize at the finals of the 5th World Human Rights Moot Court Competition held at the University of Pretoria in South Africa on December 10.

The students continued the institution’s winning streak when they defeated Romania’s West University of Timisoara to secure the coveted position for the fourth consecutive year.

Second place went to the University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, which emerged from the preliminary round with the second highest score. However, the Argentineans were denied a position in the final round as a result of a policy of the competition, which prohibits two teams from the same region from competing against each other in the final. West University of Timisoara copped third place.

Speaking with JIS News, team coach, Nancy Anderson noted that Norman Manley’s continued success was as a result of the intensive preparation and practice sessions the teams undergo each year.

“The students put in a lot of hard work, they do a lot of research and a lot of time is spent discussing the case. So when they come here they just know it and you don’t get to know it unless you spend a lot of time reading,” she explained.

Ms. Fuller and Mr. Dickson also placed first and second respectively in the Best Oralist category, while the University of Buenos Aires was awarded best memorial for their written submission.

In addition the belief they had in their abilities, the duo also credited their success to their coaches including the assistance they received from senior coach and tutor, Dorcas White, as well as tips they received from former teams.

Commenting on the level of preparation, both team members pointed out that there were challenges they had to surmount leading up to and during the competition. “We had to dig deep…we had to do a lot of research in areas that we knew very little about. Some of the things were not foreign to us, however, issues such as the legality of certain weapons, certain persons not qualifying for asylum status and some socioeconomic rights issues were a novel spin on things that we were exposed to,” Ms. Fuller stated.

“There was also pressure between the two of us. We did not want to be the team that failed. Our school has been doing well and we wanted to continue the tradition. Knowing how much work we had put in, we also wanted to do right by ourselves,” she continued.

Expressing delight with the win, Mr. Dickson, pointed out, “we are indeed excited…it was not just about winning the competition it was about representing our region to the best of our ability and we felt an obligation to demonstrate that the legal education in the Caribbean is of a very high quality.”

In her summation, the competition’s chief judge, Justice Bess Nkabinde, who is also a judge in the Constitutional Court of South Africa praised the quality of the teams, which she said displayed an admirable level of professionalism and knowledge of the facts. She also noted that based on the performance of all the teams, it was clear that “the future of human rights and international law in general is very bright.”

The moot competition is organized annually by the Centre for Human Rights in the Faculty of Law at the University of Pretoria, in partnership with the Regional Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Southern Africa (ROSA).

Each year, universities from around the world are invited to submit a memorial or written submission based on a hypothetical case compiled by the organizers.

The hypothetical problem focuses on human rights issues and is based on the rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other applicable human rights instruments.

Each memorial is evaluated by a team of eminent human rights experts and the best 15 submissions are selected from the five United Nations regions, namely: Africa, Western Europe and Others, Eastern Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Caribbean, to attend the final rounds in South Africa.

The final round consists of two rounds of oral presentations where teams face off as applicants and respondents.