Five Chinese universities are in moot court competition

Updated: 2014-04-08 07:29

By Liu Chang in Washington (China Daily USA)

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Students from five Chinese university law schools are among about 600 law school students participating in the world's largest moot court competition being held in Washington.

Preliminary rounds got underway on Monday in the 2014 White & Case International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition at the Capital Hilton Hotel. Participants from more than 90 countries will compete against each other through Friday and meet in the championship round on Saturday.

The competition simulates a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

This year's moot court topic is on the conflict between maritime development and conservation, criminal jurisdiction and maritime salvage rights.

Forty Chinese universities took part in regional competitions and five universities advanced to the preliminary rounds in Washington. They are China Foreign Affairs University, Renmin University of China, the University of International Business and Economics, Wuhan University Law School and Xiamen University.

Lesley Benn, executive director of the International Law Students Association, said that the Chinese national rounds have grown considerably. "China has been a country that has more growth than anywhere else in the past five to 10 years. Chinese teams are very serious and competitive," she said.

On Monday, law students from the University of International Business and Economics faced the law students from the University of Cyprus.

Yongmin Bian, director of the international law department at the University of International Business and Economics, said that when rivals are American teams whose native language is English, she feels the pressure.

"Fortunately, nowadays Chinese college students' English proficiency has improved a lot," Bian said. "English speaking capability is a minimum requirement for participation."

Aristoteles Constantinides, assistant professor of international law and human rights at Cyrus University, said his team started to prepare for the competition last September. He listed key abilities a team in the competition needs to display, including excellent argumentation preparation, excellent command of English for non-native English speakers, flexibility to change the argument to adapt and experience.

The brainchild of professor Richard R. Baxter at Harvard Law School, the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition was created by Baxter and professor Stephen M. Schwebel, who later became president of the International Court of Justice.

The Jessup Competition is named after the Honorable Philip C. Jessup, who was a member of the International Court of Justice (1961-1970). Jessup earned a bachelor's degree from Hamilton College and his LLB from Yale University. He got a master's and PhD from Columbia University and later an LLD from Hamilton.

The first Jessup Competition was held at Harvard University on May 8, 1960, with only Harvard law students. Since then it has been held annually with participants from around the world.

Panelists judging the final round include Judge Julia Sebutinde, who was a judge of the Special Court for Sierra Leone from 2005 through 2011 and presiding judge of Trial Chamber II of the Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2007, 2008 and from 2010 to 2011; Judge Dalveer Bhandari, who was a judge in the higher Indian Judiciary for more than two decades and served as a senior judge in the Supreme Court of India; Professor M. Cherif Bassiouni, who is Emeritus Professor of Law at DePaul University and President Emeritus of the International Human Rights Law Institute.

The competition is sponsored by White & Case LLP International Law Firm and administered by the International Law Students Association, formerly as the Association of Student International Law Societies, which was reconstituted as the International Law Students Association and incorporated in May 1994.