Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2022

Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2022

Uoc Team qualifies to the Advanced Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2022

Amaya Fernando, Daniella Perera, Mahin De Silva, Rushmi Wickramagamage and Sandun Batagoda representing the Faculty of Law, University of Colombo qualified for the Advanced Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition 2022.

The ‘Jessup’ is the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from over 600 law schools in 90 countries and jurisdictions. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations. Competitors are required to argue the dispute, applying International Law by making written and oral submissions before a panel of eminent Judges. The Competition emulates the practices of the Peace Palace. This year, the competition was held on a virtual platform.

The team proceeded to the International rounds of the competition after winning the National Rounds against the team representing the University of Jaffna. At the Preliminary stage of the International rounds, the team faced teams from South Korea, Japan, USA and Denmark. At the Advanced rounds, the team competed against teams from China, India, France and the Philippines. In addition to this feat, the team reached unprecedented heights in individual performances as Oralists. Daniella Perera was ranked the 2nd Best Oralist at the Preliminary Rounds, and the 19th Best Oralist at the Advanced Rounds of the competition. Sandun Batagoda was ranked the 7th Best Oralist, and Mahin De Silva was ranked the 42nd Best Oralist in the Preliminary stage of the International rounds. It is worth noting that the competition hosts over 600 teams, with at least 2-4 Oralists in each team.

All 5 members of the team are 4th year students. When their Jessup journey started in September 2021, the team had no prior experience at the competition beyond Daniella Perera’s experience with the Sri Lankan National Rounds in 2020. That year, the competition was called off due to the raging Covid-19 Pandemic. In their teammates, they saw a wealth of intellect and ambition, which, by their expectation could be channelled into performing well at the competition, at least fairing as well as previous teams from the University. However, the team could not have foreseen the challenges and impediments that lay ahead.

Weeks before the Oral rounds, the team, much like all of Sri Lanka was affected by daily, sustained power-cuts ranging. Due to this, practice sessions had to be conducted at times, in the dark, without a stable internet connection. To worsen matters, the economic crisis affected the team’s ability to travel to the University premises due to severe fuel shortages. Dates closest to the rounds endured 10-13 hour long power-cuts, severely affecting the team’s ability to conduct research and practice. Despite this, on the 30th of March, the team was informed that they were one of 94 teams which qualified for the Advanced rounds of the tournament. Having finished their first advanced round on the 31st of March, the team travelled home to the news that massive protests had erupted across the country. On the eve of the 2nd of April, 2 hours before their 3rd Advanced round, a State of Emergency was declared and Police Curfew was imposed; prohibiting travel to the University to conduct the round. The team was compelled to coordinate with law enforcement authorities to gain special permission to travel back home. The team was unable to travel to the University to participate in their final advanced round the next day and was compelled to make their submissions from their own homes individually. Although the team did not proceed beyond this stage of the competition, they carry with themselves the depth of knowledge, unique experience and a spirit of perseverance.

The team’s performance would not have been possible without Co-Coaches Shanil Wijesinghe and Thahira Cader who moulded a team of first-timers’ and extensively prepared the team with dedication and patience for 6 long months. The team was further assisted by Team advisors Sachintha Dias and Professor Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah. Their commitment, despite being otherwise engaged in full-time jobs themselves was unparalleled.

Many thanks to Tessa Walker, Executive Director of the International Law Students Association for personally coordinating with the team amid repeated concerns over Power cuts and Curfew. The team also wishes to thank Professor Antony Anghie, Professor Zachery Lampell, Dr. Katie Johnston, Dr. Sanjana Hattotuwa, Dr. Kalana Senaratne, Xuan Shao,Tavini Nanayakkara, Sanjayan Rajasingham, Minaal Wickremasinghe, Radheena de Alwis and Saranee Gunathilaka for taking time off their busy schedules to advise the team during sessions.

The team also extends its gratitude to Dean, Faculty of Law, Prof. (Dr.) Sampath Punchihewa and Dr. Darshana Sumanadasa without whom this feat would not have been possible. Ms. Hansa, the support staff of the Faculty and Vimukthi, whose invaluable support in assisting the logistics of the competition must be noted as well.