December 08, 2016

ABA ROLI Supports Teams at the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Washington, D.C.

The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) is committed to bolstering young lawyers’ and students’ legal skills around the world. This year, ABA ROLI supported two teams from within the Europe and Eurasia region to take part in the International Jessup Moot Court Competition. In Russia, this is the third year that ABA ROLI has supported a team through its current State Department Bureau for International Narcotics and Law Enforcement. This year, ABA ROLI additionally supported a team from Ukraine from its own funds to ensure their participation.


The teams attended a reception honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with ABA ROLI’s 2016 Rule of Law Award at the United States Supreme Court.

This year, the Jessup National Competition in Russia celebrated its 15th year. In 2002, when the first national championship in the country was held, the event attracted 14 teams; by 2010, it grew to gather more than 50 from all over the country, becoming the largest national round in the world. As part of its support to the program, ABA ROLI provided support to bring three international judges of high caliber to Russia to judge the final round of the Russian Jessup Moot Court Competition, in Moscow from February 3-7, 2016. The winners of this final round traveled on to the international rounds in Washington, D.C.

The 2016 Jessup competition—now in its 57th year—attracts more than 550 universities from more than 80 jurisdictions, with each jurisdiction sending one team for each of the 10 universities that take part in the national qualifiers. It is hosted by the International Law Students Association (ILSA) in Washington, D.C., and requires teams to argue on an issue of public international law between two fictitious countries. The 2016 problem touches on electronic surveillance, admissibility of leaked documents in court, preventive detention and cyber-attacks. While participating teams submitted their written arguments on January 13, two members of each team presented oral arguments from March 27–April 2.

In addition to the two teams from E&E, ABA ROLI hosted a team from the West Bank. As part of the week’s opportunities for competition and networking, ABA ROLI invited the three teams it supported this year to a reception honoring Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg with ABA ROLI’s 2016 Rule of Law Award at the United States Supreme Court.

Russian team member Polina reflected on the experience she had being able to take part in the competition, sharing: “I will never forget the moment when you appear before the judges. Knees shaking, mouth dry, scared to even raise your eyes. But behind you is your team that worked days and nights on memorials and also your coach.... So you raise your eyes, make your best smile and say ‘Good afternoon, Your Excellences.’ Jessup is the greatest challenge that gives you so much from practical perspective: research skills, memo drafting, public speaking, time management and other skills and bonuses such as self-confidence for instance. But what is more important, Jessup literarily opens you [to] the world. I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet so many great people from various countries and understand that we all have much more in common than we think sometimes. Jessup is challenging, but so much fun. And as many judges say, Jessup is a huge multinational family and now I’m part of it.”

Yaroslava, one of the Ukrainian team members, expressed her gratitude for the experience once back in Ukraine, sharing: “The participation in the Jessup International Rounds was a very exciting and useful experience for me and my team. The topic of this year competition was very interesting and, thus, totally absorbed us. My team worked day and night researching and preparing our written and oral pleadings. That is why presenting the results of our work before and getting feedback of honorable judges from various countries was a thrilling moment for us. We are happy to become a part of the diverse world community of Jessup competitors who wish to cooperate for the rule of law implementation and better future of the mankind.”

Supporting legal skills development for law students by assisting teams to compete in the Jessup International Competition not only leaves students with refined skills, but has shown to leave them with a better community of colleagues from cultures and backgrounds from all over the world.

To learn more about our work in Ukraine, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.