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Human Rights Moot Court Held in Lebanon

A student presents her argument during the moot court workshop.

A student presents her argument during the moot court workshop.

September 2009         

During July and August, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) Lebanon office organized a mock Arab Regional Court of Human Rights, modeled after the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). The activity was supported by a mini-grant from ABA ROLI’s Access to Justice and Human Rights focal area.

Twelve final-year law students from Lebanon and Egypt took part in a July workshop, during which they received international human rights law and litigation training. On August 21, the students competed in the moot court hosted at Beirut Arab University (BAU). Students were assigned to act as either applicant or defense counsel for a fictitious defendant in the simulated proceeding, which involved alleged violations of freedom of expression and opinion and the right of access to information.

Each team of two students had 45 minutes to present their arguments, which were then scrutinized by a panel of judges including Dr. Omar Houri, director of BAU’s Human Rights Center; Judge Hatem Madi, deputy attorney-general of the Lebanese Supreme Court; Judge Marleine El Jorr of the Court of Appeals in Jdeideh; Dr. Nidal Jurdi of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Mr. Ayad Wakim, from An Nahar newspaper.

Preparations for the moot court and the competition itself taught the students to think and act like litigators, allowing them to identify and weigh facts; find, analyze and interpret the law; develop a structured, logical argument; prepare a clear and direct argument in writing; and adapt the written argument for persuasive oral presentation.  In view of the subject matter, this competition and the associated training also provided students with a hands-on introduction to the core concepts of international human rights law.