UP Moot Society excel at the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition

Posted on August 12, 2022

The University of Pretoria (UP) Moot Society team in the faculty of law recently participated in the advanced rounds of the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition and performed excellently. The team consisting of oralists Ruvarashe Hwengwere (third-year LLB) and Jade Werner (third-year LLB) as well as researcher Nyasha Jawa (second-year BA Law) went up against 13 other teams from across the globe in the advanced rounds held at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. They won the runner up for best memorials and placed 3rd in the online preliminary rounds out of 38 teams. 

In the advanced round in Geneva, Ruvarashe and Jade scored an average of 83%. Despite going up against teams that consisted of postgraduate students, they fared extremely well. Although the team did not proceed to the quarter finals, advancing to the top 16 and competing at the United Nations is a phenomenal achievement.

From ltr: Nyasha Jawa, Ruvarashe Hwengwere, Jade Werner, Tayla Cox.

Their coach Tayla Cox (third-year LLB) said: “As a coach, I could not be prouder of their excellent achievements in the previous rounds as well as being selected as part of the top 16 teams to go to Geneva to compete at the United Nations. The team has worked on this case dealing with unilateral sanctions, abortion rights, and refugee rights since December 2021 and to have made it this far in this rounds as the first team from UP to participate in the competition is a phenomenal achievement. We have made important connections with the other participants from around the world in places as far as Singapore, Australia, Argentina and Turkey.”


“We were also privileged enough to meet and spend valuable time with members of the United Nations including secretariat members like Ivan Vosloo (Counsellor for Human Rights at the South African Permanent mission in Geneva and UP Alumnae), Jan Lönn (Secretary General for International Youth and Student Movements for the UN) and the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, Nada Al-Nashif,” she said.


“We were surrounded by UP alumni and current staff members like Professor Tladi, Dr Thompson Chengeta and also saw the Dean Professor Schoeman in Geneva. It was a most valuable experience and many important connections were made,” she said.


Jade said: “The Nelson Mandela Moot Competition was one of the most rewarding and challenging experiences of my life. The hypothetical case we were tasked with arguing was deeply complex and contained prevalent issues.”

“Conducting research on the relevant issues broadened my knowledge of international human rights law, state liability and appropriate remedies. Overall, the experience allowed me to meet incredible professionals, young legal thinkers and make many friends along the way. I truly enjoyed this experience, and would not trade the hard work we went through for anything,” she said.


From ltr: Jade Werner, Tayla Cox and Ruvarashe Hwengwere.


Ruvarashe said that the competition challenged her: “This competition challenged my time management skills as I worked on it whilst trying to maintain a decent grade average. It challenged my ability to sit through hours of constructive criticism with the hope that there's better on the other side. It, most importantly, challenged the way I view human rights adjudication. We know that not many things are ever black and white. That thought waivers though when faced with human rights crises. We choose black and white because it's more comforting than murky grey. Nelson Mandela showed me that although it may be comforting, it’s hardly helpful. Human rights issue demand that we wade through the murky in an attempt to ensure basic human dignity.”


Researcher Nysaha, who unfortunately could not join the team in Geneva said his experience “to learn about international human rights law and participate at a competitive level with as good as a team as we got to develop made participating in the Nelson Mandela Moot in any capacity quite fulfilling. With the time and effort dedicated into it I'm really proud of what the team has accomplished in the competition.”

The team was also able to explore the United Nations buildings while in Geneva, visiting rooms where some of the most important decisions are made and were able to sit in the chairs of those important decision makers to listen to lectures about Nelson Mandela, climate change and religion in the human rights sphere. 

The team thanks the Deans Office as well as the Vice Chancellor for their support and is so grateful for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

- Author Tayla Cox
Published by Palesa Mbonde

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