Addis Ababa — Strathmore University's law students scored a first this weekend when they beat Harvard University's Law School team in the final round of the John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition on World Trade Organization (WTO) Law that was held Saturday in Geneva, Switzerland.
This is the first time that an African team has won the competition which features the best teams from Europe, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific regions.
The Strathmore Law School team, comprising two female students and one male, won the African Regional Round of the Competition, which was held in April 2019 in Nairobi, Kenya, paving the way for them to go to Geneva.
The Economic Commission for Africa's Africa Trade Policy Center (ATPC) financially supported the African regional round of the competition by sponsoring the participation of 20 university teams representing nine African countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.
ATPC Coordinator, Mr. David Luke, says the ECA supported the teams to boost Africa's trade negotiation skills.
Many African countries face major challenges in WTO trade negotiations and dispute settlements mainly due to lack of legal expertise in WTO law; constrained financial resources and sometimes in fear of political and economic pressure from other WTO member States exercising market power.
The continent also faces major challenges in utilizing international trade law to its advantage, not only in the context of the WTO but also at the bilateral and regional levels.
"We are elated that Kenya's Strathmore Law School team have won the 17th edition of the John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition. The competition this year was fierce and we know what they gained through this process will no doubt benefit Africa going forward," said Mr. Luke.
The ATPC Coordinator added; "The basis of mitigating the problems facing African nations in trade negotiations is to target tertiary education systems on the continent."
He said the achievement of the team is timely as it coincides with the entry into force of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the expected commencement of its operational phase on the 7th of July 2019 at the African Union Summit in Niamey, Niger.
The John H. Jackson Moot Court Competition, previously known as the ELSA Moot Court Competition, provides a unique opportunity for law students to gain experience in international litigation; improve their written and oral legal skills; and to meet students and trade professionals from around the world.
The global competition is organized by the European Law Students' Association (ELSA). The simulated proceeding is based on the dispute settlement system of the WTO. Teams prepare and analyze a fictive case, tackling key legal questions of international economic law in the fields of trade in goods and services.
They draft written submissions for the Complainant and the Respondent, followed by national and regional pleading rounds with the best teams qualifying to participate in the final oral round in Geneva in front of renowned WTO scholars and actual members of the WTO panels and the appellate body.