Afghanistan heads for major law competition in Washington D.C.

17 Mar 2009

Afghanistan heads for major law competition in Washington D.C.

BALKH - For the first time ever a group of law students from Balkh University in Mazar-i-Sharif will compete in the internationally prestigious Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition.

“Jessup has linked law students of the third world with modern systems; now I can see the difference between theories that I’d learnt with its current practice in the modern world,” said Rashid Jamal, a member of Afghanistan’s Jessup team and a 24 year-old law faculty graduate in Mazar-i-Sharif.

The six-member team has been built up under the initiative and personal financial assistance of the Head of the UNAMA office in Mazar-i-Sharif, Marguerite Roy.

A coach and international lawyer from the USA, Rachel Olander, has been lecturing the students and managing their upcoming trip to the USA.

USAID’s Rule of Law project has financed the trip to the United States for the competition.

The team has received donations from Germany’s GTZ and other private donors and is also hoping for assistance from the Balkh business community to cover further expenses.

Included in the group are two women, team member Tamana Noor and Rukhsara Baseq, the administrative and technical supporter to the team who also wants to participate in the competition next year.

“If an Afghan boy can attend this competition all the way to the US, why shouldn’t I? I am thankful to my parents who allow me do this,” said Tamana.

The Jessup Competition is the world’s largest moot court competition with participants from over 500 law schools in more than 80 countries.

The competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the International Court of Justice, the judicial organ of the United Nations.

The 2009 Shearman & Sterling International Rounds, marking the 50th Anniversary of the Jessup Competition, will be held 22-28 March 2009, in Washington D.C.

The Afghan students are not only the first to compete from Balkh, but they are also the first from the northern region to attend any overseas competition.

The only other Afghan university to participate at Jessup was Kabul University, which last competed in 2006.

This year’s debating problem also includes the border issue between Afghanistan and Pakistan adding a dimension of personal reality for the Afghan students rather than just an academic exercise.

Website: International Law Students Association (ILSA)

By Sayed Barez, UNAMA