10th Public Affairs Operations Center
Ghasaq Alhusainy, a senior at Baghdad University College of Law answers questions with a local reporter before the Jessup Practice Moot Court at the U.S. Embassy. Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team organized this final practice round and has been coaching two Iraqi law student teams for the upcoming national moot court competition in Erbil. Photo by Spc. Gregory Argentieri
12.19.2010 Story by Spc. Gregory Argentieri BAGHDAD –Law school students from Baghdad University College of Law participated in a Jessup International Law practice Moot Court competition recently at the U.S. Embassy Baghdad, Iraq.
The Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team has been providing assistance to the Baghdad University law students and hosted this final formal practice moot to prepare them for the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court competition next week in Erbil.
The Jessup competition is the largest moot court competition in the world, now in its 52nd year. This is the first year that the Iraqi National rounds of the competition will be held inside the country, rather than in a neighboring country.
“The Baghdad PRT is involved because it is important to support the development of legal education in Iraq,” said Luke A. McLaurin, Department of Justice resident legal advisor for the Baghdad PRT. “One of the things that the moot court does is help students develop skills in presenting themselves to judges, developing arguments, speaking about the law concisely and articulately before a panel of judges.”
Students were honored by two distinguished Iraqi jurists taking part in the final practice moot, Judge Jaffar Muhsin and Chief Judge Saeed Al-hammash. Chief Judge Saeed, a graduate from Baghdad University College of Law, is best known for being one of the judges in the trial of Saddam Hussein.
Distinguished Chief Judge Saeed Al-hammash, on left, questions a Baghdad University College of Law student during her oral argument at the Jessup Practice Moot Court at the U.S. Embassy. Saeed, a graduate of Baghdad University College of Law, was happy to sit on the moot court and assist the future graduates at his alma mater. Photo by Spc. Gregory Argentieri
“We are in constant contact with the Embassy and PRT rule of law offices, they visit us all the time and we always learn from their advice and hope it materializes in bigger and faster benefits,” said Judge Jaffar Muhsin, a magistrate for 23 years. “I would like to see more of these exercises for the benefits of our students, so they can see what’s going on in the region.”
Each year the Jessup competition involves two fictional countries that have a series of legal disputes. This year’s problem raises issues about the legality of the use of predator drone strikes, issues concerning the laws of war, international humanitarian law, issues concerning the rights of cultural and religious minorities, and international anti-corruption law.
According to McLaurin, this year’s problem could not be better tailored for Iraqi law students.
“This Jessup competition helped me learn a lot about legal issues we don’t study in college because our methods are old fashioned and not updated,” said Ghasaq Alhusainy, a senior law student. “We are dealing with a new democracy, new legal issues, and cases, so by participating in this competition I had to learn a lot of international laws and I had to understand what they mean.”
McLaurin has worked with DePaul University and their International Human Rights Law Institute to set up the Jessup competition for all law schools in Iraq.
The Jessup competition involves a moot in front of the international court of justice. Teams from 19 different law colleges in Iraq have signed up to attend the event, ultimately competing with 500 law schools from over 80 different countries.
Law students from Baghdad University College of Law deliver oral arguments during the Jessup Practice Moot Court, at the U.S. Embassy. Baghdad Provincial Reconstruction Team organized this final practice round and has been coaching two Iraqi law student teams for the upcoming national moot court competition in Erbil. Photo by Spc. Gregory Argentieri
“In terms of developing long term capacity, you need to work with law students in law schools to enable them to have the skills that they need to have an effective criminal justice system,” said McLaurin. “But also to connect them to the international community, which is a long term strategic goal of the United States.”