Students from Venezuela won the International Moot Court Competition at The Hague, Netherlands, on January 21-24, 2014. The team of secondary school students from U.E. Academia Washington of Caracas won the final round of the competition, held at the Peace Palace of The Hague and presided over by judges from the International Criminal Court and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The Center’s Civitas International Programs partner Civitas Venezuela conducts the moot court program in Venezuela. The Justice Resource Center of New York City, also a Civitas International Programs partner, organized the international competition.
Venezuela team members included Fabiana Castro, Cristina Vargas, Rebeca Martinez, Ricardo Mondolfi, Sofia Bittolo-Bon, Victoria Di Paolo, and Anna Christina Vivas. Teachers Ana Maria Applewhite and Stephanie Mitchell and lawyer Adriana Torres supported the team. An article in Analítica.com noted the students’ outstanding ability to organize, understand legal issues, structure coherent arguments, respond effectively to the judges, and be persuasive.
Eighteen teams from thirteen countries participated in the 2014 International Moot Court Competition. The teams represented Argentina, Bulgaria, China, Germany, The Hague, Mongolia, Moscow, New York City, Romania, Sweden, South Africa, St. Petersburg, and Venezuela. In addition to Venezuela, the South African team was selected for the final round of competition.
The case topic for the 2014 competition was “Blood Diamonds” and was written by attorneys from the United States and The Hague. Students prepared their arguments based upon the Rules of Procedure and Evidence adopted by the Assembly of States Parties for the International Criminal Court. Prior to the final round at the Peace Palace, teams participated in multiple-elimination rounds at Leiden University Law School.
The Justice Resource Center in partnership with the City Hall of The Hague developed the first international high school moot court competition in 2012. The International Moot Court is an outgrowth of the acclaimed MENTOR: Law Firm/School Partnership program. MENTOR, which was created in the 1980s by lawyers, pairs major law firms with New York City public high school students. The lawyers—partners and associates—help the students prepare for an appellate argument. Countless hours are spent analyzing and dissecting judicial opinions, strategizing, and honing oral advocacy skills. The International Moot Court was the next step. The competition provides high school students an exceptional opportunity to argue at The Hague, to develop in-depth knowledge of the International Criminal Court, to gain a heightened respect for international law, and to have an opportunity to exchange ideas with students from other countries. The student selection process varies from all-star teams to school teams with specific criteria for student selection, enabling students from various socioeconomic backgrounds to participate.
The Justice Resource Center is a public/private partnership established in 1991 whose mandate is to develop, implement, replicate, and evaluate law-related education projects that positively impact the school-age population in the United States. Programs are geared to a diverse school-age population representing greatly disparate ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic groups. The programs enable students to learn about the functions of government and their roles and responsibilities as citizens, as well as to develop a heightened respect for the law.
Civitas Venezuela develops and carries out civic education programs throughout Venezuela and works in a Civitas International Programs partnership with the Justice Resource Center to exchange best practices and conduct joint activities in civic and law-related education. In addition to moot court, Civitas Venezuela’s programs include adaptations of the Center for Civic Education’s Project Citizen and Foundations of Democracy programs and other programs.