Zimbabwe: ‘Mooting’ Allows Students to Sharpen Advocacy Skills

In Harare, RWI collaborated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to host the National International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Moot Court Competition. This is a recurring competition which aims to give students the opportunity to not only study human rights and international humanitarian law but also to improve their legal drafting and advocacy skills.

For four days, future lawyers representing four partner universities in Zimbabwe – Midlands State University, the Great Zimbabwe University, the University of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University – competed for a place in the finals.

The final round was held at the High Court of Zimbabwe, in Harare. High Court of Zimbabwe Judge President, Justice Mary Zimba-Dube, presided over the final round of the competition.

The proud winners were Midlands State University who represented Zimbabwe at the regional competitions in Arusha, Tanzania.

We spoke with Leonie; a student of the winning team from Midlands State University about her experience, participating in and winning the National Humanitarian Law Moot Court. This was not Leonie’s first mooting experience. She started in December 2021, participating and winning a corruption and human rights moot funded by Transparency International Zimbabwe and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute. Her experiences were extremely positive, enabling her to gain further knowledge on international law including international humanitarian law, international human rights law  and international criminal law.

– Even though I had taken classes on these areas of laws before, I noticed that when you prepare for competition, you really have to cover everything which means you read and research widely.’

Furthermore, participating in those competitions led her to improve her research skills:

– Because you have a limited amount of time, you really have to know how to research just to get the relevant information, and that has helped me lot even in my academics, I can research well in a short space of time’.

The format of the moot court competition also allowed her to sharpen her advocacy skills:

– In the regional round we were only given one hour thirty minutes to reads the facts. After reading the facts you distribute the parts among the teammates and go up to present… I noticed that by the fourth round I was actually very good at it.’

These skills are not only relevant in the presentation part of the competition but also when answering the questions of the judges and panel:

– I had to lean to think on my feet because these judges will ask a lot of questions. You have to apply the relevant law to the facts of the case and be able to give them a correct answer.’

She describes the skills she has developed individually during the moot court competition as being very directly applicable to her studies:

– Mooting has helped me in school in terms of interviews, presentations but also general conversations and exams because in exam situations you have to think fast’.

Mooting is however a team effort:

– I also learnt how to work with people. I had a team of four people. We had to work together in terms of presentations, we had to allocate times and you have to make sure that it is a balanced. You also have to help your teammates if they don’t know something and even if you are not very good at it. So it has helped a lot in terms of working with people’.

Overall mooting, and especially National International Humanitarian Law (IHL) Moot Court Competition, was a great experience for Leonie.

– It enable me to develop key skills for my academia and future career but also myinterest in international law and international humanitarian law.  I learned a lot from it. And I really also developed my passion for international humanitarian law. I am very grateful for the opportunity that was offered to us and to the RWI and ICRC for their involvement in the organisation of the competition. I think it is a very beneficial event for law students.

The National International Humanitarian Law Moot Court Competition is part of the Zimbabwe Human Rights Capacity Development Programme supported by Sida.


Read more about Mooting

Moot Competitions: “I have done them all!”

Zimbabwe: Improving Legal Drafting and Argumentative Skills

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