This year I had a great privilege to serve as a judge at the International Rounds of the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition – the world’s largest moot court competition, with participants from over 550 law schools in more than 80 countries. The Competition is a simulation of a fictional dispute between countries before the UN International Court of Justice. The best teams worldwide qualify for the International Rounds, which are held yearly in Washington, DC.

In 2009 I was among such participants, representing Belarus at the International Rounds as a member of the team from the Belarusian State University. It was a great experience that allowed me to broaden my knowledge, practice real application of international law, acquire important skills, and meet the best international law students and professionals from around the world.

This time I was on the other side, which was a completely different but still rewarding experience. It is indeed inspiring when you see incredibly capable, intelligent, and skillful individuals pleading their case in front of you. No less outstanding were the benches of judges I was privileged to be part of – legal professionals from all over the world.

Coming from Belarus, I was impressed by the achievements of the team of Belarusians from the European Humanities University. The team advanced to the 1/8 finals and therefore became one of 16 best Jessup teams worldwide, while all three team members made it to the list of Top 100 Individual Oralists.

The Jessup final round was spectacular as always, and featured the current sitting judges of the International Court of Justice from Hague on the bench. The team from India beat the team from Singapore in an even game.

I still recall how I was inspired back in 2009 by the incredible performance and resilience of the Best Oralist award winner from the Colombian team. I still haven’t seen anyone plead better. I was happy to meet him once again (he was serving as a judge as well) and to learn that he now successfully has a senior position in the Colombian government. This and many other success stories of former participants show that these kinds of forums provide you with great opportunities for personal and professional development.

I believe that involvement in the Jessup Competition was a perfect contribution in terms of skills and opportunities to my CIPE-Atlas Corps Think Tank LINKS Fellowship. The multinational setting of the event helped to meet current and future professionals from all over the world and make new connections for future cooperation. Serving as a judge, I was exposed to different ways of addressing the case, presenting legal arguments and tackling intricate questions from the bench. Having reinforced my own legal reasoning skills, I look forward to effectively using them in my current and future research work.

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