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Moot Court: International Law Conference on the Rights of Indigenous People

In cooperation with the University of Cebu School of Law, the first International Moot Court on International Environmental Law took place on 13 and 14 September 2018, in which nine student groups from various Philippine universities participated.

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The Judges were from all over Asia - including China and Indonesia - as well as Germany. A "Moot Court" is a fictitious court hearing in which students slip into the role of legal representatives of the applicant or respondent. The Moot Court focused on the protection of indigenous peoples, international environmental law and the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.

The Moot Court event succeeded in sensitizing future generations of lawyers to the problems of environmental law challenges in Asia. This is of particular importance as environmental law as an integral part of international law is only taught at a few universities in Asia, despite the increasing number of large infrastructure projects in the region with adverse effects on the environment. The facts of the case, a mining project launched by two nations, were closely related to the actual situation in Asia. With regard to the extraction of such raw materials in Asia, it is sadly no exception that the impact on the environment is insufficiently assessed in advance and that indigenous peoples living in the affected area are not involved in the planning of such projects.

Against this background, the students looked at the legal grounds on which states can be held responsible for actions that damage the environment. More particularly, the participants looked at the limits to government action arising from the Rio and Stockholm Declarations of the United Nations. By applying abstract principles of international law to the specific case, they were able to identify connections between the protection of human rights and the protection of the environment. Based thereon, the participants had to develop their own arguments in preparation for the oral hearing and anticipate the counter-arguments of the other party. Thereby, the Moot Court enabled the participants to evaluate political processes and social changes from different perspectives and to critically question them.

Last but not least, the Moot Court also prepared the students for their professional practice. Through detailed feedback from the Moot Court judges after the first oral rounds, the participants were able to continuously improve their ability to present the facts of the case and the legal arguments in a structured and analytical way. As organizers, the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the University of Cebu School of Law are therefore all the more pleased that the participants rated the Moot Court as a very valuable experience. The Moot Court will therefore be repeated next year. In addition to Philippine universities, regional universities will also be invited to participate.

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Cebu, Philippines


Gisela Elsner

Gisela Elsner kas

Global Sustainability Policy Officer and KAS Advice and Complaints Officer +49 30 26996-3759

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