Presented at the Guest Lecture delivered by Dr Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court for the Former Yugoslavia, at Riara University on Wednesday, 27 January 2016
All protocols observed.
My name is Ogbewekon Ruth Osaretin, fourth year Law student at Riara University.Many thanks for this opportunity to address such a learned audience and special thanks to all invited guests who took the time to be present here today.I have been called upon to share with you one of the most thrilling experience of my life: the ICC moot court competition 2015.It began in September 2014 when Mr Kibet, faculty in charge of mooting activities, sent out a notice calling for interested persons to register for the competition. Lots of students applied and after an internal test, five students were selected to represent the University at the competition: Margaret Muchoki, Suad Nur, Mercy Wangila, Anthony Njoroge and myself, all members of the pioneer class at Riara Law School.At that point, fresh from our second year of law school, we had no experience whatsoever in international law or practice, therefore we were wary of our chances of success in the competition, especially when we learned that we had to go through a preliminary round in order to qualify. Nevertheless, we were determined to go to the Hague in May 2015. This determination saw us scale through the preliminary round. We were to represent Kenya, along with the team from the Kenya School of Law, at the international rounds in the Hague.
Although it was summer, we arrived to a very cold Den Haag in May 2015 and with the help of the Kenyan embassy were able to navigate the foreign city, amidst shivers and frozen feet.The registration process awoke the nerves that we had buried. Seeing so many people, clearly with more experience than us, all competing on the same was overwhelming. The team was made up of three oralists, Margaret (defence), Anthony (victims) and myself (prosecution), and we would in the space of three days, each make oral submissions to two different panels; and out of 57 teams, only 9 would make it to the semifinals. As the moment to present drew closer, the pressure mounted to give the best performance that we could.Although we did not make it to the semi-finals, we consider ourselves winners in our own right as despite our disadvantage, we were one of the highest scoring oralists in the competition, a feat we achieved by teaching ourselves international criminal law, not to mention the unmeasurable amount of knowledge we acquired in preparing for the competition.It was amazing getting to live among the Dutch for a short while and learn firsthand of their love for bike (or bicycles). I got to make professional contacts that would be useful in the future. The team also had the opportunity to visit the ICTY with the help of Dr. Serge Brammertz who received us warmly. Additionally, I got to bond with my classmates. For example, Mercy. I also learnt of their habits like Margaret’s unhealthy love for shopping, Tony’s love for burgers and Suad’s distaste for museums.
A sobering knowledge was the lack of African participation in international competitions such as this. Out of the initial 59 teams, only four were from Africa. Two from Kenya (Riara and KSL), University of Gondar from Ethiopia and Makerere University from Uganda. And the reality is that this minimum African presence in the international level is everywhere. From the WTO to the ICJ etc. We need to go back and identify the problem so we can solve it.In conclusion, I want to thank Riara University for giving me (as well as the team) the opportunity. The law school faculty for the advice and coaching. The sponsors who ensured that we had the finances to make the trip a reality. It is my hope that we can encourage students not only in Riara (or Kenya), but across Africa to take up such an opportunity and run with it.