Under the guidance of the team coach, Ajarn Phattarapong Saengkrai, students of the International LL.B. program at Thammasat University, Pimvipa Kunanusorn and Pundaree Tanapathong, represented Thailand in the 8th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition in Geneva, Switzerland, from 18th to 20th July, 2016.
Organized by the Centre for Human Rights based in the University of Pretoria and with the support of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, the competition was held in Palais des Nations, headquarters of the United Nations.
Qualifying as one of the 25 teams representing each of the five UN Regions based on the submission of their written memorials for the applicant and the respondent, the Thammasat team acted as oral advocates of both parties in a total of 4 matches over a span of 2 days against: University of Buenos Aires (Argentina), Gujarat National Law University (India), Renmin Law School (China), and Kisii University Law School (Kenya), pleading before a bench of judges from a variety of renowned international organizations and institutions including: the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Amnesty International, and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights.
This year’s moot problem covered a wide range of current procedural and substantive human rights issues including: the standing of deregistered NGOs in international human rights courts, the requirement of the exhaustion of local remedies, the right to education and freedom of expression of students in a university which bears a supposedly oppressive seal, the enactment and application of laws which restrict the exercise of the rights to freedom of association and expression of NGOs under the looming threat of terrorism financing and money laundering, the right to privacy and non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, the right to life of possibly pregnant women who have been sentenced to the death penalty, and State responsibility through acquiescence for enforced disappearances and torture.
The rigorous research and intense preparations undergone by the team in the three months leading up to the competition not only helped develop skills such as critical thinking and public advocacy, which are essential in a legal career, but also fostered a deep appreciation for the promotion and protection of human rights. While they bid farewell to the competition, it is without a doubt that these lessons learned will last for a lifetime.