LLM students represented in a Moot Court on environmental rights
«Opportunities such as this represent a very valuable academic adventure,» says one student after participating at a Moot Court at the IUCN’s second World Environmental Law Congress.
Camille Zuber's and Robert Coll's moot question concerned state's obligations under international law to protect forests. Here from a forest in Singapore. Photo: Camille Zuber
«We would like to strongly recommend and encourage students to participate in forthcoming events of this nature. Opportunities such as this represent a very valuable academic adventure, in addition to offering a hands-on approach to applying what we learn in classrooms in practice,» says Camille Zuber, an LLM student in Maritime Law at the University of Oslo (UiO).
Earlier this year, Zuber together with Roberto Coll, an LLM student in Public International Law at the UiO, were invited by the Law Faculty to represent the UiO in a Moot Court within the IUCN, International Union for Conservation of Nature's second World Environmental Law Congress, which was scheduled to take place in March 2020 in Rio de Janeiro. PluriCourts offered to fund the participation at the Congress in Rio.
States’ obligations under international law to protect forests
Zuber's and Coll’s mooting question was: What obligations do States have under international law to protect forests under their national jurisdiction, as a response to climate change and for the benefit of present and future generations? The team decided to plead on behalf of UNICEF and on behalf of children in general in light of the climate crisis.
«It was a wonderful opportunity. We had the chance to work with Dr. Christina Voigt on the drafting of our memorandum, which we then submitted for peer-review. This was a great learning experience which helped us develop our legal writing skills and our legal research,» says Roberto Coll.
Participation included legal experts, students and judges from such diverse locations as Australia, Barbados, Brazil, France, Guam, Hawaii, Kenya, New Zealand, Norway and the Philippines.
«It is not often that students get the chance to discuss and compare positions about the same topic with people from all corners of the globe,» says Coll.
Presentation in front of two Supreme Court judges
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the main event was rescheduled and the Moot took place as an online session on 1 December 2020. There they had the opportunity to test the team’s legal arguments and present their oral pleading in front of two Supreme Court judges: HE Michael Wilson and HE Millicent Odeny.
«Discussing the environmental crisis, ecocide, the balance between economic prosperity and the protection of biodiversity with them was illuminating. The comments made by Judge Michael Wilson on our entitlement as the next generation of lawyers to plead, work, and fight for our right to a clean and safe environment were truly inspiring. Their Excellencies, along with the whole Moot team, were more than welcoming and kind, making us feel at ease throughout the whole process,» says Zuber.
«We wish we could do it all over again»
If the pandemic situation and appropriate sanitary measures make it possible, the students hope to be able to present their work at the IUCN Biodiversity Congress, which was originally planned to take place in January 2021 in Marseille, and at the Rio IUCN Environmental Law Congress in Rio de Janeiro, also postponed due to the coronavirus.
«We are very thankful for this opportunity, and wish we could do it all over again. It was one of the best academic experiences we have ever had and wish to express our gratitude towards Dr. Voigt, PluriCourts, and the University of Oslo for supporting us during the Moot in such exceptional circumstances,» says Coll.