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Winner of Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition announced

19 July 2021

The winner of the first ‘Christof Heyns Memorial Commonwealth Prize’ was announced during the virtual 13th Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition.

The Competition, which ran from 2-16 July, was organised by the Centre for Human Rights based at the Faculty of Law of University of Pretoria, South Africa in partnership with the Washington College of Law of the American University, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the Commonwealth Secretariat.

This year’s overall winners of the competition as well as the Christof Heyns Memorial Commonwealth Prize were the two-member team from Strathmore University, Kenya, Sumatra Hussain and Sanjana Ragu. The Prize money will be used towards organising a fully sponsored internship for them at the Centre for Human Rights of the University of Pretoria, South Africa.

New partnership

Announced earlier in the month, Commonwealth Secretary-General Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC said: "We are proud to announce this award and mark the Secretariat's new partnership with the Centre for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. We strongly believe that young peoples' increased understanding of contemporary human rights issues and challenges will contribute to effective public policymaking, strengthening national institutions and capacity development of civil society and human rights defenders. Moot court competitions like this can play an essential role in that regard".

Through this partnership, the Commonwealth Secretariat aims to increase the number of universities from the Commonwealth that participate in the competition. This year, 10 out of the 23 countries participating are from the Commonwealth, representing 19 universities and other institutions.

Established in 2009 and named after former President Nelson Mandela, the moot court is open to university students worldwide. During the competition, participants submit written legal arguments for the two opposing sides in a fictional dispute involving a contemporary human rights issue.

Promoting human rights

The award is named after the late Professor Christof Heyns, a former Director of the Centre for Human Rights, in recognition of his service to the cause of human rights. During his career, he served as Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Pretoria, a Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Council, and a member of the UN Human Rights Committee.

In her opening address, Secretary-General Scotland emphasised that becoming a partner to this initiative highlights the Commonwealth's commitment to promoting human rights, the rule of law, democracy and good governance as set out in the Commonwealth Charter.

The Commonwealth Secretariat would like to extend it warm wishes and congratulations to the winners from Strathmore University, Kenya.

  • Watch the closing session on YouTube.