Reflections on the International Migration and Refugee Law Moot Court Competition

While sitting (significantly exhausted) in the train to back to Amsterdam, we look back to a very eventful, exciting, learning and fun experience in Gent. Participating in the Migration moot Court was not always an easy task, but definitely one that was worth all our efforts!

Inspired by the case law and topical issues we had studied in our courses, our group of four (female) Masters in Law students prepared intensively for this event for the past six months. Our team prepared written pleadings both in favour and against the petition of international protection of a fictional young Syrian, whose story is a fair resemblance to the current situation of asylum seekers in European states. Our high score landed us a place among another twelve universities around the world to attend the oral rounds in Belgium.

Once in Gent, the days passed by quickly as the program was full. Although still practicing in bed the night before our pleadings, the real nerves started when the moment of our pleadings before the Court came closer. This time the Court did not consist of our supportive coaches but instead of intimidating judges from South Africa, Kenya, Belgium and the UK. This may be our most exciting part of the whole experience: learning from real-life judges from the International Association of Refugee and Migration Judges. İn the end, expecting the worse was not necessary. We finished the day feeling proud of having had the courage and discipline to overcome our nerves and present our arguments in a convincing way.

The organized dinner was very nice with live Iranian music, and meeting all participants in the bar completed the first night. The next day we had the opportunity to receive some general and personal feedback from the judges, who congratulated our team and gave us their blessings to pursue a career as lawyers in future. We also attended panel discussions on unaccompanied minors. Very touching parts were the letter of the Ukrainian judge that was not able to attend, and the story of an inspiring Afghan refugee. Watching the finals was the obvious highlight of the event, the teams did not disappoint!

Overall, participating in this moot court was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, highly recommended for our fellow students interested in migration and refugee law.

Ana Luz Manzano Ortiz, Emma Waal, Indy Mooij and Paula Lozada