It is fair for me to say that Jessup 2013 and Jessup 2014 together formed one of the most rewarding educational experiences in my life, during which I have had the opportunity to interact with learned judges and to collaborate with my excellent teammates.
My experience from two respective years of competition slightly differed, due to my knowledge of general international law, application of precedents, and research abilities.
Last year when I started my participation in the Jessup Moot Court Competition for the first time, I knew essentially nothing about international law. Therefore through the training, I had to additionally enhance my knowledge on general international law. Fortunately, the first and fourth submissions of 2013, for which I was responsible, required me to read more about the VCLT, the Statute of the ICJ, and other topics of general international law, whereby it became easier for me to prepare for Jessup 2014.
With the experience from last year, I constantly reminded myself of the importance of comparing precedents with the present case, and subsequently indicating the similarities or distinguishing the facts, either during the drafting of memorials or the preparation of oral pleadings. This does not mean that I took the ICJ as an Anglo-American court, but this was how I became more confident when I answered judges’ questions about why the court should adopt the rules or interpretation set down by past decisions.
I remember my researches last year, when I, in the beginning, only knowing how to use the “natural language” method on Westlaw, often helplessly sat vis-à-vis no results or ten thousand results. This year, having been able to make better use of Westlaw and other databases, I could spend more time on digesting and organizing the data acquired so as to present them comprehensibly. In general terms, much time of my training process this year was devoted to putting arguments in proper orders and finding alternative arguments, while last year I spent much time on general international law and trying different methods to research.
Be it Jessup 2013 or 2014, I have always kept two notions in mind. First, one cannot be prepared. The intriguing broadness of international law simply does not allow one to claim utter knowledge thereof, and before the oral rounds, it is not uncommon, at least for me, to imagine my incapability of answering the judges’ questions. This notion keeps me humble, and motivates me to conduct more research. Second, I always believed that I was not debating, but conversing with judges, who have no motive to embarrass oralists. Such belief, to some extent, transferred my nervousness into expectation to commence an educating interaction.
This competition provided me with the rare opportunity to acquire knowledge and experiences which I will never forget. I express my gratitude for all who have contributed to making this event possible and rewarding, and hope that my abovementioned shared experiences will be helpful for future participants.