The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition


The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is the only global moot court competition explicitly dedicated to human rights. It is co-organised by the Centre for Human Rights, University of Pretoria, the Academy on Human Rights, Washington College of Law, American University, and the United Nations Human Rights Council Branch (HRCB), at the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

The Nelson Mandela Moot Court Competition is an annual event in which students from around the world come together in Geneva to argue a hypothetical human rights case.

Each year a new case is carefully developed, drawing on current global human rights issues – these range from human rights and artificial intelligence, over terrorism and mercenaries, to the right to not be discriminated against on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.

To participate in the Nelson Mandela World Moot Court Competition students can apply by submitting heads of argument for the hypothetical case, which are assessed by a panel of experts.  The best 10 teams from each UN region are then invited to participate in the pre-final, quarter-final, semi-final and final rounds of the Competition in Geneva, Switzerland. Once in Geneva, teams have to argue the two sides of the hypothetical case, representing, alternatively, both the Applicant and the Respondent before a ‘bench’ of human rights experts. The two best teams advance to the final round, which is presided over by judges from international courts and tribunals.

The Nelson Mandela Moot Court Competition is held in English, French and Spanish, and is open to both undergraduate and master's degree students, with each team consisting of two students.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the 13th Nelson Mandela World Moot Court Competition is taking place virtually from 3 to 16 July 2021.

Winners of the 11th Nelson Mandela Moot Court Competition, Gayathree and Ayushi, from the University of Oxford, UK. Well done! © Centre for Human Rights

Winners of the 10th Nelson Mandela Moot Court Competition: the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. © Centre for Human Rights

First Nelson Mandela Human Rights Lecture, in the framework of the 11th Nelson Mandela World Moot Court Competition © the Graduate Institute Geneva

Aspiring human rights lawyers are all winners in test case competition at UN © UN News

Opening Day of the 10th Nelson Moot Court Competition in Geneva © Centre for Human Rights