Runners up in the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, and a successful OECD complaint for the human rights of an asylum seeker.

Nelson Mandela runners-upAfter a hard-fought campaign, Macquarie Law School’s team were Runners Up in the Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition, after being narrowly defeated by Oxford University in the Grand Finals of the Competition. Macquarie University was represented by two LLB students, Nathan Ricardo and Nessa Salvador.

This Competition draws competitors from around the world to argue a hypothetical case dealing with pressing human rights issues, involving a written phase, from which the best teams are chosen for the oral phase held in the Palais des Nations, in Geneva, Switzerland. This year over 188 universities entered the competition, with 48 teams progressing to the rounds in Geneva. This year the competition saw the Macquarie team advocating in relation to a complex scenario which included disability rights, the use of AI in justice systems, and cyberattacks and the sharing of personal data.

The team progressed easily through the Preliminary Rounds defeating all competition, including Yale University, and progressed through the Quarter and Semi Finals with dominant performances. The only other Australian team to make it through to the rounds in Geneva was UNSW, who were knocked out in the Quarter Finals.

The student competitors impressed an illustrious bench of judges which included Judges from the ICC and the European Court of Human Rights, members of the International Law Commission, and Albie Sachs, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa, and close personal friend to Nelson Mandela. In a split decision, and with a very narrow margin, Oxford were declared the winners.

Professor Marc De Vos, Dean of Macquarie Law School, says, "This incredible result on the world stage is a testament to the calibre and fortitude of our competitors, and the value of the Macquarie Law School experience which prepared them for the competition.

"A special thanks to Shireen Daft and Sonya Willis for championing moot preparation at the law school. Macquarie Law School’s mission is to deliver highly skilled law graduates who aspire to be change makers of the future. We are incredibly proud of the efforts and talents of Nessa and Nathan, two shining examples of the Macquarie spirit!"

View this video of the Finalists.

Students help achieve the first successful OECD complaint for an asylum seeker

Macquarie Law students worked with the National Justice Project on a complaint to the Australian OECD contact point on behalf of an asylum seeker known as “Najma” who was raped on Nauru. Following her rape, her sensitive personal details were released to the media by a communications agency acting for the Nauruan Government.

The complaint was successful, and the OECD made the finding that Australian companies operating overseas should comply with the OECD’s Human Rights Principles.

Dr Daniel Ghezelbash, who worked with the students on the project, says, “This is a land-mark decision, being the first time that the Australian OECD contact point has found that a company has breached the human rights of an asylum seeker or refugee.

"It has ramifications far beyond Australia and our region, given the worrying trend around the world to outsource migration control to private companies. I am proud of the contribution Macquarie Law students made in researching and drafting the complaint. This is an example of the exciting opportunities created by the deep and ongoing relationship between the university and the National Justice Project."

Student Krishna Nand says, "Working on the OECD complaint against abuses to the rights of refugees was a big leap of faith. I was very fortunate to work on this project after my introductory subject as a first year undergraduate law student on Human Rights Law. My role was to gather explicit evidence on the abuse to "Najma".

"This was truly an eye-opening experience, as I got to see first hand the neglect and harsh treatment towards refugees, instead of just reading about it in the daily newspapers. As of writing this, I am now a final year law student. Since this project, I have worked in many non-profit organisations that aim to enable assistance to vulnerable members of our society. I hope to carry this on throughout my legal career in the near future."

Students at the awards ceremony