Zimbabwe law schools battle Zambia in moot court finals
Sikhulekelani Moyo, [email protected]
A PUBLIC interest environmental law organization, Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is set to host moot court finals for Law Schools in Zimbabwe and Zambia on 2 and 3 August 2023 in Bulawayo.
In a statement, ZELA said moot court competitions are meant to prepare a new generation of public interest lawyers to argue cases and work with communities on matters relating to business and human rights.
The organisation said following preliminary rounds of selection which were conducted at the law school level, the best moot teams from the University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, Midlands State University, and the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University will be joined by contestants from Zambian Law Schools in a battle for the moot championship.
At the finals, contesting teams will be presented with a hypothetical case that will tackle issues relating to State obligations to protect human rights in the context of business, corporate responsibility on human rights, and access to remedy, focusing on such aspects as standing, jurisdiction, and relief being sought among others.
“The rationale of this competition is that there is a growing need for public interest lawyers who are able to work with communities to safeguard their rights in both the traditional and transitional mining sectors,” said ZELA responsible investments and business programme lead, Ms Josephine Chiname.
“Public interest lawyers have a big role to play in promoting environmental and socio-economic justice, especially against the excess power of the state and corporates within Africa’s mining sector.
“For example, host mining communities contribute little to environmental degradation, yet they suffer disproportionate burdens and impacts. Again, due to systematic injustices, they are marginalised and are the least able to mobilise against the violations and lack of accountability that often characterise the situation of environmental, socio-economic injustices occasioned by mining activities.”
ZELA said the organisation is using moot courts as part of its work in promoting responsible business and investments within the mining and energy sectors in Zimbabwe because the exploitation of mineral resources in Zimbabwe has so far failed to materialise into tangible benefits for local resource-rich communities.
“Instead, mining communities are constantly fighting for the protection of their environment and health against harmful impacts caused by the activities of powerful mining corporations. Thus, the need for public interest lawyers.
“As such, the moot court is expected to build the capacity of upcoming lawyers on research and argumentation on business and human rights issues in Zimbabwe, bring out issues that can influence more learning and research on the area, and create an opportunity for students to work closely with the experts in business and human rights,” they said.