Children's Rights Moot Court
The bi-annual Children’s Rights Moot Court (CRM), organised by the Department of Child Law in partnership with Baker McKenzie, was initiated by Leiden Law School in 2014 on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Moot Court offers students the opportunity to engage with each other at an international moot court dealing with complex and highly topical children’s rights issues. The fifth edition is set for 2023.
The CRM is a biannual three-day international competition for law students with a keen interest in international children’s rights. Third-year bachelor's and/or master's students in law from all countries are eligible. The four previous editions of the CRM (in 2014, 2017, 2019 and 2021) attracted students from all over the world.
The CRM took place in Leiden, partly in historical venues such as the Old Leiden Observatory (Sterrewacht) or the council room of the townhall of the the Municipality of Leiden, or online (due to COVID-19 measures).
The CRM involves a fictitious case concerning a dispute between a State and a child/group of children. For each edition, Leiden Law School’s Department of Child Law assigns a duly qualified person to draft the case. The 2014 case, concerned the protection of children in contexts of conflict and under 'emergency' regimes. The 2017 case tested whether the participants were able to apply the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and related international standards in a complex case on the position of refugee children. The case of 2019 concerned the plight of a young boy who was exploited in the mining industry in a country plagued by corruption and a weak judicial system. The 2021 case concerned children trapped in camps in a war zone.
It is up to the participating teams to defend the two parties to the best of their abilities. Each student team has to represent the Applicant (i.e. child) and the Respondent (i.e. State) respectively, both in writing and through oral arguments. The dispute is brought before a fictitious legal organ, composed of fierce children's rights advocates. The bench of final judges always consists of a diverse panel of experts in the field such as H.E. Judge Janet M. Nosworthy, judge at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, Professor Ann Skelton, member of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, Hon. Lady Justice Joyce Aluoch, former vice-president of the International Criminal Court and Hon. Justice Muhammad Imman Ali, judge at the Supreme Court of Bangladesh.
Goal of the CRM
For various reasons this method of dispute resolution was selected for the CRM. Not only do individual complaints procedures offer children and groups of children a unique opportunity to have claims of children’s rights violations considered, but the procedures also offer NGOs an important avenue to pursue strategic objectives. States, on the other hand, may find themselves having to defend allegations of specific or systemic violations. For these reasons, a fictitious complaints procedure was selected as the clinical tool to train law students through two crucial phases of the complaints procedure: the writing of legal arguments (Memorials) for the Applicant and Respondent, and the pleading of oral argument based on these Memorials.
The goal of the CRM is therefore primarily educational. It provides participating teams with a challenging opportunity to train the skills they need to qualify themselves for a national/international legal career. In addition, it raises awareness among students (i.e. the future legal professionals) about the significance of international children’s rights and adds to their knowledge about this complex area of law; an area which intersects with other legal fields and relates to many societal challenges affecting children and their families across the globe. The words that are written and pleaded will be the result of teamwork, often a necessity in any legal career. The teams will be coached by legal experts of the Department of Child Law of Leiden Law School, passing on their skills and expertise to the participants. However, the CRM is also a social event. Participants will be able to build their network, as they will meet other participants from all over the world at social gatherings during the event. The video of the CRM 2014 provides a good idea of the competition.
Children’s Rights Moot Court 2014
At the 2014 competition, 15 student teams from 9 different countries pleaded ‘The case of AW vs. Landia', concerning the protection of children across jurisdictions, in contexts of conflict and under 'emergency' regimes. The competition was a successful three-day event, consisting of two days of preliminary rounds on 18 and 19 November 2014, which took place at the Sterrewacht in Leiden. The final round on Thursday 20 November was held at the Child Rights Home in Leiden.
The Law Society of Ireland won the final round of the very first edition of the CRM. The Finalist Team was Lincoln’s Inn. The award for the Best Applicant Team was won by the University of Pretoria. The award for the Best Respondent Team was presented to The Law Society of Ireland. Mr Barry Connolly, also from The Law Society of Ireland, won the Best Oralist Award. The Honorable Mention Award was presented to the University of Malta. To read more about the 2014 competition, see the short film.
Children's Rights Moot Court 2014
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Children’s Rights Moot Court 2017
From 28 to 31 March 2017, twelve student teams from different countries visited Leiden to participate in the second edition of the CRM. Students pleaded a challenging immigration law case. More than 75 children’s rights academics and professionals judged both written and oral skills. This year’s winner was the team from the University of Antwerp and runner up was the University of Pretoria. The two teams of Leiden Law School occupied the 3rd and 4th place. Please visit our website for more information about this year’s event.
Children’s Rights Moot Court 2019
From 3 to 5 April 2019, eight teams from across the globe prepared and pleaded the case concerning the exploitation of children in the mining industry. On 5 April 2019, the finals took place in the beautiful council room of the townhall, generously made available by the Municipality of Leiden. The team from Ateneo de Manila University (the Philippines) won the competition. This team was also praised with the award for Best Oral Pleading Applicant and Best Oral Pleading Respondent. One member of the team was individually praised with the Best Oralist Award.
The runner up that reached the finals was a team from Leiden University. The award for the best memorial for the respondent side was handed to the team of Benue State University (Nigeria). The best memorial for the applicant side was this year written by the second team from Leiden University participating in the competition. This team consisted of international students of the Master of Laws: Advanced Studies in International Children’s Rights (LLM). Read more about this competition in the news item on our website.
'To us, this moot court was such a valuable experience in many ways. Both in a personal as well as an academic way. We were able to train our pleading and writing skills. We got more familiar with researching different levels of legislation. We learned so much from the overall experience. We also really liked the case because it was so relevant to the actual problems this world is facing.
Inbetween, we had the opportunity to meet new and interesting people from all over the world. And above that, enjoy the beautiful city of Leiden! We would definitely like to visit this city again in the future. This experience was one that we will benefit from for the rest of our lives, and we will look back on it with a warm heart.'
'That we were the winners of the competition was a bonus, a boost for our careers and our self-confidence! But even if we wouldn't have made it to the finals, we would definitely do it again! And we would recommend everyone to try this challenge!'
'We would definitely recommend the children's rights moot court for all students who are eager to develop or enhance their skills in public speaking and legal writing in a challenging but fun experience.'
'The Children's Rights Moot Court truly was a great experience. It was an excellent class to develop our academic skills, to learn how to develop strong legal arguments and to gain confidence in public speaking. But above all, it was great fun - an experience that we will carry with us for a lifetime.'
Children’s Rights Moot Court 2021
The 2021 edition took place online from 7 to 16 June. Forty three teams from across the globe prepared and pleaded the case concerning children in camps in a war zone.
The winner of the Children’s Rights Moot Court Competition 2021 was Universidad de los Andes Colombia. The runner-up was West Bengal National University of Juridical Sciences.
Read more about the 2021 edition here.
The Children's Rights Moot Court 2023 concluded on the 28th of June 2023. See Students from South Africa win Children’s Rights Moot Court 2023
To make the CRM possible and to offer the opportunity to participate to as many students as possible from all over the world, we need renowned experts and students to remain involved. If you would like to stay connected and give your support to act as a judge, reviewer or coach in future editions, please don't hesitate to contact us.
The CRM is organised by Leiden Law School in partnership with Baker McKenzie.
For all questions relating to the CRM, please contact the moot court administrator: