Harvard is the dream university for many students across the globe. The mere mention that you are a Harvard graduate comes with privileges. However, Kenya’s Strathmore law students have shown that geniuses can come from anywhere. The team of three students trumped Harvard Law School to win the John H. Jackson Moot Court on World Trade Organization (WTO) Law. In a congratulatory message, the Dean of Strathmore Law School tweeted,
“Strathmore met Harvard in the final of the 17th John H. Jackson Moot Court on WTO Law in Geneva. It was the 1st time an African team made it to the finals. Strathmore Law won the Moot! Congrats great team! Kenya!”
@StrathmoreLaw met @Harvard in the final of the 17th John H. Jackson Moot Court on WTO Law today in Geneva. It was the 1st time an African team made it to the finals. @StrathmoreLaw won the Moot! 🙏🏽 Congrats great team! Kenya! @StrathU @wto @JAHillmanGULaw @IALSnet @dailynation pic.twitter.com/yRI4L1YxB0
— Luis G Franceschi (@lgfranceschi) June 8, 2019
Consequently, the Strathmore law students are the first Africans to ever win the award. Prior to the Final Oral Round in Geneva, the team emerged from 20 other teams. The members of the team are Catherine Penda, Kandalla Maleehah, and Mishael Wambua. The final of completion was on June 1st, in Geneva, Switzerland.
The journey of Kenya’s Strathmore law students to Geneva
Now in its 17th edition, this year’s competition had 90 participating Law schools. However, it was the Strathmore law students that took the prize. The annual competition usually starts in September. Next, there is a regional competition across Africa, the Americas, Asia Pacific, and Europe. Consequently, the winners from the continents converge for a Final Oral Round.
During the contest, the participating teams create and analyze a fictive case on WTO law. Furthermore, the teams orally present their argument both as Respondent and Complainant to a panel. The panel usually consists of trade law and WTO experts.
The win by the Strathmore law students is coming on the heels of a Senate probe on the increasing failures by Kenya law students sitting for Bar examination. According to a Business Today report, there was a 53 percent failure rate from 2009 to 2016.
John H. Jackson Moot Court’s African Regional Rounds
Notwithstanding that the competition is 17 years old, Africa started participating in 2014. Consequently, there have been five regional rounds. South Africa was the host of the first four African Regional Rounds. However, for the first time, the fifth Regional Rounds held outside South Africa. It was Strathmore University, Nairobi, Kenya who was the host this time from 24th to 29th April 2018.
The Kenya School of Law’s (KSL) first shot at the competition was in 2016. In that same year, the KSL was the third overall in the continent. However, for the next two years (2017 and 2018) the KSL beat 20 African Teams to represent the continent on the global rounds. Perhaps, the win by the Strathmore law students is not for Kenya alone but a win for Africa.