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Regular version of the site

HSE Law Faculty Team Going to Washington for the “Jessup”

The HSE Law Faculty team are finalists for the first time in the Russian stage of the Phillip C. Jessup International Law Competition which finished on February 3rd. The competition started in 1960 when it was between two teams at the Harvard Faculty of Law (on Cuban agricultural reform), since when it has travelled around the world. The competition acquired the name of the famous American international lawyer and judge at the International Court from 1961 to 1970, Phillip C. Jessup (1897-1986)

The Head of the Faculty of Law Department of Criminal Law at HSE, Gennadi Yessakov, talked about his team’s part in the competition

You were a judge for the Russian and Chinese stages of the Phillip Jessup Competition, can you tell us in more detail about the history of the competition and what it is all about?

This competition, which to give it its full title is calledThe Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition, was started by two Harvard Law professors – Professor Richard E. Baxter and Professor Steven M. Shwebel (who later became President of the Court at the International Court of Justice in the Hague). They had the idea of organising student competitions to test their knowledge of international law which would involve both speaking and writing. To this day the competition takes the same form – on the basis of a previously agreed hypothetical legal problem of an international nature, which has no straight forward solution, the teams of students prepare written so called “memorials” for both parties, for the Applicant state and for the Respondent state. Then, in front of three judges, like at the International Court of Justice, the team makes it case orally in a legal session, arguing with a team from another law school. It’s a very prestigious competition in law education.

Gennadi Yessakov
Gennadi Yessakov
How did the competition come to Russia?

It came in 2002 when the famous law firm “White and Case” (who to this day are the organisers and chief sponsors of the Russian stage of the competition) held the first Russian national stage with four teams taking part. Since then participation in the Russian stage had sky-rocketed with 50 teams in the competition this year.

What was the case that was argued this year?

This year the competition was about a number of complex international law problems. The case was a dispute betweentwo imaginary states – Alfurna (the Applicant) and Rutasiya (the Respondent). Alfurna, an island state, disappeared from the face of the earth because of climatic changes. An argument arose between the two sides about whether Alfurna still was an actual state (after the islands were flooded, its government managed to rent a piece of land in a neighbouring state) and about what would happen to its citizens and their bank accounts. 

Where will the final take place?

The international stage of the competition will be held in Washington in April. The HSE team is in fighting mood and training non-stop.

By Matvei Karmakov, 2nd year law student and intern at HSE’s news service portal

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