June 11, 2019
Last week Saturday was the zenith of the 17thEdition of the John Jackson Moot Court Competition on WTO Law. The Competition, which is a simulated hearing of the WTO panel process, brought together 90 teams which competed in 5 regional rounds across the globe. 22 qualifying teams from the regional rounds battled it out in the Final Oral Round, which was held in Geneva between 4thand 8thJune. Representing Africa were: Strathmore University (Kenya), Kabarak University (Kenya), Kenyatta University (Kenya) and University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa).
Strathmore University emerged triumphant at the Competition, not only winning the African Regional Rounds but also the Final Oral Round. The team comprised three members: Mishael Wambua, Maleeha Khandwalla and Catherine Penda, supported by their coaches: Harrison Mbori, Christian Vidal and Njeri Mwathi. Strathmore's success was a win for the whole of Africa, being the first time an African team has made it to the advanced stages of the competition and won the overall competition.
Mishael Wambua was recognized as the best oralist in the quarter finals and the grand finals. The team members were awarded full scholarships to the World Trade Institute Summer/ Winter Programmes. In addition, Mishael Wambua was awarded a full scholarship to undertake a Master of Advanced Studies in International Law and Economics (MILE) at the World Trade Institute. Maleeha describes the win as surreal, which was a culmination of one year of intense preparations. Wambua attributes their win to God and their dedicated coaches, together with sacrifice the team had to make in their preparations. He says the most significant lessons he drew are teamwork, patience, humility and especially time management. Catherine sees trade law as a plausible career path, having properly understood the functioning of WTO law as a result of the Competition.
Christian Vidal, expressing his immense pride in the team, wraps it up as a dream come true before the actual result. According to Njeri Mwathi who participated in the 15th Edition of the Competition, this win is a wake-up call for teams and coaches wishing to participate in the future as it proves that African teams can represent the region meaningfully. Christian Vidal views this competition as an effective tool for capacity building for developing countries. Having engaged intensely with WTO law for almost one year, participating students have acquired substantive and practical knowledge in WTO law. It is hoped that governments in Africa will use this competition to build their internal capacity.