In 2020, Oxford once again took part in the Philip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition, the world’s largest and most prestigious public international law mooting competition. This year, the UK national rounds were held between 14-16 February at Lincoln’s Inn in London.

After preparing 20,000-word written submissions over the past 4 months, 16 teams from around the UK gathered to make oral submissions for two fictitious States before a simulated International Court of Justice. This year’s problem concerned a border conflict involving a lethal and fully autonomous weapons system, raising questions about the lawfulness of AI-controlled weapons under different regimes of international law. Beyond this topical subject, more traditional questions of State immunities, State succession to treaty obligations, and the permissibility of the International Court of Justice hearing actions that are pending before other international courts (the doctrine of lis pendens) were also considered.

After 3 eventful days of 7 90-minute long moots, the University of Oxford’s Jessup team is proud to have emerged as the runner-up of the UK round, thus marking the first time in several years that Oxford has qualified for the Jessup global round in Washington, DC (as the UK’s second seed). Unfortunately, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic meant that the global round was cancelled, but the Oxford team’s written submissions were scored and ranked as the 13th best memorial out of all teams eligible for the global round. The Faculty congratulates the team for its performance and success.

Oxford’s Jessup team for 2020 comprised Firdaus Mohandas and Emily Zhao (both of St. John’s College), Eden Smith (of Magdalen College), Vivian Leong (of Worcester College), and Alexander Yean (of Exeter College). The Faculty and the team would like to thank Mr. Harry Stratton (BCL 2019, Magdalen College) for his tireless support as coach and friend.