[BREAKING]: The African Team From UNICAL Emerges As Semi-Finalists in The 2023 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition


The University of Calabar (UNICAL) has achieved a remarkable feat by emerging as the African Champions in the 2023 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition (MLMC) and competing at the World finals of the competition which was held at the prestigious Baku Convention (BCC) and Heydar Aliyev Center (HAC), Baku on the 5th day of October, 2023.

This prestigious competition, hosted by the International Institute of Space Law (IISL), occurred within the margins of the 74th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) held in Baku, Azerbaijan.

The International Astronautical Congress (IAC) is an annual meeting of global space actors hosted by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF) with the support of the International Academy of Astronautics (IAA) and the International Institute of Space Law (IISL). The event offers everyone the latest space information and developments in academia and industry, networking opportunities, contacts, and potential partnerships and sessions covering all space sectors and topics. The Congress attracted more than 5,000 participants.

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The Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition (MLMC) is recognised as one of the most esteemed moot court competitions in space law. It is named after H.E. Manfred Lachs, a former judge and President of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). It provides students with a unique opportunity to engage with public international law and the laws of outer space.

Furthermore, participating in the MLMC offers students invaluable knowledge, experience, exposure to a professional network of international lawyers, and improved advocacy skills.

Teams from various regions across the globe participate in regional rounds of the Competition. The winners from each region (Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, North America, and Latin America) then compete in the World Finals, which are in conjunction with the annual International Astronautical Congress.

For this year, seventy-seven (77) teams from Universities and regions worldwide participated in the various knock-out stages of the competition, arguing a case related to laser activities and the use of anti-satellite weapons in outer space.

In a remarkable display of legal prowess, Team UNICAL competing against 17 other African Universities in the regional rounds, won the African Regional Finals, surpassing the University of Pretoria, South Africa and 16 other African Universities. This achievement earned them the title of African Regional Champions, placing them alongside champions from Latin America, Asia, Northern America, and Europe.
Team UNICAL advanced to the Quarter Finals of the competition, where they went up against the Latin American Regional Champions of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) (National Autonomous University of Mexico), the largest university in Latin America. Together, they displayed exceptional legal acumen and defeated their Latin American counterparts, securing their place in the semi-final stage.

At the semi-finals, they engaged in rigorous legal arguments on international law and politics against the Asian Regional Champions from the China University of Political Science and Law. The Asian team emerged as the winners of the competition.

The climax of the MLMC (the World Final Round) took place on October 5, 2023, at the Supreme Court of Azerbaijan. The competition was judged by three sitting judges of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Although Team UNICAL did not secure the top spot in the World Finals this year, there were among the top 4 teams who made it to the semi-final stage of the World Finals out of 77 teams. For this, they received the esteemed title of SEMI-FINALIST in the 2023 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition. They were also honoured with the Best Memorials for the Africa Rounds.

This achievement reflects UNICAL’s commitment to excellence in legal education and dedication to nurturing outstanding legal talent. It also highlights the University’s global position as a formidable contender in space law and international legal competitions.

The winning team from UNICAL comprised three exceptional students – Felix-Uche Richard Chikeziri, Akpoiroro Victory Oghenekparobor and Musa Omma-Agbon Zaiki. Their dedication and expertise were instrumental in Team Africa’s (UNICAL) success in this highly competitive arena.

The African team extends its heartfelt appreciation to their dedicated coaches and esteemed staff advisers, Ms. Anne Agi and Mr. Owoche Antai, for their exceptional guidance and unwavering support throughout this challenging journey.

Furthermore, the team expresses its sincere gratitude to the Dean of the Faculty of Law, Associate Prof. Rose Ohiama Ugbe, and all the esteemed lecturers of the Faculty for their invaluable contributions and encouragement throughout this remarkable endeavor. Their commitment to nurturing talent and fostering excellence has been instrumental in the team’s success.

The African team would like to extend their deep appreciation to the esteemed Vice Chancellor of the University of Calabar, Professor Florence Banku Obi, for her exemplary leadership and support throughout this remarkable journey. Professor Obi’s unwavering commitment to fostering academic excellence and providing opportunities for students has been instrumental in the team’s success. Her dedication to the advancement of education and the promotion of student achievements is truly commendable, and the team is grateful for her encouragement and guidance.

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