In 2018 the team from the Belarusian State University won the European Rounds of the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court. The team consisted of Darya Bohdan and Alena Laurenava, and was coached by Faculty Advisor Prof. Ekaterina Kouznetsova and Assistant Advisor Tatsiana Ziniakova. After being crowned European Champions, the team advanced to the World Rounds which were organised in conjunction with the International Astronautical Congress in Bremen. The team impressed the judges yet again, and was awarded the Eilene M. Galloway Award for Best Memorials of the World Rounds. We asked Darya and Alena to tell us about their experience, and hope their achievements and story can inspire others to take part next year.
(Darya and Alena) Now that our incredible year-long space journey has come to an end, it is time for our memories to be shared and words of gratitude to be said. The space law odyssey of ours has been a one-in-a-lifetime experience for every team member and we all could not have asked for a better “crew” on that journey.
The team of Faculty of International Relations of Belarusian State University is the first Belarusian team to ever participate in the Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition and we are extremely proud to have such a successful debut.
In September 2017 the decision to conquer the space was made and our hard, challenging and thorny path started. Since then we have been researching the most acute issues of space law: outer space security, resource mining on celestial bodies, possibility of Mars terraforming, extension of space law rules to cyber operations of states and, of course "down-to-Earth-issues" such as liability for inflicted damage.
The experience of preparing for the moot court has been really immersive. Being on the moot court team for us meant integrating the subjects of research into our day-to-day life – going through arguments in your head when commuting to the university or bursting with excitement and texting your fellow team members at night when a really great argument pops up in your head. Each day of this past year has been connected with research of incredible amounts of information; brainstorming new ideas, generating unconventional arguments, endlessly sharpening oral presentation skills. It has been a true lifestyle change and, possibly, the best we could do as future international lawyers for our professional development. The process of preparation for the Competition gave us the possibility to gain invaluable experience connected with the composition of written argumentation and its oral presentation in front of a judges’ bench.
After intense preparation process we were ready to take our first serious steps in international space law field at the European rounds held in Lisbon, Portugal in May 2018. As regional organizer, the ECSL did a really brilliant job professionally organizing every little detail, so that participants could fully concentrate on the matters of the Competition. We are especially grateful for the atmosphere created during European rounds – despite being newbies at the Competition we felt part of a big, warm, international space law family and that feeling was as precious (or even more precious) than the Competition awards.
Both the preliminary and final games of the European rounds were organized at an exceptionally high level. The most exciting moment for us was entering the first court room and finding out the names of our judges. It was a great honor to be judged by the most prominent specialists of international space law, whose teachings we had been scrutinizing during our preparations. After pleading in two preliminary rounds, we advanced to the Semi-Final and then to the Final. The moment when the judges name your team’s number and tell you that you are the advancing team is when you realize that the energy, passion and sleepless nights put into the Competition have paid off and that moment is priceless. Approaching the judges and breaking the solemn court room silence with a “may it please the court” opening is also when you sense the actual magic of the Competition. Being crowned European Champions we were extremely proud to represent Europe in World Finals and very thankful for the words of support we received from other European teams.
As European Champions, we continued our space-journey to the World Finals in Bremen that were held within the framework of the International Astronautical Congress 2018. Our team is very grateful to the ECSL for sponsoring our trip and for the unique opportunity to be part of such an amazing event as IAC 2018 during which we attended plenty of interesting sessions and discovered great networking opportunities.
In the World Finals our team was honored to receive Eilene M. Galloway Award for Best Memorials, which definitely became the reward for all ups and downs we experienced during our thorny path to that day. Hearing “Congratulations!” from three Judges of the International Court of Justice – isn’t it a dream of any young international lawyer? All in all, the time in Bremen has given us an unforgettable feeling of being part of great international space law family.
Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition is a challenge definitely worth doing. Having once experienced what space law is you most certainly won’t be able to give it up.
Details about when and where the European Rounds will take place next year, and the registration process for the 2019 competition will be announced next month, so keep an eye on the ECSL website and social media channels. The case for 2019 is already out, and you can find it here: https://iislweb.org/2019-manfred-lachs-space-law-moot-court-case/