The African Team From UNICAL Emerges As Semi-Finalists In The 2023 Manfred Lachs Space Law Moot Court Competition

The UNICAL team

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. 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 6,000 participants. 

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. Teams from various regions across the globe participate in regional rounds. 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.

Seventy-seven teams from Universities worldwide participated in this year’s MLMC, arguing a case related to laser activities and the use of anti-satellite weapons in outer space. UNICAL’s Faculty of Law students displayed exceptional legal acumen, competing against 17 other African Universities in the regional rounds.

In a remarkable display of legal prowess, Team UNICAL won in the African Regional Finals, surpassing the University of Pretoria, South Africa and 16 other Universities. This achievement earned them the African Team/Regional Champions title, placing them alongside champions from Latin America, Asia, Northern America, and Europe.

Team UNICAL advanced to the Quarter Finals during the competition, where they went up against the Latin American Regional Champions. Together, they defeated their Latin American counterparts, securing their place in the semi-final stage. In 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, 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 award.

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

Their coaches and staff advisers expertly guided the African Regional Champions, Ms. Anne Agi and Mr. Owoche Antai, who provided unwavering support and guidance throughout their journey.

The UNICAL team and their coach. Source: Ms. Anne Agi

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