“Mr. President, your excellencies, and may it please the court…” These words have echoed in my mind the past three days as I’ve processed the countless hours I spent in courtrooms this past weekend at the 2013 Stetson International Environmental Moot Court Competition‘s North American Regional at American University. I flew to Washington, D. C. last Friday to watch my twin sister Stephanie, a 2L at Pepperdine University Law School, participate in a competition she and her partner, Austin, had been preparing for months. Their coach, Jeff, his wife, Steph, and my sister’s fiance, Paul, all flew in to watch the competition as well, along with a group of Wheaton College alumni who graduated with my sister and me in 2011.
We all watched, amazed, as the duo from Pepperdine Law School, Stephanie and Austin, swept their competition. The President & VP of Pepperdine’s Environmental Law Society went 7-0 on the weekend, were ranked as the #1 and #5 oralists of the competition, respectively, and are headed to the global competition from March 21-23 in Florida, where they’ll compete against teams from West Africa, China, India, and more.
The hypothetical/theoretical competition’s theme was “transboundary haze and species protection.” Each team had to argue on both sides of the issue at various points throughout the competition: the first side, representing developing island state Abelii, suffering from transboundary haze caused from fires occurring in neighboring island state Redox, and the other side, defending Redox’s environmentally-unsustainable development policies including the elimination of an endangered orangutan species.
Both nation-states are fictional entities, but each team fought as if they were real with passion, conviction, and fervor. Judges of the competition ranged from Tess Bridgeman, an Attorney Adviser at the U. S. Department of State, to Durwood Zaelke, President and founder of the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development, to Carroll Muffett, President and CEO of the Center for International Environmental Law.
“You’re all going places,” the judges said in their closing remarks. “It is an honor and privilege to be here, watching the future of international environmental law representatives rise up to meet this global challenge.”
I’m not all too familiar with the current state of international environmental law policy, but attending this conference definitely made me aware of the importance of supporting environmentally sustainable policies in nations around the world.
I couldn’t be more proud of my twin sister, Stephanie, and her partner, Austin, champions of the North American regional and President/VP of Pepperdine’s Environmental Law Society, who are representing America at next month’s global finals in Florida.
Watch a slideshow of photos I took during the event below: