ZELA Stokes Public Interest Law with Moot Court Competition


ZELA Press Statement

Date of Issue: July 28, 2023

Finals set for Bulawayo

In a bid to prepare a new generation of public interest lawyers to argue cases and work with communities on matters relating to business and human rights, the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is hosting moot court finals for Law Schools in Zimbabwe and Zambia on August 2 and 3 in Bulawayo.

Following preliminary rounds of selection that were conducted at the law school level, the best moot teams from the University of Zimbabwe, Great Zimbabwe University, Midlands State University, and the Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University will be joined by contestants from Zambian Law Schools in a battle for the moot championship.

At the finals, contesting teams will be presented with a hypothetical case that will tackle issues relating to state obligations to protect human rights in the context of business, corporate responsibility, and access to remedy, focusing on such aspects as standing, jurisdiction, and relief being sought, among others.

“The rationale of this competition is that there is a growing need for public interest lawyers who are able to work with communities to safeguard their rights in both the traditional and transitional mining sectors,” said ZELA Responsible Investments and Business Program Lead, Josephine Chiname.

“Public interest lawyers have a big role to play in promoting environmental and socio-economic justice, especially against the excess power of the state and corporations within Africa’s mining sector. For example, host mining communities contribute little to environmental degradation, yet they suffer disproportionate burdens and impacts. Again, due to systematic injustices, they are marginalized and are the least able to mobilize against the violations that often characterize the situation of environmental and socio-economic injustices occasioned by some corporations,” she added.

ZELA is using moot courts as part of its work to promote responsible investments and business within the mining and energy sectors in Zimbabwe. In most instances, the exploitation of mineral resources in Zimbabwe has failed to materialize into tangible benefits for local resource-rich communities. Instead, mining communities are constantly fighting for the protection of their environment and health against harmful impacts caused by the activities of powerful mining corporations. Thus, the need to continuously empower public interest lawyers to safeguard the interests of communities.

As such, the moot court is expected to build the capacity of upcoming lawyers through research and debate on business and human rights issues in Zimbabwe, bring out issues that can influence more learning and research in the area, and create an opportunity for students to work closely with business and human rights experts.

The Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA) is a public-interest environmental law organization working to promote environmental justice in Southern Africa through sustainable and equitable utilization of natural resources and environmental protection. ZELA believes that depending on how natural resources are exploited and the revenues derived from them utilized, they can either contribute towards the realization of environmental and socio-economic justice or undermine it.


For Further Information, Please Contact:

Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

26 B Seke Road, Hatfield,Harare,Zimbabwe

Website : www.zela.org  |Twitter: @ZELA_Infor | Facebook: Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

Tel: +263 242 573 601-3

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