By Dr. Mark McGraw
On April 28-29, 2023, the Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States (ESMOAS) Program’s Eighth Inter-American Court of Human Rights Moot Court (IACHR) Competition was held at Baylor University. Although the hearings were delayed by weather on April 28, an invited five-judge panel managed to hear all arguments in a preliminary and final round presented by teams from Baylor and St. Mary’s Universities.
Teams of two contestants argued alternately as State and Petitioner in a case involving a bauxite mine’s pollution of a river in a fictional South American country. The river was sacred to an indigenous group whose way of life and religious practices were severely limited by the pollution. Petitioners cited violations of the American Convention on Human Rights, the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, as well as judgements from other international courts, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the Court’s prior decisions in their arguments.
Baylor’s Logan Butler (senior history major, Evansville, Indiana) won a number of awards: the Outstanding Team Award, representing both State and Petitioner in his arguments; the Outstanding State Legal Memorial Award for best written memorial; and the combined Outstanding Team Legal Memorial, followed by Michael Jordan (junior University Scholar, Harker Heights) and Sam Joyce (sophomore international studies major, Downer’s Grove, Illinois), who took the plaque for Distinguished Team. Jordan also won the Distinguished State Legal Memorial, while Joyce received the Outstanding Orator award and the Outstanding Petitioner Memorial Award, and Victoria Shellenberger (sophomore political science major, Phoenix, Arizona) won the Distinguished Petitioner Memorial Award.
Other Baylor participants were: Mari Benavides (junior history and Latin American studies major, San Benito, Texas); Vanessa Cham (junior neuroscience major, Rockwall, Texas); Pedro Leonardo Enes (freshman economics major, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil); Aanya Pidiath (freshman political science major, Hillsborough, New Jersey); and Ben Cleveland (freshman pre-business major, San Antonio, Texas).
This spring’s competition concludes the year’s Model Organization of American States activities at Baylor, and represents the 26th and final year of Dr. Joan Supplee’s directorship of the program that has competed throughout the Western Hemisphere, reflected great credit on Baylor University, and profoundly positively influenced the lives of countless students. Starting in the fall of 2023, Baylor’s MOAS program will be directed by Dr. Mark McGraw, lecturer in the Department of Modern Languages and Cultures. Questions about MOAS may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Photo credit: Oscar Camarillo)