Participating in the USAID-sponsored Jessup Moot Court Competition, an Afghan law student discovers her passion
10 NOVEMBER 2011 | KABUL, AFGHANISTAN
“Without this program, I would have never dreamed of one day going to the United States to represent my school and my country in front of the whole world!” - Mursal Shirzad, fourth year law student at Kabul University’s sharia faculty.
Mursal Shirzad, an 18-year old law student at the Kabul University’s Faculty of Shari’a, and four of her classmates embarked on a journey to compete in the Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition held in Washington, D.C. Like many other things in her life, earning the coveted right to represent Afghanistan at a prestigious international competition did not come easy. After months of grueling practice and coaching, and support from USAID, Shirzad and her teammates participated in a five-day competition against four other student teams from the faculties of law and Shari’a at Al Biruni, Balkh, Hirat, and Nangarhar universities and were awarded the fiercely contested national championship title and the right to represent Afghanistan in Washington.
Shirzad credits her personal victory entirely to the unrelenting will and robust determination of her mother who insisted that Shirzad receive an education in the face of the Taliban’s prohibition against educating girls. She recalls how her mother learned of a makeshift school in a neighbor’s home that Shirzad and her older sisters could secretly attend.
Newly returned from her week competing in Washington, D.C., Shirzad commented that, “Jessup was not just a competition. It was a blending of cultures, a chance for young people from more than 80 countries to exchange experiences and life stories. We talked about our classes, our friends, and our families.”
The competition itself was rigorous. “Our team had only 14 books to use for our research on international law, while other countries had entire law libraries at their disposal,” said Shirzad,
She is most grateful for the confidence she acquired as a moot court debater and for her newfound expertise. “I now know more about international law than I know about national law. This knowledge will help me build a career as a human rights defender in Afghanistan,” said Shirzad
Many Afghans, especially women, have continued to bear hardship even in the post-Taliban era. Shirzad wants to use her refined advocacy skills, knowledge, and newfound passion for international law to defend the rights of the oppressed.
Last updated: January 20, 2015