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Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law receives $2 million grant for international competition

Oct 31, 2016

Ohio Northern University’s Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs of the U.S. Department of State to administer the Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition in Afghanistan for the next two years.

The Jessup Competition is the largest international moot court competition in the world with more than 550 law schools from 87 countries participating. Now in its 58th year, the competition is sponsored by the International Law Students Association as well as White and Case, an international law firm, which hosts the International Rounds in Washington, D.C., every spring.

ONU will manage the Afghan competition, which will include 18 law schools throughout the country competing in the Afghan National Rounds in Kabul, Afghanistan, in early 2017. As part of the program, the winning Afghan teams will travel to ONU to continue to practice their advocacy skills before competing in the International Rounds in Washington, D.C.

Center Director Howard Fenton will provide overall supervision for the project, while Mara Smith will be the program administrator, traveling between ONU and Kabul several times a year. Smith, a graduate of Capital University Law School with an LL.M. from Glasgow University Graduate School of Law, has a long history of involvement with the Jessup program. She has competed for both of her law schools, judged at the International Rounds and worked with Jessup teams at law schools in Colombia, Russia and Bosnia for several years.

The ONU Pettit College of Law has a long and successful history of participation in the Jessup Competition, with last year’s team advancing to the International Rounds out of a very competitive Midwest region.

Fenton, the former coach of the ONU Jessup team, said, “The competition provides an exceptional opportunity for Afghan law students to develop their legal research and advocacy skills and test themselves against other law students from around the world. The State Department funding allows for broad participation by law schools all over the country and will help build a sustainable base for future Jessup participation in Afghanistan.”

ONU President Dan DiBiasio said, “The Center for Democratic Governance and Rule of Law is making a major contribution to advancing the rule of law around the world and representing the commitment the University has to service and leadership here and abroad, and this grant supports that effort.”

This is the third grant the center has received from the State Department since last October. All told, the center has received more than $5.2 million in awards to support its mission of promoting democratic governance and the rule of law.