The Faculty of Law and Political Science (FLPS) at Notre Dame University-Louaize (NDU), in collaboration with the University of Oxford, launched on January 30, 2018, the Middle East Regional Rounds of the annual Oxford Monroe Price Media Law Moot Court Competition in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP). The opening ceremony took place in Issam Fares Hall at the University main campus.
In attendance were: NDU President Fr. Pierre Najem; Vice-President for Administration (VPA) at NDU Fr. Samir Ghsoub; Vice-President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) at NDU Dr. Elie Badr; H.E. Lebanese Minister of Justice Salim Jreissati; H.E. Lebanese Minister of Information Melhem al-Riachy, represented by Director General of the Ministry of Information Dr. Hassan Falha; and participants from different universities in the Middle East (Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Palestine, Tunisia, and Lebanon) as well as a host of attorneys and legal specialists, and University deans, faculty, staff, and students. The primary sponsors of this international competition were Byblos Bank, Sader Group, and Al Mashrek Insurance.
Master of Ceremonies and Office of Public Affairs and Protocol Director at NDU Majed Bou Hadir welcomed the audience and gave an overview of the competition.
FLPS Dean at NDU Dr. Maan Bou Saber welcomed to Lebanon, and to the University in particular, the participants and the University of Oxford competition, which serves as a platform to promote human rights and offer societies around the world freedom of expression. He likened the competition to a modernity-meets-heritage convention. He said, "We take delight in the fact that this competition returns us to the principles of natural law that has its most distinctive characteristic in its account of purely positive law.”
PCLMP Coordinator at the University of Oxford Nevena Krivokapic thanked NDU for co-organizing and hosting the moot court. She said, “All the teams are winners now that they are competing in this regional round.”
Middle East Oxford Moot Court Competition Coordinator Dr. Ahmed Khalifa stressed the importance of cooperation between NDU and the University of Oxford, noting that it was a collaboration reflecting shared knowledge in learning. He said, "Self-education and critical thinking are important values in this competition.” He added, “I can only wish all the contestants the very best of luck, and I extend my profound thanks to our hosts.”
For his part, Fr. Najem said, "The media has become a mass global medium used to express thoughts and opinions; it has become responsible for shaping events by giving magnitude through instant deployment. In short, it has become a comprehensive and inclusive component of public opinion."
He added, "Laws, when necessary, are subject to liability, but they are incapable of anticipating the burden. Oppressive laws and regulations, however, can create strict control and media censorship, resulting in the disarmament of this fourth power.”
Fr. Najem went on to stress the importance of NDU’s role as an institution of higher education that seeks to support society and to help it evolve. “The Media departments at NDU have an obligation to act for the benefit of society at large; therefore, our programs instill in our graduates, who are our emissaries, both theoretical and practical knowledge rooted in moral and civic dimensions. We teach in this way to ensure that our graduates become ethical correspondents capable of discerning a sensationalized scoop from a moralistic truth. Our University is committed to the truth, and our Media departments are no exception, as all our media graduates have proved to be entirely dedicated to righteousness, justice, the preservation of human dignity, and the welfare of society.”
Dr. Falha, speaking on behalf of Al-Riachy, said, "The enormous advancements in technology call for fundamental amendments to the legal texts, requiring new, flexible, and precise legislation. Modern access to knowledge has changed the role of the media and its purpose."
He added, "The greater the horizon of technological development, the narrower the scope of legal legislation; technologies are closer to the speed of development, therefore, legislative frameworks need to be impartial, and as a result, we are now facing tremendous development and slow legislation."
Jreissati thanked NDU for the initiative. He said, "This celebration is more than a trendy event, it deals with comparative media laws in Lebanon, a Middle Eastern nation rooted in civil liberties, while neighboring countries still struggle to gain full access to freedom of expression. Freedom of expression, however, does not necessarily guarantee a greater degree of democracy; the world still continues to witness a struggle for freedom of expression, often in tandem with religious freedom."
"The media has witnessed significant advancements in our lifetime," he said. "In terms of the means of transmitting the news or in terms of its geographic reach, the media is a double-edged sword: borderless and boundless … In Lebanon, rest assured that media freedom is secure through a strict national change and reform policy, and through dedicated government effort to restore confidence in the state, its ministries, and its institutions."
In conclusion, Jreissati presented the ministry's honorary shield to Fr. Najem and Dr. Bou Saber. In return, the University presented commemorative shields to Jreissati, Dr. Falha, and the University of Oxford representatives.
The opening ceremony included the screening of a short documentary about NDU as well as a moving musical interlude with Jihad Zeidan and Celine Hjaily, who sang an enchanting melody about human rights.
Over the course of the past few days, mooters took part in a court hearing to present their case; they analyzed the problem, researched the relevant laws, prepared written submissions, and presented an oral argument.
When assessing the mooters’ oral arguments, judges based their criteria on the mooters’ knowledge and use of facts, knowledge of the law, structure of argument, quality of argument, and overall presentation skills.
Winners of the Middle East Regional Rounds were announced on February 2, 2018, as follows:
- Winner: British University in Egypt
- Runner-up: Mansoura University, Egypt
Qualifying teams for the International Rounds (to be held in Oxford) are:
- Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK)
- British University in Egypt
- Shahid Beheshti University, Iran
- Mansoura University, Egypt
- Ain Shams University, Egypt
- Allameh Tabataba'i University, Iran