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4 Top Human Rights Competitions for 2018

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) invites undergraduate and graduate students to take part in the Science and Human Rights Coalition essay competition. Applicants have the flexibility to choose any topic that lies at the intersection of science and/or technology and human rights. All entries should be critical and analytical papers which raise important and thought-provoking questions. This essay competition aims to inspire students to do more research and look for connections between human rights and different fields of science, including engineering and medicine.

Instructions and application deadlines can be found on the website during each year’s open competition period. Students from any university and any country are eligible to participate. Winners in each of the two categories (undergraduate and graduate students) will receive the following benefits:

  • A year-long membership in AAAS;
  • A year-long subscription to Science journal;
  • A travel stipend to attend the AAAS Science and Human Rights Coalition meeting in July 2018 where their achievements will be recognized.

There is also a possibility that the winning essays will be published by the AAAS Scientific Responsibility, Human Rights and Law Program.

The Nelson Mandela World Human Rights Moot Court Competition is organized jointly by the University of Pretoria and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner. Undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world are eligible to compete in this moot court. Universities should form a team of two students (preferably a woman and a man), who will have to submit their arguments based on a hypothetical case the organizers will provide them with. A panel of experts will then choose ten best teams from every UN region, all of whom will receive an invitation to participate in the pre-final and final rounds in Geneva. In these final rounds, teams will be assigned the role of either the Applicant or the Respondent, and they will act before human rights judges. This competition is held in English and French.

Participants will also have the opportunity to attend a one-day event where they can get acquainted with the work of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Office and the Human Rights Council. There is no registration fee to participate in this moot court competition; however, participants are responsible for all relevant costs of travel and accommodation. Information about dates, how to register, and other important instructions can be found on the FAQ portion of the site.

Each year, the Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust (HART) awards the HART prize to young people interested in global issues. This prize is given with an aim to raise awareness about human rights abuses, poverty, and conflict among young people in the UK, and to encourage this target group to critically engage in human rights discussions and projects.

There are two human rights contests for the HART prize: creative competition and essay competition. Applicants interested in the first competition are asked to produce a creative piece of work about any human right or humanitarian situation in one of the countries where HART is present. These works of art can include photographs, videos, sculptures, collages and graphic designs. For the essay competition, applications should do original research and write an essay on any human rights issue that relates to HART’s work. The maximum word limit for the essay is 1,200 words.

Entries from all over the world are welcome. The major eligibility criteria for this competition is the age limit. To be eligible to participate in the senior category, applicants should be aged between 18 and 25. Information and documents about prizes, the application process, eligibility, and submission guidelines can be reviewed on the site.

The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at American University also organizes the Inter-American Human Rights Moot Court. Universities are invited to register a team of two students and one or two coaches. All law schools across the world are eligible to participate. Registered and participating teams are allowed to submit up to three requests for clarifications of the facts in the case. They will then present both a written memorial and take part in oral argument sessions before a panel of judges.

The competition is a trilingual event (English, Portuguese, and Spanish) and has trained over 3000 student and faculty participants. Each year establishes a specific human rights topic. Information about the theme, registration fees, and other important competition facts can be found on the website once each year’s competition is open.

About the author

Allison Reefer

Allison Reefer is a young professional living in Pittsburgh, PA. She works with a refugee resettlement agency to help refugees and immigrants in the city, and she volunteers with a local shelter for human trafficking victims. She obtained her Master in International Development from the University of Pittsburgh and a BA in Writing from Geneva College, focusing most of her academic work on human trafficking and migration in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. In her free time, she loves to write, read, sing and play bass guitar, practice Russian, and explore her city.