We meet to uphold the time honoured values and principles of humanity and celebrate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, and of learning whilst embracing the diversities of the world we live in, believing that man’s greatest moment is a moment in time of warm embrace and acceptance for his fellow human being. 

Legal jurists have since the time of the second century formulated theories to explain, understand and sometimes to interpret and supplement the body of man’s knowledge in relation to his view of the world. The Roman, Gaius articulated the “law of nations” as a law that is “common to all men”. In 1625, Hugo Grotius further developed the “law common to all men” to include men of other faiths, the Muslims, Hindus, Jews and Chinese. Jeremy Bentham wrote the “Principles of International Law” in 1789 describing the foreigner oriented law. Immanuel Kant the great thinker and philosopher’s concept of a republic linked to human rights, the right of nations and cosmopolitan law was instructive and even more so relevant today. The concept can be seen as a forerunner of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sharing with it the idea that some rights have a universal value no matter what one’s political, social, cultural or religious leanings are. 

The idea of an interdependent world re-emerged out of the ashes of destruction and devastation of the two World Wars in the Twentieth Century. With global interdependence gradually replacing the ideological and political struggles, Philip C Jessup in 1956 noted and recognized that the governance of human affairs could not be artificially confined and restrained by artificial boundaries of political states. He had conceptualized a new framework in the study of inter-state relationships which he termed “transnational law”. It was to include all rules, norms or customs which regulates actions or events of all actors, relationships between states, relationships between state and non-state actors, public and private international law, of domestic and international law dichotomy that transcends national frontiers. It embraced a wider and more comprehensive world view of global human interaction, of business, and commercial; of constitutional, administrative, and political affairs; of litigation and negotiation; and of human rights, public interest and civil rights. 

In the last fifty or so years saw the creation of various permanent and semi permanent international tribunals created by international treaties or by international agencies of world bodies to adjudicate and settle the increasing conflict between the various actors brought about by the ever increasing human interaction across national borders. Parallel to this development was the establishment of international and regional arbitral centers which catered to the private commercial disputes of business. This rapid interdependency expedited by technological advances gave birth to an era which we now termed as “Globalization” which had and continues to significantly change the nature of these challenges. Even as such advancement and optimization of global networks be they financial markets or global supply chains create opportunity it is equably susceptible to crises. 

In 1960, Sirimavo Bandaranaike became the world’s first woman Prime Minister in an unprecedented Sri Lankan election which was made all the more incredulous being a male dominated society. Not long thereafter, Neil Armstrong becomes the first man to walk on the moon in 1969 bearing testimony to the final frontier. The fall of Saigon in 1975 marked the end of the Vietnam War. Hong Kong reverted back to China in 1997 after 156 years under British control. 1989 saw one of the greatest pro-democracy rallies in Tiananmen Square which shocked the world at large. Following that, Nelson Mandela, after serving 27 long years behind bars was finally released in 1990 and became the first black President of South Africa. Apollo 13 was turned from the certainty of tragic human disaster by human values deeply rooted into the human mindset that tells us what is important. The mission was no longer about success. It was about something far more important: it was about caring for our fellow human beings. "Failure is not an option," Gene Kranz, lead flight director for Mission Control told his ground crew at Houston. The Berlin Wall falls in 1990 after separating Germany for more than a quarter of a century. In 1995 Microsoft released the Windows 95 operating system, Martina Hingis at 15 years 282 days became the youngest person in history to win at Wimbledon the following year. iMac is unveiled by Apple in 1998. In the same year the U.S. Embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya are bombed killing 224 people and Exxon acquires Mobil for US$73.7 billion creating the largest company on planet Earth! The terrorist attack on the World Trade Centre takes place on September, 11th, 2002. The Asian Tsunami strikes on Boxing Day 2004 after a undersea earthquake measuring 9.3 on the Richter Scale. In 2009, a black man is elected to the highest office in arguably the world’s only super power, unimaginable a generation ago. And we are now in the midst of the worst global financial and economic crisis since the Great Depression. Each and every event affects another human soul. In all its forms of human endeavors throughout history, achievements and challenges bring out the best and the worst of the human condition. The management of human interaction so crucial in a civilized world is made all the more important as the world becomes increasing closer. 

The LAWASIA Moot Standing Committee recognizes the dependency of peoples and nations in an increasing complex and challenging global environment. Upholding the rule of law, equality and justice, equal opportunity and access for all, the environment, genocide, cultural and racial superiority, bigotry, dictatorships even benevolent ones and terrorism are some of challenges confronting us. We recognise that the law and civil institutions of democracy together with institutions of dispute resolution alone are not the answers to man’s problems. A new generation of men and women sworn to uphold the cause of justice with character, faith, integrity and fortitude is the best hope we have. So we hope, without being naive that the world we live in will change as we choose to embrace change itself so that we might see change in the world. Gandhi so eloquently put it, “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” 

The competition shall therefore not be limited to any particular area of the law or a specific international dispute resolution forum or mechanism but may be changed from year to year mirroring current global concerns. Similarly the forum shall accordingly reflect the selected area of law. The competition is not just about winning but of fulfilling one’s potential. Of a voyage of self discovery, building bridges and forging relationships with every tongue and tribe remembering that we have been created equal. 

We celebrate the global citizen whose common heritage, shared values and universal legacy that makes us human are intertwined like a cord of three strands that is not easily broken. We share in a common hope and of a common dream that man shall overcome every adversity and challenge against impossible odds with unyielding faith in our improbable quest to sow the seeds of a better tomorrow through legal education and the law. It is an opportunity for all of us who are bound together by a common and shared interest in the law to do the right thing for a future generation, for in them lies the seeds of our collective destiny. 

Ours is the audacity to believe. 

Raphael Tay
LAWASIA Moot Standing Committee