Week Three (Part 2): Wow! Attending the Inaugural Asian Human Rights Court Simulation!

Week 3 Part Two (7/25 – 7/28)

I got to take a small part in the first ever Asian Human Rights Court Simulation (AHRCS). What is AHRCS? Well, Europe has the European Court of Human Rights. We have the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Africa, as of 2004, has the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights. Asia does not have a regional human rights judicial mechanism. Yet. 

Unfortunately, there are currently too many weak democracies and authoritarian governments in Asia for countries to create one of their own volition. So civil societies across Asia decided that they’d go ahead and make one themselves, as an example for government. 

AHRCS Press Conference, hosted by TFD

AHRCS Press Conference, hosted by TFD

AHRCS is a “simulation” in the sense that no government is backing the court (yet) and thus the judgements will not have as much weight as other regions’ courts. However, it felt real as I watched international law experts from across Asia don judges robes to hear arguments about a real person’s actual grievances. The court’s decision cannot compel the Taiwanese government (the defendant) to act, but may lend a measure of legitimacy to pressure from civil society, and hopefully can provide some comfort to the plaintiff.

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So what was my role? Well, on Thursday, I helped with a pre-trial press conference for some of the judges and advisors to AHRCS. I set up the room and directed guests like a good intern, then helped take notes for TFD during the discussion (which was thankfully in English this time). As the judges expressed their excitement and hope, I couldn’t help feeling like I was watching history.

AHRCS trial in progress at the National Taiwan University Law School

AHRCS trial in progress at the National Taiwan University Law School

 

AHRCS began pre-trial hearings on Friday, but I only attended the trial on Saturday morning (I watched the trial online on Sunday because of a scheduling conflict). On Saturday afternoon, there was a panel discussion with NGOs and with a former justice of the European Court of Human Rights. Saturday evening found me standing in the back of a packed bookstore basement, listening to an NYU law professor talk about her work regarding transitional justice. On Sunday after the trial was completed, six judges gave lectures introducing how international law is treated in their respective countries. You could call it IR nerd paradise.

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NYU Professor Ruti Teitel, talking about Transitional Justice. The audience filled the seats, open floor space, and the whole staircase.

If you want to learn more about the AHRCS, you could go here or here, or read what I wrote here.

Of course, all the thinking about international law and such made me hungry, so here’s some of what I ate:

割包 (Gua bao) are buns with pork, and this one had sweet peanut powder, a salty sauce, pickled greens, and cilantro. This is from a famous shop near the university where AHRCS was held.

割包 (Gua bao) are buns with pork, and this one had sweet peanut powder, a salty sauce, pickled greens, and cilantro. This is from a famous shop near the university where AHRCS was held.

 

Taiwanese 麵線 (mee sua, rice noodles) from a famous place in 西门町(Ximending).

Taiwanese 麵線 (mee sua, rice noodles) from a famous place in 西门町(Ximending). This one has parsley and pig intestines.