Western Law students take home the trophy as first Canadian team in the Hague Inter-University Law Debate Tournament

February 13, 2023

Justine Dryburgh, Meghan Hawa, & Dylan Parobec

Justine Dryburgh, Meghan Hawa & Dylan Parobec

In June 2022, Western Law Students Justine Dryburgh, Meghan Hawa, and Dylan Parobec, with the support of their coach, Professor Valerie Oosterveld, took home the trophy in the Hague Inter-University Law Debate Tournament.

This was Western Law’s first entry, and the first entry from a Canadian Law school, in this prestigious tournament involving 32 teams of international law students. Western Law debated against teams from Australia, Brazil, France, Iceland, Italy, Nepal, Nigeria, South Africa, and Sri Lanka.

The tournament launched in 2015 with the goal to “foster the study of public and private international law in connection with current developments on the global and regional levels.” It is run by the Corax Foundation, a not-for-profit dedicated to the development and growth of young professionals and fostering collaboration opportunities between academia, public, and private sectors.

The team progressed through five rounds of debates covering a wide range of topics including cyber-terrorism and the laws of war, space law, vaccine and patent laws, food law, and freedom of expression allowing them to gain valuable practical experience.

“This experiential learning opportunity allowed me to take what I was learning in the classroom and apply it to a real-life scenario. One of my favourite aspects was exploring areas of the law that I hadn’t learned about before,” said Justine Dryburgh, JD Candidate 2024. “Working as part of a team to research and synthesize complex international law topics and present our oral arguments, while rebutting the opposing team, are skills that will help me in my future career.”

Western Law’s students prevailed over the Hague University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) in the finals in a debate on cyber-terrorism and the laws of war. Dryburgh and Hawa also both won oralist prizes for their performances in the final round.

“I was very proud to see the progression of Justine, Meghan and Dylan throughout the tournament,” said Professor Oosterveld. “I could see them becoming more confident in their debate abilities and their knowledge of international law. It was a pleasure to watch them improve with every debate, ultimately earning the top award.”

The 2022 team is providing mentorship to the new team – 1L student Rebekah Rodrigues and 2Ls Jack Walsh and Spencer Reiser - who will defend Western Law’s title in the 2023 tournament running from February to May.