Cambodia’s court competition team trainers Zachary Lampell (left) and Shona Grandy (second from right) with team members Piseth Panha, Soy Kimsan, Sreng Nearirath, Khun Sonita and Vireak Thirith.
This Sunday five law students from the Royal University of Law and Economics will compete in Washington at the prestigious Jessup International Moot Court Competition.
In its 50th year, the Jessup competition is the world's largest of its kind with more than 500 law schools from 80 countries competing.
The competition is a mock trial of two fictional countries before the United Nations' International Court of Justice.
Each competing team must prepare written and oral arguments to present to the court,
This is the first year Cambodia has sent a team. The five chosen participants have been preparing since last September. Their fund raising efforts for the trip were aided by a last-minute donation from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The team have also had strong support from the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia and have been trained by ECCC defence intern Shona Grandy, a two-time national Jessup competitor for England, and Zachery Lampell, a former ECCC intern on the winning team of last year's International Jessup Competition.
Grandy said the team had been working hard to prepare for the competition, adding that their attendance was a huge source of pride for Cambodia, as they would be competing against some of the best law schools in the world.
"They have worked unbelievably hard," she said.
"They have gone from individuals who froze when you asked them a question or interrupted their speech to standing up, each one of them for 20 minutes, and defending their point and arguing with the judge. Their knowledge of international law has just rocketed. It is a fantastic transformation."
Nearirath Sreng, a member of the Cambodian Jessup team, said her participation in the competition was a dream come true.
"This will be my first visit to the United States and I feel very nervous and excited," she said. "There are so many brilliant people competing, but all we can do is try our best and hope that we do well."
Grundy said the fact that English was the team's second language would be a hindrance, but she hoped this would be just the beginning for Cambodia's involvement in the Jessup Competition.
The competition runs in Washington from March 22 to 28.