This article was written collaboratively by Maria Shabhan, Simran Singh and Vaneshia Douglas
The Big Debate
On Wednesday we took part in the debate on the ‘Westminster system on government’ with the University of Mauritius students. We arrived at the UoM in the morning and settled down in the lecture theatre where the debate was taking place. We were warmly welcomed by the University students and staff who were extremely friendly and welcoming which helped us feel at ease. As time passed the lecture theatre began to fill up with both UoM and UCLan Mauritius students, staff and other guests. This was a major event for the UoM which was evident from the levels of turn out and preparation involved. However, it is safe to say that the event would not have been possible without Peter Kay who was labelled as the ‘mastermind’ behind the event. There were welcome talks from the Head of School and judicial guests.
After a quick refreshment break we commenced with the debate. We were divided in groups of 2/3 and dealt with a specific topic. These topics included defining the Westminster system and its features and discussing the challenges of this system such as the supra- national organisations, separation of powers, the human rights agenda and effective representation. The UoM students then gave their presentation on aspects of the Westminster system as they applied in Mauritius.
There was a panel in attendance to judge the debate and decide the winners. The panel was headed by His Honour Dr Satyabhooshun Gupt Domah, former senior judge from the Supreme Court (Court of Appeal judge, Seychelles; judicial member of the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights). The panel also included Mr Prammod Kumar, a constitutional law lecturer at UoM, and Michael Doherty, Principal Lecturer at UCLan.
Unfortunately we did not win the debate (the UoM students were very impressive), however the whole experience allowed us to really bond as a group, supporting and encouraging each other. The panel also gave awards to the best speakers from both universities. Maria was awarded the best speaker from UCLan and Jamal was awarded best speaker from UOM.
The Cultural Event
After the debate, the students from the University of Mauritius held a cultural event for us on the campus. Here they entertained us with traditional Mauritian Creole food, Indian dancing and singing from one of their bands.
One of the students took us over to the annual cultural event of Maha Shivaratree; a festival that is celebrated at the end of February. This annual event is celebrated by Hindus paying tribute to Shiva, a Hindu God. The celebration takes place in a sacred lake on the island where the pilgrims collect holy water.
The cultural event held productions on the main stage from belly dancing to a mini catwalk presenting both English clothes and saris. There were also many stands on show offering a piece of Hindi culture for example; fruits, sweet desserts, incense, flowers used in worship and a mehndi corner. Mehndi is the art of applying a temporary henna tattoo; they are usually used in wedding preparations. The Lancashire Law School students indulged in this new experience with various designs of henna on our shoulders, hands, wrists and legs. The guys also engaged in representing UCLan and had the Law School logo ‘tattooed’ onto their arms.
Arbitration Centre Talk
We later, in the midst of a tropical downpour, took the local bus (for 12 rupees) over to the UCLan Mauritius campus for the final event of the day. Students of both campuses were in attendance, among other academics for the talk from Duncan Bagshaw, Registrar of the Mauritius International Arbitration Centre.
The International Arbitration Centre operates in Mauritius but also receives support from the UK and is used as an alternative to litigation to resolve international disputes. The Mauritius Centre is promoting arbitration in Mauritius as a bridge between Africa and business from the rest of the world.
The New York Convention 1958 is one of the most widely supported international agreements, with 151 signatories. When an organisation is party to an arbitration they have the autonomy and ability to decide on certain procedures during the resolution, such as time limits. But parties are bound in an arbitration by the decision of the arbitrator even if they do not agree with it. However, arbitrations can generally provide assurance to the parties involved as the arbitrator provides an internationally neutral service and shall not favour a local organisation.
The talk was part of a series from distinguished legal guests to the UCLan Mauritius campus. We all benefitted from it and found very informative. Following the talk, we presented Duncan Bagshaw with a gift from the University as a thank you to him for taking the time out to discuss International Arbitration with us.