Video Journalism in the Shadow of War

KABUL, Afghanistan, 3 January 2014 — Afghan kids play soccer in the shadow of the wreckage of a military truck in this nation’s capital.

I’m here filming a documentary about a team of female Afghan university students competing in an international arbitration contest to be held in Hong Kong later this year. The competition is called the “Vis Moot.”

The Vis Moot is named after the late Willem Cornelis Vis, Executive Secretary of the Vienna Diplomatic Conference that created the UN Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). A mock judicial proceeding set up to examine a hypothetical case as an academic exercise, the moot is organized on an annual basis in Vienna by Pace University.

A few years ago, a sister moot, Vis (East), was instituted to encourage greater participation from Asian teams; this moot is hosted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Both moots follow the same format, and use the same moot problem, but in all other respects they are separate competitions.

Both contests aim to promote the study and practice of international commercial arbitration. The moot problem that contestants must address is normally based on a business dispute; and the teams are expected to present their arguments before a panel of arbitrators and under the rules of one of the major arbitral institutions, like the International Chambers of Commerce or the London Court of International Arbitration.

The documentary is being produced in conjunction with American University.