Presentations on international piracy, terrorism, the effectiveness of legal education, corporations, human rights, and the occasional meeting with NATO initiated groups; for most law professors, a list like this would represent years of travel and work. For Professor Upendra Acharya, however, this is just an average summer. Acharya, a well-known and often-requested speaker on a variety of topics, is also one of Gonzaga Law’s foremost international law experts. His work addresses worldwide issues, addresses the concerns of the voiceless, all while teaching a full load of classes and helping students make connections everywhere from the World Bank to the United Nations.
Discussing Worldwide Issues on a Worldwide Stage
When Professor Acharya talks about his travels, it feels like a lesson in world geography. In the summer of 2012 his travels started in Beijing where he taught as a visiting professor for International Trade and Business Practice Law. After a stop in Shanghai to lecture on political economy, international trade and development, it was off to France. While in Toulouse, Acharya again taught as a visiting professor this time addressing Administrative Law. The final stop on Acharya’s summer travel schedule was in Spain to speak on international law and U.S. Foreign Policy at a European think tank.
In the 2012-2013 break between Fall and Spring semesters at Gonzaga Law, where Acharya teaches a full load of classes, the travel continued with trips to both Turkey and India. This trip included stops to talk over Maritime security and piracy with representatives of 32 countries at a NATO initiative meeting.
Following the NATO meeting, Acharya was asked to make a quick stop at the Istanbul University School of Law to discuss corporations and human rights which was followed with speaking as the featured speaker at a Human Rights Day program at Tamil Nadu Dr. Ambedkar Law University in Chennai, India. Human Rights Day is a yearly celebration created by the United Nations as an opportunity to highlight a specific issue and advocate for human rights around the world. Acharya chose to mark the celebration by speaking on governance, corruption, and human rights. Finally before returning to the States, Acharya visited 4 law schools in South India to discuss the effectiveness of American legal education and Human Rights issues.
Taking On Big Problems
Though the topics Acharya speaks about cover a wide range of issues, he points out that he chooses big topics with a common thread because “Otherwise, why should people care? I do deal with very little things inside big things, that are hurting deprived people within the big problems.”
Sitting in his office at Gonzaga Law, Acharya explains that the common thread that runs throughout all of the presentations, publications, and travel he does is an “analysis of concerns of voiceless peoples around the world. I am passionate about people who are deprived of rights, do not have access to justice, who are victims of the system that only powerful agents can get benefit out of.”
Recognizing the Importance of International Law
Despite the heavy travel schedule, a number of publications in the works and planning a similarly busy summer for 2013 that includes China, Brazil, and France, Acharya makes it a point to spend as much time as possible with his students. Over the years, students that have demonstrated a commitment to international law have had Acharya’s assistance in finding LL. M. programs and positions in different NGO’s and International Institutions.
“It is very important, particularly given the global condition where each country is interconnected. Whatever we do- education, business, practice of law, or any policy decisions or analysis that will affect other countries one way or another, and visa versa. Therefore, it has become essential, even inevitable, that our legal education embrace a global context in order to continue American leadership in legal education and the practice of law. I hope we all realize it sooner.”
All photos courtesy Upendra Acharya.