Shin Hae Bong | DES 1993

Professor of International Law, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo

You were a student at the Graduate Institute in the 1990s before becoming Professor at Tokyo’s Aoyama Gakuin University. How has your time at the Institute shaped your career ?

In the early 1990s I was a Ph.D. student at the Graduate School of Law, Tokyo University. I decided that I wanted to become a scholar of international law. I already knew that human rights would become my lifelong passion, so international Geneva, the seat of the then UN Commission on Human Rights, seemed a natural choice. I studied for a DES at the Institute from 1991 to 1993. Those two years proved to be a remarkable experience offering me intel¬lectual training (reading, analysing, listening, speaking, writing) in a multidisciplinary setting. I also gained a deeper sense of the historical development of international law through the study of documents dating back to the League of Nations era, no small thing for a student of law. These experiences provided the foundation for my subsequent scholarly achievements and teaching career.

What are your areas of expertise ?

I have been working on legal issues surrounding effective implementation of human rights treaties. I teach general international law and international human rights law at undergraduate level, as well as international law at graduate level.

How do you see the role of women in international relations evolving ?

The role and presence of women are increasing, though they remain quite limited both in international relations and in Japan. Traditional gender division is deeply rooted in Japan, resulting in abnormally long working hours and a declining birth rate. But since politicians are predomi¬nantly old men, they cannot come up with helpful solu¬tions ! Greater participation by women in different sectors of society will yield more practical ideas based on real needs. When national politics changes across countries, international relations will change too.

You were one of the driving forces behind the creation of the Tokyo Alumni Chapter. What role does it play ?

Its creation was made possible thanks to the initiative and support of the Swiss Embassy in Tokyo, particularly Ambassador Paul Fivat and Mr Peter Nelson (who is also an alumnus). The Chapter seeks to strengthen ties both between the Institute and the alumni in Japan and among Japanese alumni, and to promote the Institute in Japan.