Khawar Mumtaz is the type of person who when faced with injustice knew she had to do something to confront it. The 1970s in Pakistan were a particularly dark time in a country who has had its share of dark times. The politics of authoritarianism and repression were on the rise and the rights of the average citizen were on the decline. In this moment entered an unlikely voice—a woman, a scholar, an activist.
Amos Guiora, dressed in a U hoodie, looks into his webcam in a dimly lit room in Israel over a faulty Skype connection. He jokes about living in his own time zone. Guiora, a professor of law at the U, spends half of the year in Utah and the other half in his native Israel. Last year alone he traveled a quarter of a million miles, which is nothing out of the ordinary for him.
I am a 2001 LLM graduate of the SJ Quinney College of Law (“CoL”), University of Utah (the “U”), may be one of the few, if not the only, Chinese students of the CoL since China reopened its door to US in 1980’s. At the time when I was admitted by the CoL back to 15 years ago, most Chinese students at the U studied natural science and engineering. I surprised many of them that the CoL could offer a full scholarship to a Chinese law student.
When most people think of the legal system, they tend to think of intense litigation within crowded courtrooms, murder, theft, or something equally dramatic. What usually doesn’t come to mind immediately is something like basic human rights.
From an international perspective, human rights violations are among the biggest legal quandaries facing the world, and it’s upon this highly complex aspect of law that Erika George, Co-Director of the Center for Global Justice and professor at the University of Utah College of Law, is focusing her research.
It is 8:45 a.m. on what you had assumed was just another Friday morning, the problem is, it’s not just like every other Friday morning. Instead intelligence begins streaming in of an act of piracy within international waters. An American cargo ship has been hijacked, and it’s your job to decide what happens next. How do you respond, what do you do? And more importantly, what exactly are the legal ramifications of your decision? Time is of the essence. The lives of the entire crew aboard the vessel rest on your decision, and the press is waiting for an official statement.
If this sounds intense, that’s the point.
Co-Director of the Center for Global Justice, and professor in the S.J. Quinney College of Law, Amos Guiora has spent more than 30 years running counter-terrorism simulations featuring scenarios just like the one above.