News from the SECO / WTI Academic Cooperation Project
Victor Saco, a PhD candidate at the World Trade Institute, this month takes up a full professorship at the law faculty of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). Victor’s studies were sponsored by the WTI-SECO partnership which builds regional research capacities in a number of countries, including Peru. In this interview he talks about the importance of the SECO connection and his fond memories of Bern.
Tell us about your new position
Well, I will be a full-time professor in the Law Department of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú (PUCP). This new position was created to reinforce the area of International Economic Law. I am the first full-time professor in this area, and the idea is to create more specialised courses in this field for the law school, and coordinate academic events and research (thesis and publications).
I will also have administrative duties, basically to help coordinate our master’s programme on International Economic Law, first directed by Elvira Méndez and now by Manuel Monteagudo, that is a partner of the WTI through the SECO Project.
I am very excited about this new venture, because I learned a lot (academically and at the organisational level) at the WTI, and I am glad to share that knowledge here in Peru.
What have you been doing since leaving Bern?
First, finishing the last details of my thesis under the supervision of Professor Cottier, to whom I am very grateful. I came back to PUCP as a lecturer in International Economic Law. I combined that with writing articles, my position as a lawyer in the Legal Advising Office of the Cabinet of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and my family. Very busy but enriching times. My former position at the Ministry brought me contact with the “hot topics” for Peru in international law, including some WTO topics in which I was trained at the WTI, and enhanced my abilities to apply my academic mindset to solve professional problems.
Tell us about your thesis. Does the full-time position mean it is almost complete?
Yes, this full time position will help me to finish the last details of the thesis [on the relationship between water usage and international investment in mining in Peru]. There are really just the final details to sort out, but the intensity of the tasks I already mentioned kept me away from the final draft. It was a little frustrating because there is so little to change but there is no time! Most of the changes were the result of the presentation of the final conclusions of my thesis at the global SIEL Conference last year in Bern, but since that moment I have not been able to make progress. My goal for 2015 is to be the second PhD of my family. There you have it… a public commitment!
As a PhD student at the WTI you benefited from SECO funding. How important has the SECO connection been for you?
Yes, I am very grateful for the support (it is another reason to finish the thesis). The SECO connection is very important, I was connected to the SECO project from the very beginning when WTI was looking for a partner in the region, and finally chose PUCP. Being at the WTI opened up various opportunities to network academically with the SECO partners (Switzerland, Vietnam, South Africa, Chile, Indonesia and now Colombia), and all the WTI network around the world. As for other WTI alumni, WTI has changed my life and the lives of many Peruvians benefiting from the project, in Lima or in Bern.
How do you look back on your time in Bern?
Wonderful, Bärn is the best city to raise a family. We had a great time there and have great friends whose friendship we treasure. Even my son got a future wife (laugh). I really like Swiss people, and Bernese in general are always kind and concerned to make you feel integrated. I miss a lot hearing Bärndütsch (I think I have almost destroyed my Steff La Cheffe CD from overuse), the Glatz café, an after-office beer with friends in the Parterre bar, biking and swimming in the Aare river in summer. It was a really enriching time academically, but most of all it was a happy time. I really lived the Bärn experience. Merci vie mau!