Bibek Pandey ’11 grew up witnessing stark social contrasts. As a child in Katmandu, Nepal, Pandey observed many signs of inequity in his neighborhood and explains that, as a result, he felt compelled to pursue a career fostering social justice and economic equality.
“The long line of beggars outside the temple I visited with my family, the sweat-soaked shirt of the rickshaw pullers in my neighborhood, the lack of electricity and access to clean water for people in my own backyard, all carved a lasting impression in me,” says Pandey from Nepal, where he returned in April to be married.
During his time at Columbia Law School, Pandey took an immediate interest in international law, and he singles out the course on the World Trade Organization taught by Professors Petros Mavroidis and Jagdish Bhagwati as a highlight. “The blend of law and policy was the right fit for me,” Pandey explains.
In the summer after his first year, Pandy earned a Human Rights Internship Program fellowship to work in the Geneva-based legal office of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. “This exposed me to topics in public international law,” says Pandey, a James Kent Scholar. He also completed a fall 2010 externship with the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed him to work closely with Judge Chester Straub.
After graduation, Pandey plans to work on issues related to international trade law and arbitration in a position with the World Trade Organization. He is encouraged by the positive role international organizations can play and continues to be influenced by scenes from his childhood in Nepal. “International organizations are not apolitical—they respond to political forces,” Pandey says. “The ultimate political force, even in today’s world of organized and mechanized politics, lies with the people.”