28 Mar 2014

PhD Profile: The draw of interdisciplinary research

Clarence Siziba from Zimbabwe has recently arrived in Bern on a scholarship awarded under the academic partnership between the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the World Trade Institute. He is excited to be doing his PhD at WTI where he especially values the skilled faculty members and the interdisciplinary nature of research.

Where are you from and what is your academic background?
I was born and raised in Zimbabwe. I went to university in South Africa, where I obtained an LLB from the University of Fort Hare, East London, and an LLM in International Law and Development from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

What drew you to the WTI?
I am particularly interested in conducting my research at the WTI because of the availability of skilled faculty and a culture of debate around issues in the international political economy space. The interdisciplinarity of research foci was also a major draw card.

What are you writing your thesis on?
The regulation of trade in goods originating in conflict zones in public international law. My research will explore the interplay between international trade, human rights and humanitarian law in relation to trade in goods from conflict areas.

How did you come to hear about the SECO/WTI programme?
I attended the Summer Academy on International Trade Regulation on a scholarship from the SECO capacity building project in developing countries, which is implemented by the World Trade Institute and its partner in South Africa the Mandela Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand. I thereafter applied for a PhD position at the WTI.

How did it feel when you were accepted for the programme?
I was elated! I was excited at the prospect of working at what is arguably the most outstanding Institute in international trade matters.

You have just arrived in Bern. What are your first impressions?
Having been here before, it feels good to be back. However, I will hasten to add that there is a massive difference between being here and knowing you are leaving soon as opposed to being here and knowing you are on a more or less permanent basis. The level of admin is astonishing! The number of things that one has to comply with to live and work in Switzerland is quite high. Nevertheless, I have just about settled in and have come to realise that all these things are necessary for one to live a fulfilling life in Switzerland.