Professor Edwards’ South Pacific speaking tour follows his recent similar Central and North Asia EducationUSA tour earlier in August, in which he spoke at EducationUSA Advising Centers in Mongolia (Ulaanbaatar), Kyrgyzstan (Bishkek), and Kazakhstan (Almaty).
Professor Edwards stated, “My South Pacific speaking tour and my Central and North Asia speaking tour were similarly insightful and productive. Many local stakeholders in these regions expressed strong interest in studying law at many of our 200 U.S. ABA-accredited law school programs, and otherwise engaging with our many thousands of U.S. law school professors and students. Doors are now open a little further, to benefit students, faculty, law schools, and other law institutions in the U.S. and abroad. This public and people-to-people diplomacy promotes cultural awareness and mutual understanding, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms and human rights. I thank the U.S. Department of State and its affiliated EducationUSA network for facilitating these beneficial undertakings.”
U.S. Consulate – Melbourne
The U.S. Consulate in Melbourne, Australia, was the site of Professor Edwards’ first EducationUSA presentation on his 5-day South Pacific speaking tour. On Monday, 21 August 2017, he was hosted by Ms. Samantha Jackson, who is Coordinator for EducationUSA, based at the Consulate. Professor Edwards’ presentation was titled: Do You Want to Study Law in the United States: What Australians May Want to Know About U.S. Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Other U.S. Law Degree Programs. His co-presenter was Mr. Joseph Scales, who is an Indiana McKinney Juris Doctor (J.D.) student, who is working as a law intern at WEstjustice, a legal aid office in Weribee & Footscray, Australia. Mr. Scales’ placement is through the Indiana McKinney Program in International Human Rights Law, founded by Professor Edwards, that has had over internship 200 placements in 67 countries. The Indiana Law School provides scholarship funding for students’ airfare, housing, food and other expenses.
EducationUSA invited Mr. Scales to return to the U.S. Consulate during his Australian internship to record a video to be placed on the EducationUSA / Consulate website as a resource for Australians interested in studying law in the U.S. Future cooperation and projects include the possibility of podcasts, webinars, and other means for Professor Edwards to convey information to Australians seeking to study law in the U.S.
Also on Monday Professor Edwards delivered a 3 ½-hour lecture at the University of Monash Faculty of Law on the topic of the right to a fair trial under international and domestic law, using the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Military Commissions as a discussion vehicle. This presentation was part of an intensive law course titled “Australians Detained Abroad” taught by Professor Michael Dan Mori, U.S. Marines Lt. Col. (ret), who was defense counsel in the Guantanamo Bay case against Australian David Hicks, who in 2007 was the first person convicted by a U.S. military commission since World War II.
Furthermore, Professor Edwards discussed the confluence, overlap and differences among international human rights law, international humanitarian law (law of war) and international criminal law, as they all relate to the right to a fair trial. He noted that defendants have fair trial rights and interests, but other stakeholders with rights and interests in a fair trial include not only defendants, but also include the prosecution, victims and their families, the judge, the media, the U.S. and international communities, the guard force, non-defendant detainees, witnesses, non-governmental organization (NGO) observers, and others.
The Monash Law Faculty presentation was unrelated to the EducationUSA / Embassy / Consulate presentations in Australia, Fiji and Samoa.
After a long flight from Melbourne with a plane change in Fiji, Professor Edwards arrived at Apia, Samoa, where on Tuesday he confirmed arrangements for his Samoa presentation, at which he was hosted by the following U.S. Embassy officials who attended the presentation: U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires C. “Tony” Greubel; EducationUSA Adviser Sharon Mona; Public Affairs Specialist Dee; and Mr. Myki. Professor Edwards’ presentation was titled: U.S. Law School Education for Students from Samoa (Western Samoa). The presentation was held in an Embassy extension -- the America Corner in the Nelson Mandela Library -- directly across the street from the main Embassy building. The American Corner serves as the EducationUSA Advising Center, and Samoan students are able to use the facility for courses, internet access, and to access volumes of reading materials.
On Wednesday afternoon, following his Samoan Embassy EducationUSA presentation, Professor Edwards was driven to an airstrip 5 minutes from downtown Apia where he boarded a propeller jet for a 30-minute low-flying flight to Pago Pago, American Samoa, where Indiana McKinney law student Luke Purdy interned several years ago through the Program in International Human Rights Law that Professor Edwards founded. Professor Edwards met an American Samoan prosecutor, and they discussed, among other things, legal education and qualifications for the practice of law in American Samoa.
American Samoa is an unincorporated territory of the U.S., as are Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Island.
Planes do not take off or land on these two airstrips if evening is approaching. If a plane is late flying into Apia, it is diverted to the main international airport in Samoa, which is an hour’s drive from Apia. There is no alternative airstrip on American Samoa for late planes to land after dark.
Thursday morning began with Professor Edwards stopping by the U.S. Embassy – Samoa (Apia), de-briefing on his visit to Pago Pago, American Samoa the previous afternoon, and debriefing on the Embassy presentation the previous morning.
After saying farewell to U.S. Embassy Chargé d’Affaires “Tony” Greubel and EducationUSA Adviser Sharon Mona, Professor Edwards embarked on the drive through the Samoa countryside to the main Apia airport, about 60 minutes away.
Professor Edwards flew for over 2 hours from Apia, Samoa to Nadi, Fiji.
Following the faculty / staff presentation, Professor Edwards delivered a lecture to the student body, and to faculty and staff, on the topic of U.S. Legal Education – Prospects, Opportunities and Challenges for Students from Fiji. Ms. Violet P. Taukave discussed with the students resources available at the U.S. Embassy, including the EducationUSA Advising Center, where student from Fiji may go to learn more about studying in the U.S. She spoke about the library reading materials, computers, training courses and other resources available at the U.S. Embassy for students from Fiji to use. She also spoke briefly about student visas for students from Fiji, and about scholarships that might be available, including the Fulbright.
Professor Edwards also met Fiji / former Wall Street lawyer Adrienne Ali, who is opening a civil and human rights non-governmental organization in Suva in October 2017, and discussed, among other things, Indiana McKinney law student interns working at this new organization in 2018.
Just before the official 5-day speaking tour began, within hours after touching down in Melbourne, Australia from the U.S., Professor Edwards visited WEstjustice, a legal aid center hosting Indiana McKinney law student Mr. Joseph Scales as a human rights law intern. While at WEstjustice’s Footscray office, Professor Edwards met Mr. Scales’ supervisors and other WEstjustice staff. Professor Edwards also met Ms. Fionna McLeod, Chief Executive of the Law Society of Australia, which is the national body representing 16 state and territory legal professional bodies as well as Law Firms Australia
Professor Edwards spoke about his 5-day South Pacific speaking tour, saying, “I am excited about the possibility of more U.S. law schools and law professors collaborating with the South Pacific EducationUSA Advising Centers and U.S. Embassies and Consulates I visited in Samoa, Australia and Fiji. We on both sides of the Pacific can learn from exchanges with each other, whether the exchanges involve U.S. law students and professors traveling to the South Pacific, or South Pacific students and professors traveling to the U.S. We all also benefit from electronic and other cooperation that does not involve physical travel.”