Meet Our New Faculty | Dr. Harisankar K Sathyapalan
May 23, 2023
We are pleased to welcome Dr. Harisankar K. Sathyapalan who has recently joined us as Associate Professor of Law. Prior to joining NLSIU, he was an Assistant Professor at the School of Legal Studies, Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT). Previously, he has taught at National Law University, Jodhpur, and Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur. He is also a Research Fellow with the Centre for Public Policy Research (CPPR), Kochi.
His research interests include international economic law and maritime law with a focus on international arbitration, and he has published in reputed journals in the field.
We asked him to share more about his interests and his work.
1. Can you tell us more about yourself and your background?
I have had a diverse and enriching educational journey that has shaped my passion for law and academia. Born and raised in a picturesque village in Kerala, I completed my schooling and university in my home state. I obtained my undergraduate degrees in Science and Law from two renowned institutions in Kochi – Sacred Heart College and the His Highness Maharajas Government Law College. Subsequently, I pursued advanced studies earning a Master of Laws degree from the Indian Law Institute, Delhi.
I had the privilege of starting my academic career at the Hidayatullah National Law University, where I could contribute to the legal education of bright young minds. Following this brief stint in Raipur (C.G.), I had the incredible opportunity to join the National Law University, Jodhpur, which honed my skills as a legal educator and provided some invaluable experience as an academic entrepreneur. During my time there, I was able to spearhead the establishment of a research centre in arbitration law, CARTAL, and its flagship journal, the Indian Journal of Arbitration Law (IJAL). Eager to expand my horizons further, I pursued a PhD programme at the National University Singapore (NUS) law school as a fully funded graduate research scholar. After completing my doctorate, I returned to my hometown and taught at the postgraduate law department of a renowned science and technology university, CUSAT, for nearly five years.
Beyond the realm of academia, I am a deviant practitioner of yoga and meditation. I also have a strong passion for outdoor activities such as cycling and swimming, which help me find balance and inspiration in my life.
2. What are your main areas of interest and teaching? How did your interest in these areas begin?
My primary areas of interest and teaching revolve around international economic law and dispute settlement, focusing on international arbitration. These branches of law have captivated my interest for many reasons, ranging from their complex and evolving nature to their significant impact on the global economy and international relations.
My fascination with international economic law was kindled during my early academic years as I started reading about the interplay between economic forces and legal frameworks in shaping the dynamics of international trade and investment. Further engagements with some brilliant colleagues and students in the early years of my teaching encouraged me to delve deeper into the realm of arbitration, which eventually helped me write my doctoral thesis on the interactions between international commercial and investment arbitration. Furthermore, growing up close to a coastal region, I witnessed first-hand the significance of international trade and the complexities surrounding shipping operations. This exposure sparked my curiosity in understanding the legal frameworks governing the oceans with respect to both the private and public international law regimes of oceans, such as admiralty law and the international law of the sea. In particular, I am interested in exploring the geopolitical and geoeconomic developments in the Indian Ocean and beyond, and its linkages with international law.
3. Tell us more about what you will be teaching at NLS.
In the current term, I am co-teaching a course on Alternative Dispute Resolution, specifically some essential areas of Indian arbitration law to the 3rd year students of the BA LLB (Hons) programme. For the next academic year, I look forward to teaching courses relating to international (private and public) law in general and international economic law in particular.
Besides, I plan to develop and offer elective courses on investment law, arbitration, and international law of the sea. These areas would provide the students with a deep understanding of the legal regimes that profoundly impact global economic governance.
4. Your thoughts on starting your teaching journey at NLS? What are your plans ahead?
Teaching at the National Law School is a great privilege for two main reasons. Firstly, the prospect of sharing my knowledge and insights with the country’s bright, aspiring legal minds. Secondly, being a part of the NLS faculty offers access to exceptional resources and networks. I look forward to collaborating with my colleagues who are experts in their fields. As I am familiar with the NLU culture, I can also understand challenges that may come with it, and am eager to adapt to this new environment here at NLS quickly.
5. Could you tell us about your key projects or publications?
I have worked on many important projects throughout my career. The overarching theme of my research after PhD has been to examine the interplay between international commercial arbitration, national courts, and investment treaty arbitration. Of late, I have started looking at the meaning of the use of the term ‘rules-based order’ by different countries and its relationship with the international ‘rule of law.’ This work spilt out from a paper I presented at the Asian Society of International Law conference last year, which looked at the diverging approaches taken by the regional powers, namely India and China, in respecting (or disrespecting) international law. I am also working towards completing an article accepted for a special issue in the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law on the ocean-climate nexus from an international investment law context.
View more of his publications on his faculty page.