ILHR Fellows Share their Experiences with International Fieldwork

Evan Alston, Class of 2016

Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC), Johannesburg, South Africa

“SALC works to defend human rights and the rule of law around Southern Africa by employing advocacy, impact litigation, and support for local NGOs in Southern African countries, among other tools. While at SALC, I worked on memos for each of the lawyers. Generally, they needed help either in researching a certain set of facts or crafting a legal argument based on human rights precedent. The experience made me much likelier to spend time in the public interest sector earlier in my career. It also influenced the sort of international pro bono work I would seek to do in the private sector.”

ILHR Fellow Sam Burke (LL.M 2014, far right) with members of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy in Tsumkwe, Namibia, during his 2014 internship at the Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek.

ILHR Fellow Sam Burke (LL.M 2014, far right) with members of the N≠a Jaqna Conservancy in Tsumkwe, Namibia, during his 2014 internship at the Legal Assistance Centre, Windhoek.

Sam Burke, LL.M 2014

Legal Assistance Centre (LAC), Windhoek, Namibia

“LAC’s main objective is to protect the human rights of all Namibians. It is the only organization of its kind in Namibia. As an ILHR fellow, I worked for three teams. For the gender team’s upcoming publication on LGBTI rights, I wrote a chapter about how different laws can be used to protect the LGBTI community from hate speech. For the land rights team, I handled the day-to-day management of a litigated claim involving an indigenous conservancy and a mining company. I also helped plan a workshop aimed at capacity-building for Namibia’s national representative body for indigenous people. For the AIDS law unit, I assisted their community outreach officer in conceiving of how to talk to vulnerable groups (including sex-workers and the LGBTI community) about their human rights, and about demanding and enforcing those rights. I am staying on as a consultant with LAC’s land rights team. The work directly fits in with my interest in extractives, indigenous peoples, environmental law, development, and land rights. There is a lot of opportunity for applied experiences and I am greatly looking forward to it.”

Anna Jay, Class of 2015

Human Rights Law Network, New Delhi, India

“I worked on a project to prepare for an Independent People’s Tribunal (IPT) to assess the rights situation of nomadic and ex-criminal tribes (nomadic tribes and denotified tribes, or NT-DNTs) in Maharashtra in central India. My work included conducting research on the legal status of NT-DNTs and drafting a comprehensive report with legislative and policy recommendations, designing a multi-indicator questionnaire to assess the situation of NT-DNT women, and collecting testimony and evident from victims of rights violations in the field. I went on two field trips, one to Mumbai and one to rural Maharashtra. I will be carrying my internship experience forward to writing a paper on these tribes, perhaps looking into whether their socioeconomic requirements can be adequately met using the existing legal framework (that of social and economic rights and race/caste-based discrimination), or if a different framework (such as indigenous peoples’ rights) would better address their unique sociocultural position.”

 

ILHR Fellow John Washington (Class of 2016, far right) with UNHCR staff and members of the National Eligibility Commission of Senegal, during his 2014 internship at UNHCR Dakar, Senegal.

ILHR Fellow John Washington (Class of 2016, far right) with UNHCR staff and members of the National Eligibility Commission of Senegal, during his 2014 internship at UNHCR Dakar, Senegal.

John Washington, Class of 2016

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Dakar, Senegal

“UNHCR is a large UN Agency that assists refugees, and internally displaced and stateless persons. The West Africa Region’s Protection unit works with national-level UNHCR offices, countries in the region and other partners to better protect these persons throughout the region. One of my contributions to the work was helping write the office’s position paper on a country in the region’s proposed bill to create a new system for asylum seekers. I also did a training of Senegal’s National Eligibility Commission (whose members determine the status of asylum seekers in Senegal) and relevant partners, such as the UN division of Senegal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. My portion of the training was on mens rea and individual criminal responsibility in international law, and their applicability in excluding asylum seekers from refugee protections. The internship was an amazing way to learn how the protections in international refugee law are given force, and to learn it with the support of extremely smart and warm people.”

Amy Zajac, Class of 2016

Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), San José, Costa Rica

“CEJIL is a non-governmental, non-profit organization that offers advice and free legal representation to victims of human rights abuses – and to organizations that defend their causes – when justice proves impossible to achieve in their own countries. I compiled case law, wrote memos and executive summaries and analyzed cases going before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights or the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. I also analyzed discovery from an indigenous rights case, then briefed my corresponding layer and advised on whether or not CEJIL should continue with representation. If you have a great understanding of Spanish, then the work is incredibly interesting. You dive into the Inter-American system right from the state and cover a number of topics. My interest in human rights, with a particular focus on Latin America, has only grown through this internship.”

ILHR Fellow Marzieh Tofighi Darian (LL.M 2013, on right) with ILC Commissioner Marie Jacobsson of Sweden during Marizieh's 2013 internship at the International Law Commission in Geneva, Switzerland

ILHR Fellow Marzieh Tofighi Darian (LL.M 2013, on right) with ILC Commissioner Marie Jacobsson of Sweden during Marizieh’s 2013 internship at the International Law Commission in Geneva, Switzerland

Marzieh Tofighi Darian, LL.M 2013

International Law Commission, Geneva, Switzerland

“I had the opportunity to work with a great Commissioner which made this internship unique for me. And being in an environment and hearing legal debates about very sensitive and important topics from knowledgeable persons in the field of international law taught me a lot. I was interested in international law before the internship but this experience helped me to have a more realistic view of a career in this field. I am sure what I learned both in substance and how Commissioners work and interact will be useful in my future legal career.”

ILHR Fellow Bianca Isaias (Class of 2015) in her office during her 2013 internship at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Amman, Jordan.

ILHR Fellow Bianca Isaias (Class of 2015) in her office during her 2013 internship at the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Amman, Jordan.

Bianca Isaias, Class of 2015

UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Amman, Jordan

“The experience of working with UNHCR in Jordan was incredibly rewarding, providing huge insight into refugee law, international criminal law, international humanitarian law, and international human rights law. I was in close contact with young lawyers from all around the world who shared their experiences working in their own countries and internationally, as well as with persons working in the camps who spoke of the conditions and challenges there. UNHCR does important work that directly impacts people’s lives.  I was extremely lucky to work in its Amman office, not only because of the work I did, but also because of the incredibly intelligent, professional and friendly people I had the opportunity to work with and learn from.”

Noah Lawrence, Class of 2014

Association for Civil Rights in Israel, Tel Aviv, Israel

“I had a wonderful internship at ACRI: substantive research and writing assignments, with concrete opportunities to work for legal and social change; the warmest set of co-workers and supervisors I’ve ever had the privilege to work with, bar none; and an enriching and inspiring experience living in Israel. I would highly recommend this internship to anyone who is looking to spend a summer using the law to serve the causes of justice, civil rights, and human rights.”

ILHR Fellow Rebecca Riddell (Class of 2015, 3rd from left) with colleagues during her 2013 internship with the Zhicheng Public Interest Law Firm in Beijing, China.

Rebecca Riddell, Class of 2015

Zhicheng Public Interest Law Firm/ Beijing Migrant Workers Legal Aid and Research Center, Beijing, China

“I found my internship to be an incredibly thought-provoking and rewarding experience. Every day was an education in the challenges faced by workers’ rights litigators in Beijing, and in the growth of a dynamic Chinese NGO. Because I am interested the role of claims-making in improving global working conditions, this was an especially valuable experience. It gave me a lot of food for thought as far as barriers to improving labor rights and working conditions, and the staff could not have been more helpful in answering every question I put to them.”

ILHR Fellow Matthew Simon (Class of 2014) with colleagues on a visit to the South African Constitutional Court during is 2013 internship with the Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Matthew Simon, Class of 2014

Constitutional Litigation Unit of the Legal Resources Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa

“The South African Constitution contains extremely progressive language, but, to this day, many provisions remain relatively untested and implementation lags far behind its promises. In this environment, public interest attorneys, including those at the LRC, are playing a major role in progressively developing the Constitution and shaping the future of South Africa. Interning at the LRC’s Constitutional Litigation Unit was a unique opportunity to engage with these exciting and developing areas of South African law and assist in cases being argued as high as the Constitutional Court, an experience I would likely not have received in an internship in the United States.”

Amy Wolfe, Class of 2015

Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Dhaka

“BLAST’s aim is to make the Bangladeshi legal system just and accessible to the poor and marginalised, especially women and children. Their approach is comprehensive in that it involves direct legal aid services (including mediation services) coupled with reform initiatives, both inside and outside the legal system. The BLAST staff is positively delightful and they are one of the most respected NGO’s in Bangladesh. Working there opened many doors and provided me with incredible opportunities I never would have had if I had worked for a different organization. In this regard, my experience was very rich indeed.”

ILHR Fellow Amy Wolfe (Class of 2015, 4th from left) with a litigant and his family outside a village court in Madaripur, Bangladesh during Wolfe’s 2013 internship at the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust in Dhaka.