Skip Navigation LinksHome > The Curriculum > Externships > Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The Office spearheads the United Nations' human rights efforts by offering leadership, working objectively, educating, and taking action to empower individuals and assist States in upholding human rights.

OHCHR works to ensure the enforcement of universally recognized human rights norms, including through promoting both the universal ratification and implementation of the major human rights treaties and respect for the rule of law.Students may be placed in one of the three following units:

Human Rights Treaties Division (Section I)

While the OHCHR Human Rights Treaties Division supports the work of all the nine core human rights treaty bodies, Section I in particular supports the work of the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR); the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and the Committee against Torture (CAT). In addition to organizing sessions, this involves the preparation of country briefs, drafting of lists of issues, of draft recommendations and decisions on individual complaints, supporting follow-up procedures, and organizing meetings of States Parties as well as with other stakeholders.

Nature of the Extern's Work and Supervision

During the proposed duration of the internship, the intern will primarily be assigned to assist the Section with its work on providing support to the UN Treaty Bodies. However, given the size of the Section and the overwhelming demands placed upon it, tasks may be largely based on current demands and needs. Tasks may include:

  • Conduct legal research, analysis and writing on various human rights issues, including communications to the UN treaty bodies, decisions on individual communications, periodic State reports, concluding observations and recommendations of the treaty bodies, as well as reports and submissions by national and international NGOs.
  • Assist in preparing and following treaty body sessions and other meetings as necessary.
  • Liaise with treaty body members.
  • Undertake any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

(The Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on any of his/her particular interests within the work of the Section - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

Important Information for Students

Participants in the internship programme are selected from graduate students and holders of graduate level degrees in disciplines related to the work of the United Nations, e.g. International Law, Political Science, History, Social Sciences. Preference will be given to those, within these disciplines, who have specialized in human rights issues. A course in international human rights law is required. Excellent writing skills in English are a prerequisite, and advanced knowledge of French and/or Spanish is a strong asset. The applicant should be able to work autonomously but also within a team, often under pressure of frequent and tight deadlines. Demonstrated political judgment and discretion are essential. The selection of the extern shall be subject to regular OHCHR procedures.

Rule of Law and Democracy Unit

The aim of the Rule of Law and Democracy Section (ROLDS) is to address key challenges in human rights protection, such as armed conflict and violence, impunity, democratic deficit, and weak institutions, through the elaboration of approaches leading to greater country engagement to be pursued through work on the rule of law. The Section's outputs include:

Legal analysis and comments on draft laws and technical advice on how such legislation can be strengthened to fully respect human rights.

Operational tools, best practices, concept papers, guidance notes, and legal advice to support justice and accountability initiatives.

Support and coordination of OHCHR's lead responsibilities in the rule of law and democracy area pursuant to the Policy Committee decisions, including on transitional justice and investigations, and within the framework of the Secretary General's Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

NATURE OF EXTERN'S WORK AND SUPERVISION

The extern will assist, under the general supervision of the Chief of Section, in the work of Human Rights Officers responsible for one or more of the thematic areas of access to justice and the role of courts in human rights protection, transitional justice, counter-terrorism and human rights, accountability, democracy, and administrative legal issues. Tasks may include:

  • Conducting legal research, analysis and writing on various rule of law and democracy issues from human rights perspective, including analyses of the outputs of UN mechanisms such as Human Right Council reports, treaty bodies, special procedures as well as reports by national and international NGOs.
  • Assisting in preparing expert workshops and consultations on relevant rule of law and democracy issues.
  • Assisting in the development of guidance materials and other tools.
  • Liaising with OHCHR field officers working on rule of law and democracy issues.
  • Following sessions of the Human Rights Council, treaty bodies and meetings of special procedures and other partners, as necessary.
  • Any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

(This Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on his/her particular interests - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

Important Information for Students

Participants in the internship programme are selected from graduate students and holders of graduate level degrees in disciplines related to the work of the United Nations, e.g. International Law, Political Science, History, Social Sciences. Preference will be given to those, within these disciplines, who have specialized in human rights issues. A course in international human rights law is required. Excellent writing skills in English are a prerequisite, and advanced knowledge of French and/or Spanish is a strong asset. The applicant should be able to work autonomously but also within a team, often under pressure of frequent and tight deadlines. Demonstrated political judgment and discretion are essential. The selection of the extern shall be subject to regular OHCHR procedures.

Women's Human Rights and Gender Unit

The Women's Human Rights and Gender Unit (WRGU) was established in early 2007 with a mandate focused on the promotion and protection of women's human rights as well as gender mainstreaming. The Section develops and supports the High Commissioner leadership on gender and women's rights, produces thematic reports, statements, and tools pertaining to women's rights and gender, and conducts training, capacity-building, and briefings in these areas. The Section also facilitates dialogue among stakeholders, and develops a network of experts and NGOs in order to leverage expertise and advance the women's human rights agenda.

NATURE OF EXTERN'S WORK AND SUPERVISION

The extern will primarily be assigned to assist the Section with its work on women's human rights and gender equality. Tasks may include:

  • Preparatory work for the development of policies and reports on the human rights of women and gender equality.
  • Conducting research and analysis on the outputs of the UN mechanisms, including Human Rights Council reports, treaty bodies, special procedures and national and international NGOs.
  • Assist in organizing meetings as necessary, including with the Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteurs, treaty bodies and other partners.
  • Any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

(The Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on any of his/her particular interests - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

Important Information for Students

Participants in the internship programme are selected from graduate students and holders of graduate level degrees in disciplines related to the work of the United Nations, e.g. International Law, Political Science, History, Social Sciences. Preference will be given to those, within these disciplines, who have specialized in human rights issues. A course in international human rights law is required. Excellent writing skills in English are a prerequisite, and advanced knowledge of French and/or Spanish is a strong asset. The applicant should be able to work autonomously but also within a team, often under pressure of frequent and tight deadlines. Demonstrated political judgment and discretion are essential. The selection of the extern shall be subject to regular OHCHR procedures.

To learn more about the OHCHR, please visit their website.

 
Michigan Law Wordmark Print View