The following is a list of a few well-known international organizations—both governmental and non-governmental—that promote the implementation of human rights in its many forms throughout the world. Generally, it is extremely competitive to obtain internships from these organizations but if you feel you are sufficiently qualified, they also could offer one of the best learning experiences of your life.
Amnesty International USA
322 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY 10001
Phone: (212) 807-8400
Language: Depends on placement
There are a variety of human rights internships offered through Amnesty International in different regions of the U.S. or abroad. Because vacancies often get filled or become available, internships are listed on the website rather than in this description. All internships are unpaid; however, daily commuting expenses may be reimbursed depending on the area where you are working. Amnesty International offers flexible hours to accommodate class/work schedules. Internships are granted for a three month period, but longer commitments are encouraged. They seek interns who: Possess strong written and verbal communication skills; Are capable of taking on significant responsibility; Are familiar with AI and human rights issues; Work well as part of a team as well as independently. See the following page of their website for specific internships and application requirements
Human Rights Watch offers academic semester and summer internships for undergraduate and graduate students in its U.S. offices as well as abroad. Graduate interns monitor human rights developments in various countries, draft reports on human rights conditions, and engage in advocacy efforts aimed at curtailing human rights violations. Undergraduate internships are primarily administrative and clerical in nature, but other projects can be assigned as they arise and match the student's interests and abilities, including research, drafting documents, translating, and helping researchers prepare for missions. Internships are generally unpaid, although work-study funds are available. Academic credit can usually be arranged, as HRW internships offer direct exposure to the workings of an international human rights organization, close supervision by the HRW staff, interaction with other U.S. and international organizations and foreign and domestic government officials, and opportunities to attend lectures and special events relating to human rights. Applicants should be well-organized, self-motivated and reliable, with a strong interest in international human rights; relevant coursework highly desirable; foreign languages a plus. Computer literacy (i.e., WP6.1, FileMakerPro, Internet, etc.) required. Interested students should submit their resume, writing sample, references and cover letter directly to the above address. See the following page on their website for current intern/volunteer vacancies:
International Labour Organization (ILO)
4, route des Morillons, CH-1211 Geneva 22, Switzerland
Phone: (41-22) 799-6820
Language: Proficient in at least one of the following: English, French or Spanish
The Internship Programme was introduced into the ILO in 1990. Each year the Office receives approximately 130 under-graduate or post-graduate students for professional work. Interns are assigned either to ILO Headquarters or ILO Field Offices. Assignments vary greatly in terms of content and of the intern's profile. Every attempt is made to match the interests of the intern with the need of the Organization.The internship assignment varies in length according to the intern’s availability, qualifications as well as for the needs of the ILO. However, internships should have a duration of at least one month as a certain amount of time is required for learning, in order to understand the work of the ILO and training. In agreement with the Department with which the intern would be working, assignments could be carried out on a full-time basis (40 hours per week) or a part-time basis (20 hours per week) throughout the year. Interns must be at least 20 years of age but younger than 35. Intern vacancies change often so to find current opportunities go directly to the above website. Application deadlines, as well as the form, are also listed on the website. Mail the application form to the above address if applying for a position in Geneva or to the corresponding address of the country in which you wish to work—those addresses are found on the website.
Human Rights First (formerly the Lawyers Committee for Human Rights) welcomes a limited number of interns throughout the year. Positions are available in Program as well as Development, Communications, Administration and Finance. During the academic year, interns commit to 10 – 12 hours a week. During the summer most interns work full time. Often, when computers and workstations are fully committed, interns will work from their own laptops or off-site at libraries etc. The internships are open to students currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate university as well as law school students. Intern projects include research, web work, writing, and some administrative tasks. Interns are encouraged to attend program and staff meetings. The summer intern program includes a series of ‘brown bag’ lunches on subjects of interest developed by the interns. Staff and guest speakers are invited. Once again, vacancies for internships frequently change so please go to the website for specific openings. To apply, e-mail resume and two letters of recommendation to the above address. Application deadline is February 1, 2005.
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Internship Programme - Internship Coordinator - Administrative Section
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland
Language: See requirements listed in description
Internships for graduate students are available at the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). These internships are intended to:
a) increase the intern's understanding of current human rights issues at the international level and give them an insight into the work of the United Nations and OHCHR in particular; and
b) provide OHCHR and the United Nations Human Rights mechanisms with the assistance and contribution of outstanding young students or graduates. Unless specifically contemplated under an agreement between OHCHR and an academic institution, internships are for a minimum period of three months and may be renewed once for a further three-month period. The maximum duration of internships at OHCHR is six months. Applicants must be sponsored by an academic institution and must have a good command of at least two of the six official languages of the United Nations, i.e. English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian and Chinese. Drafting ability in either English or French is required. Current openings are listed on the website as well as the application form and corresponding deadline.
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Case Postale 2500, CH-1211 Genève 2 Dépôt, Suisse
Phone: (41-22) 739-8111
Email: Send electronically on website
Internships at UNHCR are on an on-going basis and are offered throughout the year for a minimum of 2 months and a maximum of six months, depending on the availability of meaningful assignments and the needs and capacity of units/offices to receive and supervise interns. There is no deadline for sending in your application form. Internships can be offered at Headquarters and family duty stations in the Field. In the application form, you should indicate your preferred country of work. However, many of their offices do not provide internships on a regular basis and they often work in conditions which preclude the possibility of internships. For security reasons some offices cannot provide internships. Most interns work on a project which will benefit both them and UNHCR, in fields such as refugee protection (legal), international relations, administration, field work, etc. Find current internship opportunities and apply on their website.
United Nations Foundation
Intern Administrator, 1301 Connecticut Avenue NW, Suite 700, Washington, D.C. 20036,
Phone: (202) 887-9040
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; send applications to email@example.com
Salary: A variety of both paid and unpaid internships
The United Nations Foundation (UNF) and the Better World Fund (BWF) were established in 1998 to administer Ted Turner's unprecedented gift of $1 billion in the service of global causes. UNF exists to promote the well-being of the global population, the responsible stewardship and preservation of the world's climate and essential ecosystems, the protection of human rights, and peaceful coexistence by strengthening the United Nations as a vehicle for promoting international cooperation. To achieve its objectives, UNF provides grants to UN agencies, funds, and programs for work in the areas of population, children's health, the environment, and peace, security, and human rights. BWF complements the work of UNF through support of selected programs designed to strengthen the relationship between the United States and the United Nations.
UNF hosts a semester long internship program during the Fall, Spring, and Summer school sessions. The UNF offers full and part-time paid and unpaid internships. The number of each kind of internship offered will depend on the needs of the various program areas. Intern duties and responsibilities will vary according to the assignment. Applicants should be enrolled in a degree-granting program in an undergraduate or graduate school during the internship. Candidates who are interested in an internship at the United Nations Foundation must apply by June 15 for Summer, August 1 for Autumn, and December 1 for Spring semester internships; Send a cover letter addressed to the Intern Administrator specifying your interest in one of the intern opportunities listed above; Include a current résumé or curriculum vitae; and Write a short essay of no more than one-half page stating your purpose for obtaining this internship. Current vacancies are listed on their website.
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF)
UNICEF House, 3 United Nations Plaza, New York, New York 10017
Phone: (212) 326-7000
Language: English AND either French OR Spanish
Internships are offered to graduate or post-graduate students enrolled in a field related to international or social development, child survival or development or management. Interns will be accepted for a minimum period of 6 weeks and a maximum of 16 weeks and will do a variety of tasks depending on site and need. As the need for interns vary and is on-going throughout the year, there are no specific periods or deadlines for applications. If you would like to do an internship within a specific time frame, you must e-mail your application (found on the website) at least 2-3 months in advance to the above address. For information on the availability of volunteer opportunities go to UNICEF.
United Nations Development Programme
Address and phone numbers listed on website according to country
Email: Send electronically on website
Language: Fluency in at least two of the following: English, French, Spanish
The United Nations Development Programme is the United Nations largest provider of grant funding for development, and the main body for coordinating UN development assistance. The Internship Programme offers a small group of outstanding graduate-level students the opportunity to acquire direct exposure to UNDP's work. It is designed to complement development-oriented studies with practical experience in various aspects of multilateral technical cooperation, but also complements other international studies, including law. Interns are assigned to either a UNDP country office or the organization's Headquarters in New York. Assignments vary greatly in terms of content. They may have a country-specific, regional, sectoral, or thematic focus. However, interns are normally involved in some aspect of the design, implementation and evaluation of UNDP-supported programmes and projects. Interns with a background in international legal studies are normally involved in the legal aspects and arrangements governing UNDP's technical cooperation activities. Every attempt is made to match the interests of the intern with the needs of the organization. Internship assignments vary in length according to the availability and academic requirements of the intern, as well as the needs of UNDP. Assignments are available on a part-time and full-time basis throughout the year. Find current availability and apply at the following page of their website.
United Nations Population Fund (UNPF)
220 East, 42nd Street, 18th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10017
Phone: (212) 297-5359
Language: English but fluency in Arabic, French or Spanish an asset
UNFPA offers the Summer Internship programme to a small group of outstanding graduate students so that they have the opportunity to acquire direct exposure to UNFPA operations. It is designed to complement development-oriented studies with practical experience in various aspects of technical assistance. Applicants interested in participating in UNFPA's Summer Internship Programme must submit a resume along with a brief statement describing your interests and reasons for wishing to participate in the Programme. Applications may be submitted by mail, or by e-mail at the above addresses. You may also fill out and submit the On-Line Application Form or download the form for filling out later. Because needs frequently change, go to their website to find the current internships being offered.
United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM)
Chief, HR/Administration, Internship Programme UNIFEM, 304 East 45th Street, Room FF-1535, New York, NY 10017
Phone: (212) 906-6400
Language: English and fluency in either Spanish or French or language of the country in which you are placed
Applicants for the Internship Programme must be enrolled in a graduate level degree programme. Exceptions are made for undergraduate students only if they are enrolled in a master's degree programme. Only those students who will return to their studies upon completion of their internship assignments are eligible. There is no deadline for application submission however, applications should be received at least three months prior to the anticipated internship. Timing for internships is flexible and can be at any time in the year. The internship can be for a maximum of a year or a minimum of 6 weeks. Applicants for internships in UNIFEM/New York should mail a cover letter stating exact dates of availability and the main focus/interests, a resume, and the application form (found on their website) to the above address. Applicants for internships in UNIFEM's Regional Offices should send their applications directly to those offices. Listing of UNIFEM's country offices, as well as available positions, can be located on the website.
WHO internships provide an opportunity for students to participate in the work of the Organization and to expand their knowledge and understanding of WHO's goals, policies and activities. No financial assistance is available from WHO. The majority of students are placed in health-related programmes, although there are very limited opportunities in general administrative areas such as translation. For information on opportunities in regional or country offices please contact the appropriate regional office. Students must be following a course of study leading to a formal qualification, generally in a health-related field, although other disciplines may be considered as appropriate. Minimum age is 18 years, no maximum age limit. Normally, minimum duration is six weeks, maximum three months. Students are required to submit their request in writing, if possible at least three months in advance. Written applications (not e-mail) should be submitted directly to the location whose activities correspond to the student's background and interests. Specific needs and availability are listed on the website.