This summer as an intern in The Advocates for Human Rights’ International Justice program, I conducted background research, wrote, and edited reports for human rights review processes including the Universal Periodic Review and UN treaty body country reviews. I wrote summaries of past reports to serve as “landing pages” on the organization website, helped update The Advocates’ human rights tools manual by identifying edits and writing new case summaries, and attended RightsCon and a Tactical Mapping Tool webinar and took notes to be used in the manual’s update. Professionally, I gained experience in condensing a relatively large amount of research into an organized report, and specifically in writing stakeholder, List of Issues, and List of Issues Prior to Reporting reports for UN human rights review mechanisms. I gained experience in editing, as well as working with peers efficiently to complete projects. I learned how civil society organizations conduct advocacy at the UN, and how through this advocacy, they can create concrete change in human rights conditions around the world. I learned more about how UN human rights review processes work, and how countries are motivated to make legislative and other changes to address certain human rights abuses and problems. My main goals at the beginning of the internship were to learn as much as I could about the details of how NGOs conduct human rights advocacy and everything that goes into the process, about what it’s like to work at a human rights advocacy organization, and about human rights issues and conditions in various countries around the world. I now have a substantial understanding of how civil society participates in UN human rights review processes and how they work, what it’s like to be part of an organization that does this kind of advocacy work, and the range of human rights issues that are typically addressed. Personally, I gained an understanding of how one organization, and even one person, can affect concrete change in addressing large-scale human rights issues. Prior to this internship, I didn’t realize the level of impact that one person or a small team could truly have, which can include contributing to the pressure that causes a country to change its laws or causing a new policy to be implemented to protect human rights. My passion for human rights has deepened further because of my experience this summer. I am left with a renewed sense of inspiration and motivation to find the specific areas of human rights that I want to focus on, as well as hope for the possibility of creating effective change – including the small changes over time that end up making a difference.
Sarah Borden, Political Science, PC ’22