I Want to Work in ...... Human Rights
- General background
- Sites with listings of internships and voluntary opportunities
- Work in Human Rights law firms
- Other organisations specialising in Human Rights law
- Postgraduate Study in Human Rights
Human Rights is emerging as an employment sector in its own right, but does not as yet have clear career entry points, routes and structure.
Opportunities may arise in central and local government bodies; international governmental and non-governmental organisations; charities, pressure groups and campaigning organisations; academia and law.
There is a huge variety of roles, including research, marketing, public relations, fundraising, finance, investigation, administration, lobbying and education.
Whatever role you are interested in, and whatever your qualifications, getting into Human Rights work is highly competitive. You will need to have relevant experience, which is generally gained on a voluntary basis, through internships or other involvement with a human rights organisation.
“People who work in human rights aren't bleeding heart liberals. You have to be resilient and realistic or you can't get anything done. You have to keep plugging away and be prepared for disappointments.
"The more people who go into the human rights field, the better. Anyone can get into human rights from any field and find their niche”.
Sara MacNeice , campaigns co-ordinator for Amnesty International.
Human Rights Careers Forum www.careers.lon.ac.uk/output/Page651.asp
Five Human Rights professionals discuss their own careers and offer advice on getting into this area of work. From a forum held at SOAS in March 2006. Listen to audio recordings from the event below (you will need an MP3 player installed). The sectors are: Policy & Research - Bail for immigration detainees; Grant Making - Sigrid Rausing Trust ; Research - Amnesty International; Campaigning – Survival; Solicitor - Pierce Glynn
Getting an Internship in International Human Rights:
- Amnesty International www.amnesty.org.uk
We have about 130 staff working in a wide range of roles from campaigning to marketing and from finance to human resources. We run a volunteer programme in our offices in London , Edinburgh , Belfast and Cardiff . Volunteers are involved in a lot of different roles in campaigning, marketing, media and general support. Volunteers are asked to commit for at least three months.
- Human Rights Watch www.hrw.org
“We frequently have openings for human rights researchers, field investigators, and advocates, either based in our New York headquarters or in one of our other offices around the world. We also hire administrative support staff, managers and directors for our regional and thematic divisions and senior management staff, and communications, fundraising and operations staff.
Recent graduates usually fill administrative positions, but for professional positions, most of our research staff come to us with at least several years of experience, including varied experience and skills in international human rights investigation, reporting, and activism. Typically for professional positions we seek related graduate-level coursework, NGO or non-profit work or internship experience, field experience, research and communications skills, international exposure, relevant language fluency, good judgment, and organizational and interpersonal skills. Building your resume with as many of these qualifications as possible is a good way to enhance your suitability for a job at HRW.
All full-time staff vacancies are posted on our website for a minimum of 30 days. The best way to learn how to prepare yourself for a job at Human Rights Watch is to check the "Qualifications" or "Requirements" sections of our job postings.
- Liberty www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk – human rights and civil liberties organisation.
We lobby Parliament, exposing laws that undermine civil liberties and human rights, and working with politicians to correct them.
We challenge unjust laws, by taking test cases to English and the European courts and we provide advice to the public, voluntary sector organisations and lawyers through three specialist advice lines, letters clinics and our specialist advice website, www.YourRights.org.uk
- One World www.oneworld.net “
We aim to provide the UK 's best online coverage of human rights and sustainable development”. The site includes listings of opportunities from UK organisations to volunteer in the UK or overseas
- Amicus www.amicus-alj.org
UK charity which aims to help provide legal representation for those awaiting capital trial and punishment in the US and raise awareness of potential abuses of their rights. Offers internships in the USA and as caseworkers in the UK . Interns range from law postgraduates through to experienced barristers and solicitors and some non-lawyers
- British Institute of Human Rights www.bihr.org
An independent charity based in London which raises awareness and understanding about the importance of human rights. “We run events about contemporary human rights issues throughout the year, and provide human rights training and other practical tools to organisations which represent or provide public services to socially excluded and disadvantaged groups. BIHR conducts research and develops policy about human rights and their potential to help tackle problems of social and economic exclusion”.
- Derechos Human Rights www.derechos.org
Works for the respect and promotion of human rights throughout the world. Our work includes the socialization of human rights related information and analysis through the internet and other media, the promotion of prosecutions of human rights violators and the support of local human rights NGOs and activists.
The site includes an excellent set of Human Rights links to NGOs, directories, international organisations and volunteering opportunities. Look in 'Resources & Tools' for internship and jobs sites.
- FIDH www.fidh.org
Federation Internationale des ligues des Droits de l'Homme ( International Federation for Human rights)
- The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute
offers unpaid internships to undergraduate and postgraduate law students and to graduates. To download a pdf containing all the information on these internships please go to www.ibanet.org/education/Internships.cfm
- Islamic Human Rights Commission www.ihrc.org.uk
Research, campaign and advocacy organisation, offering undergraduate and graduate internships. Graduate interns will mainly research and monitor human rights developments in various countries, draft and / or assist in drafting reports on human rights conditions, and engage in lobbying and advocacy efforts aimed at stopping abuse and changing policy. Undergraduate internships are primarily administrative and clerical in nature, but project-work can be assigned in accordance with the student's interests and abilities e.g. research, drafting documents, translating, and helping researchers.
- Peace Brigades International www.peacebrigades.org
Promotes non-violent peace-building solutions in situations of violent conflict and repression, offering unarmed protective accompaniment to individuals, organisations, and communities threatened with violence and human rights abuses. “We are always looking for volunteers”.
- Redress www.redress.org
Recruits legal interns to work on a variety of assignments related to seeking reparation for torture survivors
- Rights and Humanity www.rightsandhumanity.org
Liverpool-based organisation which promotes respect for human rights as a foundation for global economic and social justice and human development. Interns are typically involved in activities such as: researching issues related to human rights, development, health, globalisation and conflict; drafting reports for international organisations or for conferences; and assistance to programme activities
- Survival www.survivalinternational.org
Works for tribal peoples' rights in three complementary ways: education, advocacy and campaigns. Offers internships and recruits volunteers in all departments, including press, publications, campaigns, outreach and administration. Help is particularly needed with routine clerical work such as photocopying, data entry, and helping with mailings. This may sound unexciting, but is vital to the smooth-running of the organisation!
- The Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture www.freedomfromtorture.org the only UK organisation dedicated solely to the treatment of torture survivors. Offers medical consultation, examination and forensic documentation of injuries, psychological treatment, and practical support. Works to educate the public and decision makers about torture and its consequences, and carries out advocacy work.
- United Nations Human Rights page www.un.org/rights
- Human Rights Internet www.hri.ca
Canadian-based online resource, information and documentation centre for human rights actors and organizations, as well as interested individuals, around the world.
- List of Human Rights resources http://bubl.ac.uk/link/h/humanrights.htm
- Human Rights Web www.hrweb.org
Resources page lists human rights organizations, other organizations doing substantial amounts of human rights work, and resources for human rights activists and researchers
- Do-It www.do-it.org.uk - search for volunteer opportunities in Human and Civil Rights by geographical location in the UK .
- www.idealist.org - over 56,000 not-for-profit and community organisations in 165 countries, which you can search or browse by name, location, or mission for volunteer opportunities, jobs and internships.
The Human Rights Act has resulted in some very high profile and specialist cases. However many firms have long worked in the field of civil liberties which covers a very broad range of work, such as discrimination, actions against the police, mental health etc and can overlap with other areas, such as immigration, employment etc.
Human Rights is a niche field and highly competitive to get into. Students will need to show a commitment to this area by involvement with related organisations, usually through voluntary work with organisations who work in this area. A postgraduate degree in Human Rights law may also be helpful (see below).
As the Law Society requires trainee solicitors to gain experience in at least three areas of law, you cannot specialise in Human Rights from the beginning of your legal career. When applying for training contracts it helps to be as flexible as possible.
Few firms specialising in Human Rights law will recruit trainees more than a year in advance, and most will recruit people once they have completed their LPC. This may involve starting employment as a paralegal before progressing to a training contract.
Some well-known firms in this area which recruit trainee solicitors – see firms' websites for full details:
- Bindmans LLP www.bindmans.com which specializes in human rights law, criminal law and clinical negligence. As well as trainees they “ often have short-, medium- or long-term requirements for Paralegal work”.
- Christian Khan www.christiankhan.co.uk
- Hodge Jones & Allen www.hodgejonesallen.co.uk
- Leigh Day & Co www.leighday.co.uk
- Deighton Pierce Glynn www.pierceglynn.co.uk
Some well-known barristers' chambers in this area which offer pupillages – see websites for full details:
- Blackstone Chambers www.blackstonechambers.com
- Doughty Street Chambers www.doughtystreet.co.uk
- Tooks Chambers www.tooks.co.uk
You can find other firms and chambers practising in this field by searching the following sites:
- The Law Society site will help you to find law firms specialising in human rights work:
You can search for solicitors by area of law which includes civil liberties and human rights. By clicking on More search options, you can tick the Training Contracts box which brings up firms authorised to offer them.
- Chambers & Partners www.chambersandpartners.com search under Human Rights for firms and chambers practising in this area of law.
- The Legal 500 site www.legal500.com will enable you to find the large Human Rights Firms: Search UK , Recommended Law Firms; select region ( London is probably the only region which will contain Human rights listings); under "Public Sector" select "Civil Liberties and Human Rights"
- Bar Human Rights Committee www.barhumanrights.org.uk
- Lawyers for Liberty www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk is a Liberty membership scheme for lawyers of any level of qualification . Lawyers for Liberty have helped raise funds at sponsored events, including skydives and the London Legal Sponsored walk. They have acted as legal observers at high profile protests, and qualified members volunteer on our public advice line.
- Human Rights Lawyers Association www.hrla.org.uk open to all connected with the law and the legal professions who have an interest in human rights law in the United Kingdom , including pupils, trainees and law students. Membership is free for law students/trainees, and might offer some valuable contacts
- Justice www.justice.org.uk an all-party law reform and human rights organisation working to improve the legal system and the quality of justice by promoting human rights and through other activities. Offers summer and winter internships and other voluntary positions.
- Solicitors International Human Rights Group
- Woman Aid International www.womenaid.org humanitarian aid and development agency which, among other activities, campaigns against violations of women's human rights. Offers a six-month Human Rights Internship, open to law graduates. Responsibilities include: gathering research materials; identifying goals, partners, projects; preparing individual profiles illustrating human rights violations; helping to develop the strategy of the Female Human Rights Forum
There are a number of Human Rights courses available in the UK and Ireland , and new courses begin every year. Some of these are listed below.
- Human Rights Centre, London School of Economics
www.lse.ac.uk/Depts/human-rights email email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Human Rights Centre, University of Essex, Colchester www.essex.ac.uk/human_rights_centre/about_hrc/index.aspx
- University of Nottingham, Human Rights Law Centre, School of Law, Nottingham, www.nottingham.ac.uk/law/hrlc email email@example.com
- Queen Mary College , University of London, LLM in Human Rights Law www.qmul.ac.uk
- Centre for the Study of Human Rights Law, University of Glasgow/University of Strathclyde www.law.strath.ac.uk/cshrl
- University of Sussex Interdisciplinary MA in Human Rights www.sussex.ac.uk/pgstudy
- Human Rights Centre, School of Law Queen's University, Belfastwww.law.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofLaw/Research/HumanRightsCentre The QUB Human Rights Centre aims to support a community of researchers in the area of human rights and to promote other academic and human rights organisations, so as to produce scholarship of excellence in this field. It organises the LL.M. Masters programme in Human Rights and Human rights and Criminal Justice, and operates Cross Border versions of these with the Irish Centre for Human rights.
- Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland , Galway www.nuigalway.ie/human_rights
Last fully updated 2012