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5 Paid Human Rights Internships Abroad

When you’re starting on a human rights career, experience is just as important as a good education. Many entry-level jobs require experience, which can often only be gained through volunteer work or internships. In the recent past, it was assumed that any internship would be unpaid. Today, things are slowly changing, though it can still be challenging to find a human rights internship abroad with decent pay. Here are five examples:

Doctors Without Borders office internship

Location: New York, USA

Doctors Without Borders is an international humanitarian organization founded in France. Today, their headquarters are in Geneva, but they have offices around the world. Doctors without Borders focus on medical aid and can be found in conflict zones and countries affected by outbreaks of disease. According to information found on the website, the organization offers spring, summer, and fall internships at the New York office. Interns will gain practical skills, work experience, and an introduction to international medical humanitarian advocacy and aid.

To apply, candidates must be eligible to work in the US without sponsorship. If you’re based outside the US, you are responsible for securing a U.S. work permit and your own accommodation. Interns are paid $15 an hour.

Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom internship

Location(s): Geneva, London, New York

Established in 1915, the nonprofit WILPF works to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. Areas of work include redefining security; and developing feminist perspectives on peace and conflict; and promoting socio-economic justice. Based in Geneva, WILPF has national sections in 37 countries and Consultative Status with the UN Economic and Social Council. Internships are available at the International Secretariat in Geneva, the London office, and the New York office.

The ideal intern is interested in peace, women’s human rights, grassroots communications, and NGO management. WILPF’s working language is English, but other languages can help a candidate’s application. The organization pays interns 900 CHF per month.

International Aids Society internship

Location: Geneva, Switzerland

The IAS is the world’s largest association of HIV professionals with members in over 170 countries. The organization advocates for action on HIV through strategic programs, campaigns, and initiatives. IAS also hosts the world’s most prestigious HIV conferences such as the International AIDS Conference and the HIV Research for Prevention Conference.

Internships are posted periodically, but to give you an idea of what to expect, a 6-month internship that ran from September 2020 to February 2021 allowed an intern to work with the Journal of the International AIDS Society. Candidates needed to be currently studying or recently graduated in a scientific discipline. The internship paid 2,000 CHF per month and was based in Switzerland, so only candidates from Switzerland, an EU/EFTA country, or someone with a valid Swiss working permit were considered.

Human Rights Watch internship

Location: New York or Washington D.C.

Human Rights Watch is an international NGO headquartered in New York City. Through research and advocacy on human rights, it aims to address human rights abuses and hold governments, companies, policy-makers, and others accountable. Not all HRW internships are paid, but a 2021 internship posting for the MENA division was.

With this internship, interns worked closely with the Middle East and North Africa division associates and researchers. The most recent MENA internship took place during the fall 2021 semester. Interns monitored and summarized MENA political and policy developments; researched using English, Arabic, and other resources; helped staff members conduct phone interviews; and other tasks as needed. Students (with fluency in English and Arabic) currently enrolled in law, international relations, social studies, and related fields were eligible. Interns were paid $15.00 an hour. Check the HRW job board for other paid internships.

Action Against Hunger Corporate Partnerships Department internship

Location: Paris, France

Established in France in 1979, Action Against Hunger is an international humanitarian organization focused on ending world hunger. It has headquarters in six countries (France, Spain, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the United States) and focuses on nutrition, food security, sanitation, advocacy, and safe water. While their main

One Action Against Hunger opportunity placed interns within the Corporate Partnerships Department and Economic Societal Cooperation Pole. Responsibilities include organizing meetings, participating in the communication strategy, and completing other tasks related to the development of fundraising operations and the online store. Candidates should be in the process of getting a master’s degree. The posting also asked for experience in humanitarian work and fluency in written and spoken English. Interns will be compensated up to the legal minimum hourly rate, which is at least 3.90 € per hour and no more than 35 hours per week. Interns also receive restaurant vouchers and get up to 50% of their public transportation costs covered.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.