“I’ve Been Able To Explore Substantive Thematic Areas of Human Rights”

Suffolk University Law School intern at RWIMy name is Emily Pijanowski and I am a summer intern at RWI from Suffolk University Law School.The prospect of beginning a new internship or job will naturally engender feelings of uncertainty. You wonder what the people will be like, what the work will entail, and what the expectations will be. Thus, as as an American law student, the opportunity to intern at an internationally reputed human rights institution in a foreign country was characterized by a distinct kind of excited apprehension.

I had the opportunity to spend time in Lund during the summer of 2014 through a study program coordinated by the partnership between the Faculty of Law and Suffolk University Law School. As a result, I had a general idea of what to expect from a summer in Lund. However, while I did visit this lovely European town approximately one year ago, the opportunity to return for the purpose of pursuing an entirely new opportunity allowed me to embrace my time here with refreshed perspective.

One of the first activities that I experienced at the RWI was the Swedish social tradition of fika. As I was welcomed into the professional and social culture of the Institute, this practice served as an excellent opportunity to meet many of the colleagues who were gathered together on my first day. The cultural significance of such a basic tradition is truly special and it allowed the introductory welcome at the Institute to be that much warmer.

As I settled into my internship, I found that the fundamentally communal and inclusive nature of the environment allowed me to smoothly integrate into the daily culture of RWI.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my experience has been the opportunity to attend the seminars of visiting scholars, academics, and researchers. In the first week of my internship, my supervisor, Mark Gibney, hosted a two-day seminar to propose the establishment of a new initiative that will measure the extent to which states are fulfilling their human rights obligations extraterritorially. The purpose of this project is derived from the reality that states have traditionally been evaluated based on how well they are respecting their human rights obligations domestically. This analysis provides an incomplete examination regarding how states’ practices and policies are both positively and negatively influencing human rights throughout the world. This initiative served as an example of the dynamic ways in which RWI contributes to the development and application of international human rights law.

As my internship has progressed, I have had the opportunity to learn more about how RWI combines its academic research and scholarship with international human rights development programs in different parts of the world. I have been exposed to important discussions regarding how broad thematic ideas may be narrowly tailored to address the distinct contextual frameworks of RWI’s individual international offices. These discussions have allowed me to develop greater understanding regarding the need to consider the geopolitical, social, cultural, and economic realities that characterize human rights development in these respective areas of the world.

Through my work at the RWI, I have been able to explore substantive thematic areas of human rights by focusing on the most salient issues in these areas, applicable law and legal mechanisms, and the formulation of effective methodological approaches. I have learned that as the phenomenon of globalization continues to pervade the human rights context, the organizations, institutions, and networks that seek to shape existing legal frameworks must adapt as well.

My internship experience at RWI has ultimately exposed me to the importance of how institutional partnerships contribute to the formulation of broad visions that are translated into practical and operable initiatives for the purpose of effectively adapting human rights law to the domestic, regional, and international realities of the 21st century.

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