I respect the importance of public service. While I was at university, I pursued degrees in law, as well as in foreign languages, and entered the public sector in Melbourne, Australia serving as a Federal Prosecutor. Although I enjoyed serving the public in Australia, I simply felt I wanted to do more. Through my studies of international law and my desire to contribute to a greater cause, I set my eyes on the United Nations, an institution tackling legal affairs at a significant global level.
I wanted to work for the United Nations for as long as I can remember. During my youth, I was drawn to the organization from its mission, its principles, and its contributions to public service. When the opportunity arose to work with the United Nations’ International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), I took it. In 2005, I set out for Arusha, Tanzania to both contribute to the reconciliation process in Rwanda and to the fight against impunity across the globe.
There are many unique aspects about working in international legal affairs. International law is a relatively new concept, and within that spectrum, International Criminal Law, is still in its infancy. Unlike legal processes at the national level, where the opportunity to set a new precedent comes around once in a “blue moon,” most days I have the chance to prepare legal arguments, contribute to discussions, and help develop a body of jurisprudence in the emerging field of international criminal justice.
Each day brings a whole new set of challenges and rewards. The challenges of working within an international legal system are a “mixed bag”. Some days I have a very strong sense of making an important contribution to the legal process, other days I need to keep focusing on the “bigger picture.” The rewards, however, are great. It is gratifying to be a part of an institution that aims to assist in the reconciliation process in a country recovering from events as horrific as the Rwandan genocide, and which is helping write the legal framework of international criminal law and human rights law. Institutions such as this one are also trying to deter others from committing these kinds of atrocities.
For individuals interested in work with the United Nations in legal affairs, it is important to have patience and perseverance. An applicant must understand that you may be “part of a puzzle.” The international legal process is a powerful tool, but it has its limitations. One must be prepared to adjust to changes in day-to-day procedures and understand that a legal system is not built overnight.
The town of Arusha, Tanzania, is a small, peaceful town. It was quite a transition coming from Australia to Africa, and although it differs a great deal in geography and culture, in many respects working life in the litigation field is very much the same as anywhere else in the world. The culture of Arusha is rich and diverse; there are so many things you would not get to see elsewhere. Mount Kilimanjaro is about an hour away, as well as the Ngorongoro Crater, the world’s largest caldera (collapsed volcano). Zanzibar is an easy weekend trip away. There are many national parks and reservations, as well as opportunities to take safaris and experience the natural wildlife of Tanzania.