Master’s Degree in Law, University of Innsbruck, Austria
Master’s Degree in Political Science, University of Innsbruck, Austria
English, French, German, Swahili
Before starting university, I volunteered in Tanzania and South Africa where I saw first hand the challenges of development and human rights. I became determined to help solve these problems, and decided to study law and political science at university. After graduating, the question was how to best use my newfound knowledge to promote social justice. Then I found out about the Associate Experts Programme through the Austrian government. The goal of the programme is to provide assistance to developing countries and offer recent university graduates aged 32 and under the opportunity to gain professional experience within the United Nations system. Austria is one of the programme’s 23 donor countries, and I was recruited under a bilateral agreement between my government and the United Nations, after being selected out of a pool of applicants from my country. I’m now spending two years using my expertise to assist the United Nations in one of its key work areas: human rights.
I’m stationed at the West Africa Regional Office of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Dakar, Senegal. OHCHR is the United Nations’ central office for the promotion and protection of human rights. It provides a forum for identifying and highlighting human rights challenges, and leads global efforts in response to them. For example, in order to bring the former president of the Republic of Chad, Hissène Habré, to trial, the African Union and Senegal are working on the option of creating an international ad-hoc tribunal. It’s believed that the former president and his allies were responsible for widespread atrocities while in power, and the tribunal could be an important step towards fighting impunity for human rights violators. By giving technical assistance, OHCHR contributes to ensuring that violators of human rights are brought to justice, in accordance with the relevant international statutes and laws.
But what do my responsibilities include? Well, each staff member in our office is responsible for a different country in the region. In addition to working on issues related to impunity, I monitor events in Nigeria and prepare reports about developments relevant to the human rights situation there. Because I am in the field, I’ve had the privilege of traveling through a diverse and exciting region of Africa. Not only that but I’ve come closer to the people we aim to serve through our work, and I have seen the impact it has on their lives.
Since drafting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, the United Nations has pioneered the cause of equality and freedom for all. And so, for someone working in the field of human rights, a role with this groundbreaking organisation is an obvious choice. I have followed the work of the United Nations closely since I was in high school, and now, as a staff member, I draw inspiration to continue my career in human rights from the experienced and passionate professionals I see around me everyday. The United Nations careers portal contains a list of the 23 donor countries that participate in the Associate Experts Programme. If you’re an enthusiastic graduate who comes from one of them, then I strongly recommend the programme to you. It’s the ideal way to contribute to a cause you care about, and gain experience working abroad in your field.