Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights - Internship Programme


International Organizations

Location (s):

  • Switzerland
Palais des Nations, CH-1211 Geneva 10


The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the Secretariat Department responsible for strengthening international human rights mechanisms; enhancing equality and countering discrimination; combating impunity and strengthening accountability and the rule of law; integrating human rights in development and in the economic sphere; widening the democratic space; and early warning and protection of human rights in situations of conflict, violence and insecurity. 


This announcement broadcasts international internship assignments with the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination Branch (ROLENDB). Situated within the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Rights to Development Division, the Branch initiates and supports the High Commissioner’s advocacy position, developing strategies and leading OHCHR; implements General Assembly and Human Rights Council (HRC) mandated tasks through drafting of reports, studies, supporting the work of expert bodies, and organizing panels and expert meetings; conducts policy-oriented research and analysis in the areas of rule of law, equality and non-discrimination; develops manuals and guidance, information and communication tools on thematic issues, including mainstreaming of human rights and their gender dimensions internally and in inter-agency processes; provides technical support and assistance to strengthening national capacities of all stakeholders, including rights-holders; provides expert and legal advice and support in the areas of rule of law, equality and non-discrimination, clearance to ensure conformity of OHCHR agreements with the United Nations rules, procedures and practices. ROLENDB is comprised of four sections, namely: the Anti-Racial Discrimination Section (ARDS); the Indigenous Peoples and Minorities Section (IPMS); the Rule of Law and Democracy Section (ROLDS); and the Women's Human Rights and Gender Section (WRGS). 

Based in Geneva, Switzerland, under the direction of the Chief of Branch and the general guidance of the Head of Section, the intern reports to Human Rights Officer in the assigned Section. This assignment is offered for an initial period of three (3) months, with a possibility of extension up to a total period of six (6) months (upon further approval by the supervisor) with a commencement date ranging/ starting from February 2019 to December 2019. 


The intern shall support OHCHR in fulfilling its mission: to work for the protection of all human rights for all people; to help empower people to realize their rights, and to assist those responsible for upholding such rights in ensuring that they are implemented. 

Daily responsibilities of the Rule of Law, Equality and Non-Discrimination intern will depend on the individual's background and specific duties may include but are not limited to:

  • Undertaking research, conducting analyses and assist in drafting of reports, guidance materials, notes and publications on core issues (e.g. Women, peace and security, violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender stereotypes, women's human rights defenders, gender integration, sexual orientation, gender identity) and other key issues (e.g. rule of law and democracy from the human rights perspective, rights of indigenous peoples and minorities, and issues of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, including racism and sport, role of media in combating intolerance and incitement to hatred);
  • Providing substantive and logistical assistance to the organization of expert group meetings, workshops, consultations, seminars, panels, side events at the Human Rights Council (HRC) on the subjects related to respective Section of assignment;
  • Contribute to the development of online and face-to-face training material on the subjects mentioned above, depending on the Section;
  • Liaise with OHCHR field officers on the thematic areas relevant to the respective Section and participate in inter-agency meetings, meetings with permanent missions and with human rights activists;
  • Assist with the promotion of the mandate of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights to Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP), the United Nations Voluntary Fund on Indigenous Peoples (UNVFIP), the Minorities Fellowship Programme (MFP) and the Indigenous Fellowship Programme (IFP);
  • Follow up on mechanisms of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of the World Conference against Racism (WCAR), Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related intolerance as well as the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, Working Group of Experts on People of African descent and the Ad Hoc Committee on the Elaboration of Complementary Standards;
  • Support in the organization of the annual Fellowship Programme for people of African descent and management of the Anti-Discrimination Database;
  • and Perform other related duties requested by the supervisor, as appropriate.

Opportunity is About:


Candidates should be from:

Description of Ideal Candidate:


COMMUNICATION: Speaks and writes clearly and effectively; listens to others, correctly interprets messages from others and responds appropriately; asks questions to clarify, and exhibits interest in having two-way communication; tailors language, tone, style and format to match the audience; demonstrates openness in sharing information and keeping people informed. 

TEAMWORK: Works collaboratively with colleagues to achieve organizational goals; solicits input by genuinely valuing others’ ideas and expertise; is willing to learn from others; places team agenda before personal agenda; supports and acts in accordance with final group decision, even when such decisions may not entirely reflect own position; shares credit for team accomplishments and accepts joint responsibility for team shortcomings. 

CLIENT ORIENTATION: Considers all those to whom services are provided to be “clients ” and seeks to see things from clients’ point of view; establishes and maintains productive partnerships with clients by gaining their trust and respect; identifies clients’ needs and matches them to appropriate solutions; monitors ongoing developments inside and outside the clients’ environment to keep informed and anticipate problems; keeps clients informed of progress or setbacks in projects; meets timeline for delivery of products or services to client.


To qualify for the United Nations Secretariat internship programme, applicants must, at the time of application, be enrolled in a graduate school programme (i.e. Master's degree or equivalent degree, or higher) or in the final academic year of a first-level university degree programme (i.e. Bachelor's degree or equivalent degree) in the area of law, political science, international relations, social sciences or a related field, OR have graduated with a university degree as defined above AND, if selected, must commence the internship within one-year period from the date of graduation.

Work Experience

Applicants are not required to have professional work experience for participation in the internship programme though any relevant academic and/or practical experience, in particular in the area of legal affairs, human rights or a related area, would be an advantage. 

Applicants should be computer literate in standard software applications; have a demonstrated keen interest in the work of the United Nations with a personal commitment to the ideals of the Charter, and have the demonstrated ability to successfully interact with individuals of different cultural backgrounds and beliefs - which includes willingness to understand and be tolerant of differing opinions and views.


English and French are the working languages of the United Nations Secretariat. For this internship, fluency in English or French is required and knowledge of the other is an asset. Knowledge of another United Nations official language – i.e. Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish, would be an advantage.


Deadline: January 31, 2020

Cost/funding for participants:

United Nations internships are not remunerated and interns are not considered officials or staff members of the Organization. Travel costs and living expenses must be borne by the interns themselves or by a sponsoring institution. Interns are responsible for making their own travel arrangements and for obtaining visas. In Geneva, interns are provided, upon arrival, with a Swiss ID card for the duration of the internship by OHCHR's Administrative Section. They are also provided with a U.N. ground pass, a library card and general information about OHCHR and the United Nations.

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