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ASU Law students promote human rights, international development through summer internship program

By

Julie Tenney

Gaining hands-on experience with organizations in developing countries around the world, students from Arizona State University's Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law are helping to advance human and civil rights, promote democracy and affect other global issues through the International Rule of Law and Security summer internship program.

Through the internship program, ASU Law Juris Doctor, Master of Legal Studies and Master of Laws students use their legal research, writing and other skills in working with the organizations, many of which are understaffed or underfunded. So having access to the caliber of talent ASU Law students contribute, even just for 10 weeks over the summer, makes a tremendous difference.

The program started last summer with four ASU Law students interning in the Southeast Asian nation of Timor-Leste at the Judicial System Monitoring Program and the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice. ASU Law significantly expanded the program for 2020, more than tripling the number of interns over last year.

This year’s 13 students worked remotely for the Initiative for Strategic Litigation in Africa and Corruption Watch in Johannesburg, South Africa; the Ateneo Human Rights Center and the Commission on Human Rights in Manila, Philippines; and the Judicial System Monitoring Program and the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice in Dili, Timor-Leste.

“Through working on challenging legal issues in another country and learning about the role of international law, (International Rule of Law and Security) interns have been able to build experience that will help them land jobs after graduation and contribute to the work of local organizations protecting the rights of vulnerable people,” said Professor Julia Fromholz, director of the International Rule of Law and Security program. “We are also developing long-term relationships with the organizations that host our students, and we look forward to sending more interns to them in person as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

Gaining valuable work experience by putting into practice what they learn at ASU Law and working with diverse groups of people and organizations, the program's student interns say the experience is helping to shape the remainder of their time at law school and their thoughts on future careers.

Sharon Foster, ASU Law 2021 JD candidate, conducted research for a report on prisoners’ rights at the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice in Timor-Leste. Priyal Thakkar, ASU Law 2022 JD candidate, worked on several topics pertaining to women’s and sexual rights at Initiative for Strategic Litigation, a pan-African, feminist strategic litigation NGO in Johannesburg.

They recently shared what the experience meant to them on video:

Video of ASU Law Students Promote Human Rights and International Development through their Summer Internships

Video by ASU Law

While the 2020 summer interns participated remotely due to COVID-19, they will all have the opportunity to visit their internship host organizations and cities when it is safe to travel.

Summer 2021 applications are expected to open in January.

Read more about ASU Law students who interned at the Initiative for Strategic Litigation here and those with the Office of the Provedor for Human Rights and Justice here.

You can also learn more from the students in their blog posts:

• "Consular obligations Concerning Human Trafficking Survivors" by Isabella B. Ruggeri, a JD 2021 candidate.

• "Problems and Parallels in Policing: The United States and Timor-Leste" by Foster.

• "A Possible Path Forward for Global Climate Change Litigation" by Maria L. Hodge, JD 2021 candidate.