The Experience of Working in an Established Human Rights Institution

By: Emmanuel Sam, PHRGE Fellow at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Lund, Sweden

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While considering co-ops, I always wanted to get an international experience, especially in an institution with a human rights focus. When the time came for co-op, I decided to try my luck and applied for a PHRGE fellowship to work at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. I did not expect much though, because at first glance, I saw that the PHRGE Fellowship was very competitive. I was so excited when I was called for an interview and, after a few days, was told that I received the fellowship. Finally, I had my dream of doing my co-op overseas.

From the very first day at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, everyone welcomed me as a member of the team and genuinely expected me to make a contribution. I hit the ground running, working on a memo about the role of Nordic cities in the human rights framework. My supervisor then told me that the memo would be developed into a concept paper.

My second project was to work on a memo about National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs). The memo addresses the Sub-Committee on Accreditation’s procedure in assessing and analyzing NHRIs up to the threshold of grading them by A, B, and C statuses, using the Paris principles. NHRIs are independent institutions that are established by the domestic law of a given country. I worked on the accreditation process with specific reference to the procedure used in grading NHRIs.

I briefly worked on a pilot program for Zimbabwe in which I conducted research and wrote a memo. The memo addressed the constitutional alignment in Zimbabwe, the new provisions incorporated into the new constitution, and the parties involved in the process. The memo also addressed the independence of the judiciary in Zimbabwe in relation to human rights.

Finally, I am working on hate crime and hate speech with one of the institute’s Head of Programs. I am writing a report on my findings about the causes of hate speech and how hate speech sometimes gives rise to hate crime. I also focused on the role of the press in hate crime situations in relation to freedom of press. I have looked at case studies on Rwanda, the Holocaust, Kenya and Myanmar. I hope to complete this last project for my co-op before heading back to the US.

My experience in Sweden has been great. The people I have met and interacted with are very friendly. I have traveled around Europe on the weekends, visiting France, Italy, Denmark and Germany. The climax of the excitement of my internship was when I was announced as this year’s LL.M. commencement speaker at Northeastern University School of Law’s commencement on May 27, 2016. I am very happy for such a great honor. Lastly, I am very grateful to PHRGE for giving me such an opportunity to pursue my career objectives.

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4 Responses to The Experience of Working in an Established Human Rights Institution

  1. Alpha Sesay says:

    Proud of you, I have always known you to be a person that believes in social justice. Keep doing it.

  2. James kelson says:

    Continue your strides in human rights. We started it together I’m still here doing my own bit brother. Wish YOU THE Best

  3. Angela Sam says:

    You have always done your best in promoting human rights. I could still recall that you started this journey when you were so young. I’m proud of you that you have not derailed from your dreams. Keep pushing for them.

  4. Adama SIllah says:

    I trust in your ability to give women and children the opportunity to bring out their views on issues affecting them. You have done well Mr. Sam

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