Internship with the South African Human Rights Commission
Position: Legal / Legislative
Number of positions: 2
Length of Internship: 8-12 weeks
Are you interested in politics, law, and promoting human rights? Then a legal and legeslative internship at the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) may be a great fit for you.
Today, South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, one that enshrines a respect for human rights. But protecting human rights cannot be left to individuals or government alone; there must be independent institutions to ensure that human rights are protected in a country that, before 1994, was governed by one of the most repressive regimes in the 20th century.
The South African Human Rights Commission, established in 1995, is a government-funded organization entrusted with monitoring the human rights of people living in South Africa. The Commission works with government, civil society, and individuals – both within South Africa and internationally – to handle complaints about human rights violations and to create a culture of human rights through advocacy, research, and legal functions. The tasks of the SAHRC are to:
- Develop an awareness of human rights among the people of South Africa.
- Make recommendations to the state to improve the carrying out of human rights.
- Undertake studies and report to Parliament on matters relating to human rights.
- Investigate complaints of violations of human rights and seek appropriate relief.
There are two types of internships available at the SAHRC: Legislative and Legal.
The legislative internship at the SAHRC will enable you to work in the Parliamentary offices of the SAHRC, dealing specifically with legislative matters. This work will involve researching bills for Parliament, and possibly assisting with the writing of official policy papers and submissions. Occasionally, you may be given the opportunity to visit Parliament to monitor legislation of interest to the Commission, and to attend weekly corporate board room meetings at the SAHRC offices. You will work with human rights leaders in civil society, and you’ll come away with a working knowledge of South Africa’s parliamentary system and current legislative debates. If you are interested in human rights legislation and/or seeking real-world experience in politics, an internship at the SAHRC might be the perfect fit.
An legal internship at the SAHRC will allow you to gain insight not only into how an independent national institution like the SAHRC functions, but also an understanding of current human rights issues in South Africa. This sort of internship looks fantastic on a resume, particularly given the SAHRC’s reputable stature both within South Africa and internationally.
Of his internship at the SAHRC, Tim LaRocco writes:
“My internship was well worth the investment, as I was able to see up close the relationship between poverty and neo-liberal capitalism as well as the various interactions between intergovernmental organizations and NGOs. I now return home equipped with essential skills to further my career in the field of international relations, and with a leg up on the competition by having actually worked in a foreign country.” -Tim LaRocco, April, 2009.