Project Description

Human Rights Internships in Cape Town.

Some of the most prestigious human rights internships in South Africa are offered through our program. Since the end of Apartheid in 1994, the world has praised South Africa for its peaceful transition to democracy. South Africa has one of the most liberal constitutions in the world, one that enshrines a respect for human rights. Yet protecting these human rights cannot be left to individuals or the government alone; there must be independent institutions to ensure that human rights are protected in a country that, prior to 1994, was governed by one of the most repressive regimes of the 20th century. As a VACorps intern, you will gain direct access to this nation’s progressive human rights culture through your daily internship work.

We offer the following human rights internships in South Africa:

  • Human rights law
  • Refugee rights
  • Human rights NGOs
  • Environmental rights
  • HIV/AIDS advocacy
  • Housing rights
  • Gender advocacy
  • Human rights policy
  • Education rights

Why should you consider a human rights internship in Cape Town?

Take an active role in the process— investigate and deal with complaints of human rights violations from people living in Cape Town.

Learn more about South Africa’s progressive approach towards human rights issues— Many respected legal scholars cite the South African Constitution as one of the most progressive democratic constitutions in the world. This document is revered by citizens and politicians alike and guides the democratic policies of post-Apartheid South Africa.

Contribute to the advancement of human rights causes— Research bills for Parliament, which is located in Cape Town, and possibly assist with the writing of policy papers and submissions. Participate in community-based activism. Lobby the government through the use of local media outlets.

Work with human rights leaders in civil society— You will come away with a working knowledge of South Africa’s parliamentary system and current legislative debates. If you are interested in human rights legislation or seeking real-world experience in politics, you simply cannot pass up one of our many excellent internship opportunities.

Human rights internship highlights from VACorps Alumni:

“Local residents often walk in for consultations to seek assistance from our organization regarding their human rights abuses. Usually, interns meet with them and then consult with the attorneys about whether or not our organization can assist them. If not, we refer them to another organization that can assist them. On my last day at my internship site, a woman came in with a gift to thank me for assisting her. However, all I did was listen to her problem and then refer her to another human rights organization that could better assist her. Yet she still appreciated the fact that I listened to her complaint and gave her the time of day. She appreciated it enough to remember when my last day was and make the initiative to come back to the office just to say bye to me. That’s something I will hold onto for the rest of my life. I couldn’t have ended my last day at my internship any better than that.” — Palak Kaushal.


From our VACorps Alumni profile with Josh Dilk, a must-read for any serious human rights internship candidate:  “My human rights internship in Cape Town was a wonderful education in ground-level human rights work. I inspected a mental health facility, gathered information at a refugee center in De Doorns, and was able to draft reports that were sent to the South African Parliament.”

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Meet past participants:

  • Madhavi Public health internship VAC Cape Town

Madhavi Kuthanur – San Jose, California (2017)

Madhavi participated in a Human Rights & Public Health internship in Cape Town, in 2017. "The main reason I chose to intern in Cape Town is that I wanted to learn about how health systems functioned [...]

Yi Cao — Seattle, Washington USA (2017)

"I will start by saying that Cape Town is the most beautiful city that I have ever visited. Waking up and immediately seeing the blue sky and a towering mountain is still not something I [...]

  • Sophie Allen, Counseling Intern in the VACorps program

Sophie Allen — Portland, Oregon USA (2017)

"Being an African Regional focus in my studies back in the states, it felt natural to intern in an African country if I was to go abroad at all. I also have a passion for [...]

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