International Human Rights Programme Internship Report

Document Sample
International Human Rights Programme Internship Report Powered By Docstoc
					Rosalind Sipos
Second Year
The British Institute of International and Comparative Law                         (London)

The British Institute of International and Comparative Law is based in London and works to
promote the international rule of law and protection of human rights. It pursues these goals
by undertaking a wide variety of projects including advising governments on law and
governance reform and on compliance with international law, conducting training for judges
and lawyers from different countries on various issues, coordinating projects to foster
discussion and awareness of human rights issues in various countries and conducting
research for publication.

During the course of the internship I worked on a number of projects for the Institute
which primarily involved researching and drafting reports to advise governments on law
reform dealing with various human rights issues. However, in addition, working at the
Institute allowed me to acquaint myself with some of the other ongoing projects which I was
not directly involved with, such as talks on the Death Penalty in Commonwealth Africa
project which brings together lawyers and judges from six Commonwealth African countries
to create a network of practitioners working to eradicate the death penalty in those countries.

The first major project on which I worked was commissioned by the UK Home Office to
look at the counter terrorism laws of eight different countries and to advise them on how to
amend the United Kingdom’s laws on counter terrorism to be more observant of their
international human rights obligations. This request came in response to the Privy Council’s
expression of concern over the section of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001
which allows for indefinite detention and its recommendation that this part be removed. To
address this concern, the UK Home Office asked the Institute to advise them of how other
countries are dealing with these issues. We found numerous different techniques in use,
although many of them were no more respectful of international human rights. It has been
rewarding to hear reports on the news since we submitted our report, which indicate that the
Government is seriously considering a number of our recommendations.

Additionally, there were a number of other major projects in which I was involved. These
included a project commissioned by the European Union to advise the Armenian
government on various aspects of governmental reform including assignments on access to
justice, orphanages policy and civil service codes of ethics and a project looking at the
respect and implementation of the law of occupation which governed the humanitarian and
administration standards to be met by the international community in Iraq. The Institute also
prepared a number of project proposals and tenders while I was there, some of which we
have subsequently received, including a major project on human rights and democratization
in Iran, to be conducted in coordination with the leading human rights organization in Iran,
a freedom of information project in Latin America and a project on the role of the
international community in post-conflict situations.

Working at the Institute was always interesting and engaging. It is rewarding to know that
the reports that I helped write are being used by governments to reform their laws, hopefully
in a positive direction. Furthermore, by simply being at the Institute, I have met an
incredible array of people working on similar issues from different approaches. Meeting in
the course of the week one of the top judges from the House of Lords, someone who has
worked with the OSCE in Kosovo, a retired British Colonel who worked on international
legal issues on the ground in Iraq last winter, practicing international human rights lawyers
and leading human rights academics gave me great insight into the options available for
someone wishing to work in this field. This internship proved to be an ideal placement for
the summer, allowing me to learn a great deal about substantive legal issues as well as about
the field as a career choice more generally. I have been able to explore and develop my own
interests while at the same time feeling that my efforts are making a contribution to the
progress of legal reform.