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Human Rights First Fellowship

Internship with the Human Rights First, Washington, D.C.


The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) and the Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC) in partnership with Human Rights First (HRF) in Washington, D.C. seeks applications for a fellowship to support a summer internship with HRF. The successful applicant is expected to spend up to eight weeks in Washington, D.C., between May and August 2022, working with Melissa Hooper, Director of Foreign Policy Advocacy at Human Rights First.   

This fellowship is administered jointly by PICS and DHRC, in collaboration with HRF. The fellowship provides a stipend of $5,000 to defray the travel expenses and costs of living in Washington, D.C. for eight weeks. Each application will be reviewed by a joint review committee from DHRC, PICS, and HRF.

Upon return to campus after the internship, fellows are expected to deliver a presentation of their internship projects and experiences, and submit a written reflection to PICS/DHRC.

The goal of the fellowship is to support an accomplished LSA student with demonstrated interest in pursuing a career in human rights. Applications will be evaluated on the quality of the statement of purpose, the applicant’s record of achievement, and their promise for the internship position with Human Rights First.

Application Deadline: To be determined.

Notification: To be determined.

Eligibility Requirements

This fellowship is intended for LSA undergraduates focusing on international human rights. It is not open to graduating seniors (i.e., students graduating in WN22 or SP/SU22). Students must return to campus for at least one semester after completing this internship.

Position Description

The fellow will conduct research and advocacy on issues of priority to Human Rights First’s Foreign Policy team. This entails researching laws and policies that undermine human rights in countries of interest; providing support to human rights defenders and lawyers overseas on issues that include: review of petitions for human rights sanctions, assistance in spurring U.S. government action from the Department of State or Congress, and other forms of support; and drafting fact sheets, letters, and other materials urging action in response to violations. The fellow will also help organize and conduct meetings with Congress, the United States Department of State, and other government officials in service of Human Rights First’s advocacy objectives. The fellow will help organize events in support of these objectives.

In 2020, in addition to tracking attacks on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong and Iran, and attempting to combat damage to human rights protections in the U.S. by the Unalienable Rights Commission of the U.S. State Department, Human Rights First’s objectives include advocacy to introduce major human rights legislation in Congress to act as a bulwark against the human rights deterioration in U.S. policy in recent years. This may include conditions on U.S. support to foreign governments, increases in human rights funding levels generally, and the reintroduction of funding to Central Europe. The fellow may therefore be called on to research these issues and formulate memos for congressional advocacy to increase funding or condition it on meeting human rights benchmarks.

Desired Qualifications

Reasonably sophisticated knowledge of how Congress works and how to engage Congressional offices. Excellent analytical-writing ability. Organized thinker, writer, and presenter. Interest in general foreign policy strategy and political developments in authoritarian states and states where democracy is backsliding. Foreign-language skills a plus.

Application procedure

Applicants must submit: Resume/CV, statement of purpose, transcript, and at least one letter of recommendation from a UM instructor. Applicants must submit an application via M-Compass.



Human Rights First

Human Rights First is an independent advocacy and action organization that challenges America to live up to its ideals. Over its 40-year history, Human Rights First has earned a reputation for pragmatic, results-oriented advocacy that is politically astute, grounded in facts, and driven by sophisticated legal and policy analysis. Human Rights First is a non-profit, non-partisan organization with a track record of success in delivering change that has made a meaningful difference in people’s lives. The organization is led by President and CEO Mike Breen. Breen leads a team of talented and committed activists based in four U.S. offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and Houston.

Donia Human Rights Center (DHRC)

The Donia Human Rights Center is a forum for intellectual exchange on issues around human rights among scholars, practitioners, students, and the broader public. Toward that end, we invite leading practitioners and scholars to share their insights and expertise on human rights gained through their experiences and research. We also offer internship and study-abroad opportunities to students that would enhance their understanding of contemporary human rights issues and equip them with the tools to tackle challenging human rights problems around the world.

Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS)

The Program in International and Comparative Studies (PICS) is a focal point for the interdisciplinary study of issues that transcend borders. We encourage students and faculty to broaden their horizons while they deepen their knowledge of the global diversity of cultures and political, economic, and social contexts. PICS administers one of the largest and most dynamic undergraduate programs on campus in the forms of the International Studies major and minor, as well as student fellowship support for international internships, research, and study abroad.