Human Rights Internships Abroad

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A Guide to Human Rights Internships Abroad

Interning abroad with a focus on human rights is important and motivating work. Through an international internship, you will learn about current issues around the world as well as get a better understanding of the local culture and realities on the ground. By working with populations in need as well as in-country leaders, you will get an idea of where you’d like to focus your career and how your passions fit with your professional goals. Before starting a human rights internship abroad it can be easy to romanticize work in the field; by directly working in the field for an extended period of time, you will gain a more in-depth idea of the day-to-day challenges and rewards of the fie

Why Intern Abroad

Protecting human rights around the globe allows you to make a difference and be directly involved in social transformation for different communities. By becoming engaged in human rights work abroad, you will gain specific experiences that will help inform you of future concentrations within the field. You may have hands-on training while interning abroad in human rights, on topics such as advocacy, civil rights litigation, and community organizing. 

Many organizations give human rights interns a significant amount of responsibility in cases and projects, which will allow you to have a good idea of the specific tasks that go into generating change. There will also be time to explore the local area around your internship, as well as time to travel, and many human rights internships abroad incorporate cultural events or excursions.

An internship in human rights will give you an understanding of best practices and methods for community self-empowerment. Many human rights organizations place an emphasis on economic, social, and political development through workshops, trainings, and mentorship programs. So, you might be helping with education and outreach, building partnerships, or directly assisting with establishing programs in a community.

You could intern abroad in human rights with a non-profit organization, local government, community center, or even a private company. After your internship abroad you will have an understanding of the systems in place at the local, regional, and national level that influence human rights. Through spending time in the field and working directly on specific projects, you will build competencies and abilities that will make you more employable in the human rights sector. 


As you might expect, most opportunities for human rights internships abroad are located in developing countries. We’ve picked just a few countries in Asia, South America, and Africa that provide good opportunities to build your experience while making a difference.

Cambodia is one of the world’s poorest countries, and human rights internships in Cambodia will give you insight into the challenges facing a developing country with a difficult past. With one-third of the people in Cambodia making less than one dollar a day, your internship work will contribute to improving the standard of living and empowering communities to make change. There has been some economic growth in Cambodia recently, but human rights is still an area that needs focus, mostly because of political and social issues.

Ecuador is one of the least economically developed countries in South America, and many communities are located in remote areas. Through an internship in human rights you will most likely be working with an NGO to provide services to different groups as well as support self-empowerment. Ecuador has a diverse population with many indigenous peoples, and this is an excellent location to strengthen your cross-cultural skills.

Ghana is an outstanding location for internships abroad in human rights because it is one of Africa’s most economically advanced countries, but still has people facing poverty and other barriers. Many rural villages and poor areas within cities are in need of community support and programs for self-empowerment. Ghana is a democracy and the most stable country in its immediate region, so it is a solid introduction for those wanting to learn more about West Africa as a whole.

Nepal is a friendly and peaceful nation with many opportunities to make a difference in international human rights. As the base for treks to the famous Mt. Everest, Nepal sees a good amount of tourists each year, however the economic benefits from these visitors is not seen in the poorest parts of the country. Many people in Nepal live well below the poverty line in remote villages, making it difficult to drive true change. Your internship in Nepal may be based around community development and support, skills-building, and gender justice.

South Africa has a complicated human rights history, from one of the world’s most repressive regimes before 1994 to today’s reputation as a location for open and respectful dialogue. Similar to Ghana, South Africa is the perfect country for learning more about the human rights situation in Africa while also being based in nation that is politically stable. Many human rights organizations in South Africa focus on women’s empowerment through education, skills training, and micro-lending. 

Human Rights Internships

An international human rights internship is ideal for graduates interested in pursuing a career in law, politics, social work, economics, community development, or psychology. Some major areas of focus for internships abroad in human rights include women’s rights, child rights, indigenous rights, educational outreach, research, and legal counsel. You could be placed with an NGO, law firm, or other organization leading campaigns and educational outreach to make change. There are many different tasks you may be doing as a human rights intern abroad. Many human rights internships abroad are focused around grassroots efforts and interns help to raise awareness of local issues within the community. You will build the communication skills needed to work with marginalized groups and get an idea of the planning and coordination required to lead these projects during your internship.

Language. Depending on where you intern in human rights, it may be beneficial to add a language course to your internship or study the language ahead of time. Oftentimes the communities you are working with may not speak English, so having some knowledge of the local dialect or national language will help you build relationships. However, if you are placed with an international organization you will most likely be working in an English-speaking office, so language skills are not required for all internships abroad. Some organizations also provide supplemental language lessons for interns to expand their fluency.

Tasks. Day-to-day tasks during your human rights internship could include working directly with at risk individuals, interviewing and reporting, researching previous cases, assisting with legal support, and helping with office work. You could also be out in the field, which could include visiting shelters or support centers in communities of focus, arranging presentations, and leading educational outreach.

Depending on the size of the organization you intern in, you could even be helping to plan conferences or workshops for other human rights professionals. There is no previous experience required for most human rights internships abroad, although interns must have an interest and passion for the field.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

Interning abroad in human rights will give you specific experience with the different roles and positions available in the field. After your internship abroad you will have a better idea of your own personal and professional goals related to the field of human rights, and you may even decide on a particular focus or region you want to work in.

An international internship in human rights will set you apart from other resumes when applying for jobs as well as during interviews.You will be able to build your network and establish connections with international players in the field of human rights too. In addition, your internship abroad may help contribute to a campaign that enacts political or social change for local communities, which is in and of itself rewarding.

Interning in human rights will teach you adaptability and flexibility in a way that cannot occur through reading or studying in your home country, which will make you much more prepared for any future job in human rights. Your international experience will give you an understanding of the intercultural communication and social understanding needed to be a successful professional in the field of human rights.

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A Guide To
Human Rights Internships Abroad


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