For Immediate Release: For More Information Contact:
May 5, 2000 Diane Brown, (317) 274-7711
LAW SCHOOL INTERNS WORK ABROAD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
INDIANAPOLIS - When Nepal’s lowest caste – “The Untouchables” or “Dalits” - needed an advocate before the United Nations in Geneva, IU School of Law at Indianapolis student Joshua Robertson was their voice at proceedings held this spring.
This summer Robertson, a second-year law student, will return to Geneva where this time, he will work at the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights helping to plan the World Conference Against Racism scheduled for next year in Africa.
Robertson is one of 10 law students at IUPUI who will spend this summer as overseas human rights interns sponsored by the Program in International Human Rights Law at the IU School of Law. Other interns are headed for Argentina, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Honduras, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, Northern Ireland and the Philippines.
In four short years, the program that placed only two interns in its initial year has sent 25 students to work at more than 30 governmental and non-governmental agencies dealing with international human rights issues. The interns have served on six continents working in more than 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, India, Malaysia, Russia, and South Africa.
During their 10- to 12-week internships, students provide legal expertise for organizations that serve “people who have voices that would not be heard, if not for our students,” said Professor George Edwards, the founder and director of the unique IU program. “International human rights is an area where our students can make a valuable, rich, substantial impact on the lives of people around the world.”
Students receive academic credit for their internships. Law school scholarships finance the students’ housing, food, transportation and communication expenses over the summer.
No other Indiana university offers an international human rights summer program like that at IU School of Law at Indianapolis, Edwards said.
Along with the service element, the overseas program provides a rich, cultural and educational experience for his students, Edwards said.
“It takes them beyond the four corners of a (text)book, beyond the four corners of the cities they live in,” he said.
Flags dotting a map in the law professor’s office represent the countries where the law school interns have served. A thick photo album stashed on a bookcase contains dozens of pictures of students on the field assignments, along with photos of students and Edwards with the likes of such people as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Nelson Mandela, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and dozens of heads of state, ambassadors and U.N. representatives.
The growth of the Program in International Human Rights Law has been surprising and phenomenal, Edwards said. “Now students are choosing the school because of this program,” the professor said.
Robertson is among those who decided to attend the IU School of Law because of the human rights program.
“The program is one of the best aspects of the law school,” he said.
A pre-departure reception for this summer’s interns will be held from 5-6:30 p.m. Wednesday (May 10) in the lobby of the law school, 735 W. New York Street.
For pre-departure interviews with students or Professor George Edwards, call Diane Brown at (317) 274-7711.