My externship “always gets the most attention on my resume”

“I always tell people the Geneva Externship program is why I decided to attend the University of Michigan Law School,” writes Christian Husby, ’17, of his externship with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)…. 

A suited man stands on a rock overlooking Lac Léman in Geneva, Switzerland.
Welcome to Geneva!

Designed for second- and third-year law students, the Geneva Externship will  immerse you in the work of international institutions under close supervision by qualified lawyers. You will explore how international legal regimes intersect with such diverse fields as trade, human rights, intellectual property, labor, environment, telecommunications, and health.

Cover of the 2022 Geneva Externship Program Brochure
Advice From Our Fellows

The best way to understand what the Geneva Externship is like may be to hear about it directly from our fellows. Check out the fellow profiles or browse the student placement guide for advice, guidance, and tips.

Cover of the Geneva Student Guide
2L Christner Speaks to UNHRC

A mere two months into his externship in Geneva, 2L Collin Christner found himself on the world stage as he made a statement at the March 6 meeting of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC). It was a big moment for Christner about an important topic: the human rights of Rohingya Muslims and other minorities in Myanmar.

Collin Christner

Apply Now

The Geneva International Fellows Program is more than just on-the-job training⸺it offers a mix of classroom and practical learning, advanced training, and research opportunities.

We hope you’ll consider applying.

Please submit your application through MCompass, and make sure your application package is complete before you submit. Please be aware that the Geneva Externship Program has a cap of 15 students. Occasionally, we receive more applicants than we can accommodate, but the vast majority of applicants receive a spot at one of their top three choices.

What You’ll Need

  • A cover letter 
    • Address letter “To whom it may concern” and leave the address blank
  • Your resume
  • A statement of interest 
    • There are no length requirements, though most are around three to five pages, double-spaced.
  • A letter of recommendation from a Michigan Law professor
  • If you are doing an externship in your final semester, please review your graduation requirements to ensure any remaining requirements will be satisfied by the externship. Please consult the registrar if you have any questions regarding graduation requirements.

Externship Details

Students, before you proceed, be sure to read the policies and regulations governing Michigan Law externships. 

Externship Program Policies

  • Externship Requirements

    Externship Courses

    The Geneva Externship Program is a 14-credit, semester-long course that combines field placements with leading International Organizations (IOs) and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in Geneva (12 credits, pass/fail) with a contemporaneous Seminar (two credits, graded) intended to provide substantive context for the externships.

    The goals of the program are that students:

    • develop their knowledge and understanding of public international law, the role and function of International Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations, as well as the practice of various specialty areas practiced in the international context (e.g., International Trade Law);
    • improve their ability to perform lawyering skills in an international context, e.g., conducting research, drafting documents, analyzing legislation, monitoring developments in international law, discussion issues and policy implications, developing strategic plans, negotiating on behalf of an organization, or speaking publicly on behalf of an organization;
    • are exposed to the range of effective lawyering in an international context;
    • further develop their professional working relationships with attorneys practicing in the field, support staff, and peers; and
    • become a self-directed learner and reflective practitioner, intentional about their on-going professional development, and actively engaged in their supervisory relationship.

    Course Requirements 

    In addition to the field placement, you are expected to do the following as part of the Seminar:

    • attend approximately 13 seminar sessions, divided between guest lectures/visits and roundtable discussions;
    • submit written submissions in the form of bi-weekly Reflective Essays, a Final Report, and a Student Guide contribution. These written submissions are designed to solicit reflective description of your daily work, the nature of the projects they are working on, the role they play in their assigned projects, and the supervision and feedback they are receiving; and
    • provide three Work Products samples.
  • Student Eligibility

    The externship program is open to second- or third-year law students who are in good academic standing at the Law School.

  • Credits

    The Geneva Externship awards 13 credits total: 11 credits for the field placement work (pass/fail) and two credits (graded) for the related seminar. In some cases, a student may write an academic research paper for an additional one or two credits. If you are interested in this option, please speak with Professor Anna Nicol.

    Students who propose a final semester externship must also include in their application packet a completed Registrar Checklist showing that at the end of the externship all requirements for their degree will have been met.


  • Prerequisites

    Everyone going to Geneva is required to complete their International Law Distributional Requirement before the externship.

    We do not put a required class on the list if it is not offered in the fall semester, so once the new fall schedule is released, we create the new list for the coming year. This also means that it is not too late if you have not already taken a required class.  

    Some placements have additional specific course prerequisites. If you choose one of these organizations and we place you there, you must complete all prerequisites before going to Geneva. Many prerequisites can be taken care of the fall before you go.

    View the Latest Prerequisite Requirements

  • Tuition and Living Expenses

    Students who pursue an externship in Geneva are known as Geneva International Fellows, each of whom receives a $3,000 fellowship to assist with Geneva-related expenses. Externs pay their regular tuition, and their regular aid package (loans and scholarships) applies. 


  • Details About the Application Process and Timeline

    Professors Nicol and Sankaran will be in touch to schedule a discussion with you about your choices in mid-March.

    In late March/early April, the Geneva Selection Committee (including Professors Howson, Nicol, Ratner, Sankaran, and one more to be decided) will meet to place the externship applicants.

    Our goal is always to place as many students as possible in one of their top three choices. After our selections, we will notify you of your nomination, and Professor Nicol will start working with your draft cover letter to polish it for submission to sites.

    We hope to send nominations to sites by early May, just after finals. Then we wait to hear from the placements.

    For some, it is a very quick turnaround, while other sites will take longer.

    Many sites have internal application processes, even interviews, which candidates must do.

    You must be very communicative during the summer to ensure you do not miss any of these nuances. And you must be patient.

    As summer turns to fall, there is a lot of work on permits; visas; and for one site (the U.S. Mission to the UN), a security clearance. Each of these things are time-consuming, and each can lead to more waiting. It is our hope to have everything settled before classes begin in September, but that process can extend into fall for some sites. In all cases, we are in touch with you throughout, and you are always welcome to reach out to us too, of course.

Geneva Placement Sites

The following is a list of possible placement sites in Geneva. If you are interested in the Geneva Externship Program, you are welcome to consult with Professors Anna Nicol (awnicol) or Amy Sankaran (aharwell) via Symplicity or email.

  • GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance (potentially available for 2025)

    The GAVI, The Vaccine Alliance was created in 2000 in recognition of the fact that vaccines and immunizations are a uniquely cost-effective way of protecting health and averting death, that existing vaccines were underused in and/or not adapted to the needs of developing countries, and that vaccines could be better provided through a global financing mechanism and improved coordination between public and private actors. Gavi provides legal risks analysis and supports the Gavi Secretariat and Board, as well as the other affiliated entities as appropriate, on all legal matters.

    The Legal Team negotiates and drafts all agreements for Gavi and Gavie affiliated entities, as appropriate, including agreements with donors, Gavi partners, vendors, and consultants. The Legal Team also advises the Gavi Secretariat on matters concerning operations, employment, intellectual property rights, media and public relations, conflicts of interest, privileges and immunities, corporate policies, governance, and compliance with relevant laws and regulations in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Switzerland.

    Nature of Work and Supervision

    The extern will assist with the daily business of the Legal department, working directly with the different members of the Legal team, under the direct supervision of the Director of Legal. The primary role of the intern will be to assist with the timely review and preparation of contractual documentation of a varying nature (programmatic, goods and services, partner agreements, etc.). However, other tasks and research projects will be assigned on an ad hoc basis.

    The work of Gavi is wide, ranging from public international law (including the right to health) to charities law, and from health public policy to corporate procurement and human resources. Taking into account the needs of the Team, the extern’s interests will be considered in assigning work.

    Important Information for Students

    Externs should demonstrate the following:

    • An interest in international law and public health.
    • Prior experience working in an international and multicultural environment would be an advantage.
    • Excellent knowledge of English.
    • Working knowledge of French would be an advantage.
    • Interest in transactional work.
    • Excellent written skills.
    • Ability to work well in a team, particularly in a multicultural environment.

    To learn more about the Gavi Alliance, please visit their website.

    This placement site may provide a stipend for its interns. The amount may vary depending on the year and the individual student’s overall financial aid package. The student will need to register with Swiss tax authorities, and may incur tax liability (Swiss and US).

  • International Bridges to Justice (IBJ)

    International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) Mission

    In recognition of the fundamental principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Bridges to Justice (IBJ) is dedicated to protecting the basic legal rights of individuals in countries around the world. Specifically, IBJ works to guarantee all people the right to competent legal representation, the right to be protected from cruel and unusual punishment, and the right to a fair trial.

    Key Activity Areas

    • Working as part of a team writing multimillion-dollar grant proposals to governments and foundations
    • Creating and maintaining key partnerships with in-country stakeholders around the world
    • Logistics and direct assistance to CEO and International Program Director
    • Events management as required (World Economic Forum, United Nations etc)
    • Assisting development of IBJ technology programs, transforming IBJ’s impact into scalable technology solutions
    • Outreach to law firm pro-bono departments, securing cooperation for development of resources and participation in global legal network
    • IBJ Youth project coordination and curation with our youth network

    Possibilities for substantive legal work

    • Researching and drafting criminal defender training manuals for common and civil law jurisdictions. These manuals operate as a guide for local criminal defence lawyers to use when preparing for trial.
    • Researching and drafting defence procedure wiki and defender eLearning content, designed to be used by practicing criminal defence counsel in developing legal systems. This has so far covered 100+ countries and continues to expand. This legal research is often done in cooperation with local partners and where possible the local bar association who may use this to increase institutional standards of local legal training.
    • Researching and drafting legal practice checklists based on local procedure codes for defence counsel to use when first receiving a case
    • Researching and drafting legal rights awareness material designed for wider public campaigns.
    • Researching and drafting legal policy documents related to the impact of the criminalisation of race and poverty, and how 1) criminalisation can be mitigated through alternatives to incarceration and 2) due process protections enforced to prevent abuse

    Desired skills

    • Ambitious, self-driven work ethic
    • Concise, reliable, and accurate research
    • Exceptional standards of written English
    • Clear-spoken and written communicator
    • Flexibility and capacity to multi-task
    • Proposal writing experience is favored
    • Demonstrable proficiency with technology is favored
  • International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

    The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) is a major human rights NGO involved in educating governmental officials, judges, business leaders, and others around the world about human rights. It describes itself as a global network of judges, lawyers, and human rights defenders united by international law and rule of law principles that advance human rights. Using our expertise in law, justice systems, and advocacy, we work for victims to obtain remedies, for those responsible for abuses to be held accountable, and for justice systems to be independent and active protectors of human rights. We work to change law and policy at the national and international levels when they do not adequately protect people from human rights violations.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The ICJ will assign the Michigan extern to a team, supervised by a lawyer when the ICJ determines its needs and can match them to a student’s interest. Internships are available in the following areas:

    International Law and Protection Programme

    Focusing on aspects of the development and application of international human rights law, including economic social and cultural rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, women’s human rights, international economic relations, global security and rule of law, and the United Nations.

    Regional Programme

    Focusing on specific legal issues in Africa, Asia-Pacific, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

    Participation in either programme offers the interns an opportunity to gain practical experience in human rights legal and advocacy work at the international level, as well as experience in working in a professional office environment. Students build professional and personal relations with colleagues and counterparts who will be able to provide long-term professional advice, support, and encouragement to follow a career in this field. In addition, interns gain exposure to the practical functioning of the United Nations human rights bodies and mechanisms based on Geneva.

    Externs are integrated into the ICJ’s staff and become part of a team of junior support staff. They participate and contribute to staff meetings, discussions and briefing sessions, research human rights issues, draft papers and reports, maintain information databases, attend and take notes at outside meetings, and provide support to other ICJ activities. The extern’s responsibilities are based on the needs of the ICJ and the candidate’s interests.

    Important Information for Students

    Transnational Law and a human rights law course are required. Knowledge of foreign languages is helpful. It is expected that the student selected for this placement will be expected to stay for four months.

    To learn more about the International Commission of Jurists, please visit their website.

  • International Code of Conduct Association (ICOCA)

    The International Code of Conduct for Private Security Providers’ Association (ICoCA), founded in September 2013, is a multi-stakeholder initiative created to promote, govern and oversee the implementation of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers (“the Code” or “ICoC”). The Code applies to private security companies that operate in challenging environments and its objective is to promote increased respect for human rights and humanitarian law as well as to raise the standards of operational conduct throughout the industry. The ICoCA’s members include states, private security companies, and civil society organizations. Together, these three ‘pillars’ form the Association’s General Assembly. The ICoCA Secretariat, based in Geneva, Switzerland, carries out the Association’s principal implementation and oversight functions, including certification and monitoring of member company operations, under the supervision of its Board of Directors.  

    The Association seeks interns to support its core functions which include certification, monitoring, complaints, guidance, and outreach. Through these core functions, ICoCA grows the Association and ensures its Member companies and Affiliates meet the principles and standards of the Code of Conduct as well as remedy any Code violations that may occur. Interns will support the Secretariat’s core functions conducting research, analysis, communications, administrative, and editing work. 

    Nature of a Michigan Law Extern’s Work

    Responsibilities of fellows and interns include providing general support on an as-needed basis for the core functions of the Secretariat; conducting research and editing work to support the development of human rights and Code-related tools; support the Secretariat staff in analyzing and assessing Member Companies’ applications for ICoCA Certification; Assist the Secretariat’s monitoring function in the organization of Field-Based Reviews through research and administrative support; perform regular media monitoring to ensure Member company compliance with the Code; assist in updating the ICoCA’s database of companies and other stakeholders; assist with the organization of in-person and virtual events; support the development of communication and outreach materials, which could include the website, hard-copy and social media outputs; and participate in the day to day functioning of the ICOCA Secretariat, including in strategic internal meetings.

  • INHR

    INHR is non-profit organization dedicated to improving access to the United Nations and enhancing the effectiveness of small and mid-sized states and NGOs working in the UN system. INHR offers training, research, and capacity-building to maximize the impact of these states’ interaction with UN agencies in Geneva, New York and beyond.

    Students will work with INHR in Geneva under the direction of its founder, Eric Richardson, a Michigan Law alum and former U.S. diplomat. INHR will pair students with a small island developing state that lacks resources to have a full-time delegation at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Students will provide legal and policy advice to that government to facilitate that member state’s participation in the HRC.

    Students will be expected to: prepare for the HRC, attend HRC sessions, meet with diplomats engaged in the HRC, review draft resolutions and produce interventions for the member state to use and deliver during the March 2020 HRC session.

    Students will be required to take a Human Rights course offered by the Law School. In addition, students are asked to participate in online training sessions designed to prepare students specifically for these externships. They will be taught by Eric Richardson in the fall preceding the externship.

    More information on INHR

  • International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)

    The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a not-for-profit organization that contributes to sustainable development by advancing policy recommendations in areas of international trade and investment, climate change and energy, economic policy and others. IISD was formally established in 1990, with its headquarters in Winnipeg, Canada. The Institute subsequently expanded to include offices in New York (1993), Ottawa (1995), Geneva (2000) and Beijing (2012). IISD has more than 100 staff and associates located in over 30 countries.

    Since its founding in 1990, IISD’s work has grown to cover six Program areas:

    • Climate Change and Energy: An integrated Program that looks not just at immediate solutions to the negotiation of the next generation climate treaty, but more specific solutions to climate change through long-term investment and trade solutions to unsustainable energy and other practices and processes.
    • Trade and Investment: A Program in which the linkages between international trade and investment, and the rules governing these critical economic elements of globalization, are assessed from a sustainable development perspective. Our focus is on how international trade and investment can be part of the solution for sustainable development.
    • Sustainable Natural Resource Management: A Program with a focus on environmental stewardship and management for a long-term sustainable use of our natural resources.
    • Reporting Services: A Program that includes the now iconic Earth Negotiations Bulletin that provides real time reports on multilateral negotiations relating to sustainable development, and other related reporting and public information services.
    • Global Connectivity: A Program that analyses and develops the tools to improve the role of individuals and civil society in contributing to good governance and sustainability through the internet and related communications technologies and processes.
    • Measurement and Assessment: A Program in which we assist in developing the concrete tools to assess where we are and where we need to be in environmental terms.

    In addition, IISD runs a devoted Program with the Government of China related to its evolving and complex sustainable development issues, including its outward investment policies.

    About the Investment and Sustainable Development Program

    IISD’s Investment Program considers investment as the single most vital requirement for generating economic development in developing countries. Recent developments in this field have shown that investment flows are becoming increasingly global in nature and that the qualities of these investments are critical for advancing the social and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. For this to happen, the international legal and policy framework governing trade and foreign investment must be aligned or integrated with the goal of sustainable development. IISD’s efforts have focused on this mission.

    IISD began its Investment and Sustainable Development Program approximately fifteen years ago. The Program comprises, among others, a team of highly qualified international lawyers who provide technical and legal advice on international investment treaties and contracts, with respect to negotiations, implementation and disputes. IISD also conducts workshops and training courses for negotiators, policy-makers and government officials. The team works on investment issues in different sectors including mining, agriculture and natural resources, and also provides advice and conducts research on the development of next-generation domestic laws concerning foreign investment in these sectors.

    IISD’s investment work over the past years has incorporated six main clusters:

    • Provision of legal advice to developing country governments and civil society;
    • Building capacity through training courses for civil society, developing country governments, parliaments, journalists and other groups;
    • Coordination and organization of the Annual Forum for Developing Country Investment Negotiators;
    • Publishing targeted investment-related research;
    • Producing and dissemination of the flagship news bulletin, Investment Treaty News (ITN), the first such service entirely freely available;
    • Managing a listserv exclusively for developing country policy-makers working on investment issues – Investment Policy Network (IPN).

    A full review of IISD’s work in this area can be found at

    This placement site may provide a stipend for its interns. The amount may vary depending on the year and the individual student’s overall financial aid package. The student will need to register with Swiss tax authorities, and may incur tax liability (Swiss and US).

  • International Service for Human Rights (ISHR)

    The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR) is an independent, nongovernmental organization (NGO) dedicated to promoting and protecting human rights. ISHR achieves this by supporting human rights defenders, strengthening human rights systems, and leading and participating in coalitions for human rights change at the international and regional level.

    A placement with this agency provides students with an excellent overview of the UN human rights system as a whole, and facilitates the development of skills in critical analysis. 

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    Externs are required to monitor UN human rights meetings, including the Human Rights Council, treaty body sessions, and working groups. Interns substantively contribute to ISHR’s publications and analytical material, in particular the regular online publications. Externs are also given the opportunity to be involved in ISHR’s work with regional human rights defenders’ networks, particularly in Africa, and to assist with the preparation of ISHR engagement with human rights bodies at the regional level. Externs will also learn about how an international human rights NGO functions, and gain extensive exposure to UN human rights mechanisms.

    The extern will also work on legal research projects, depending on current developments in the UN system at the time. Examples of previous research include research on the consistency of recommendations under the Human Rights Council’s universal periodic review (UPR) with international law standards, and contributions to ISHR submissions o General Comments developed by treaty bodies.

    Important Information for Students

    A strong background in either international human rights law or politics and knowledge of other languages, in particular French or Spanish, is preferred.

    To be considered, applicants should:

    • be motivated to pursue a career in human rights and have a particular interest in the UN human rights system;

    • have an excellent standard of written and spoken English;

    • be able to report thoroughly and accurately on the meetings;

    • be flexible, including willingness to cover the evening sessions of some UN meetings;

    • be able to work as a member of a team and willing to participate in a variety of tasks, as required.

    The student will be asked to complete an application form and a short writing exercise as part of his or her application.

    To learn more about the International Service for Human Rights, please visit their website.

  • Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR): Petitions & Inquiries Section (potentially available for 2025)

    The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) supports the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the principal human rights official of the United Nations. The Office spearheads the United Nations’ human rights efforts by offering leadership, working objectively, educating, and taking action to empower individuals and assist States in upholding human rights.

    OHCHR works to ensure the enforcement of universally recognized human rights norms, including through promoting both the universal ratification and implementation of the major human rights treaties and respect for the rule of law. Students may be placed in one of the three following units:

    Human Rights Treaties Division (Section I)

    While the OHCHR Human Rights Treaties Division supports the work of all the nine core human rights treaty bodies, Section I in particular supports the work of the Human Rights Committee; the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR); the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); and the Committee against Torture (CAT). In addition to organizing sessions, this involves the preparation of country briefs, drafting of lists of issues, of draft recommendations and decisions on individual complaints, supporting follow-up procedures, and organizing meetings of States Parties as well as with other stakeholders.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    During the proposed duration of the internship, the intern will primarily be assigned to assist the Section with its work on providing support to the UN Treaty Bodies. However, given the size of the Section and the overwhelming demands placed upon it, tasks may be largely based on current demands and needs. Tasks may include:

    • Conduct legal research, analysis and writing on various human rights issues, including communications to the UN treaty bodies, decisions on individual communications, periodic State reports, concluding observations and recommendations of the treaty bodies, as well as reports and submissions by national and international NGOs.
    • Assist in preparing and following treaty body sessions and other meetings as necessary.
    • Liaise with treaty body members.
    • Undertake any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

    (The Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on any of his/her particular interests within the work of the Section - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

    Petitions Unit

    The Petitions Unit of the Petitions and Inquiries Section in the Human Rights Treaties Branch is the Secretariat for treaty bodies with regard to individual complaints. The main intern’s role would be to support the Petitions Unit in screening incoming correspondence and evaluate if a prima facie case has been presented or if additional information needs to be sought from the petitioner. During the internship the interns will have the opportunity to follow individual complaint proceedings from different UN human rights treaty bodies and to assist human rights officers with legal issues related to pending cases, such as request for interim measures, objections to the admissibility, etc. Ability to speak multiple languages is useful but not required.

    For more information on the individual complaints procedure, please refer to the website

    Rule of Law and Democracy Unit

    The aim of the Rule of Law and Democracy Section (ROLDS) is to address key challenges in human rights protection, such as armed conflict and violence, impunity, democratic deficit, and weak institutions, through the elaboration of approaches leading to greater country engagement to be pursued through work on the rule of law. The Section’s outputs include:

    Legal analysis and comments on draft laws and technical advice on how such legislation can be strengthened to fully respect human rights.

    Operational tools, best practices, concept papers, guidance notes, and legal advice to support justice and accountability initiatives.

    Support and coordination of OHCHR’s lead responsibilities in the rule of law and democracy area pursuant to the Policy Committee decisions, including on transitional justice and investigations, and within the framework of the Secretary General’s Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy.

    Nature of Extern’s work and supervision

    The extern will assist, under the general supervision of the Chief of Section, in the work of Human Rights Officers responsible for one or more of the thematic areas of access to justice and the role of courts in human rights protection, transitional justice, counter-terrorism and human rights, accountability, democracy, and administrative legal issues. Tasks may include:

    • Conducting legal research, analysis, and writing on various rule of law and democracy issues from human rights perspective, including analyses of the outputs of UN mechanisms such as Human Right Council reports, treaty bodies, special procedures as well as reports by national and international NGOs.
    • Assisting in preparing expert workshops and consultations on relevant rule of law and democracy issues.
    • Assisting in the development of guidance materials and other tools.
    • Liaising with OHCHR field officers working on rule of law and democracy issues.
    • Following sessions of the Human Rights Council, treaty bodies and meetings of special procedures and other partners, as necessary.
    • Any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

    (This Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on his/her particular interests - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

    Important Information for Students

    Participants in the internship program are selected from graduate students and holders of graduate-level degrees in disciplines related to the work of the United Nations, e.g. International Law, Political Science, History, Social Sciences. Preference will be given to those, within these disciplines, who have specialized in human rights issues. A course in international human rights law is required. Excellent writing skills in English are a prerequisite, and advanced knowledge of French and/or Spanish is a strong asset. The applicant should be able to work autonomously but also within a team, often under pressure of frequent and tight deadlines. Demonstrated political judgment and discretion are essential. The selection of the extern shall be subject to regular OHCHR procedures.

    Nature of extern’s work and supervision

    The extern will primarily be assigned to assist the Section with its work on women’s human rights and gender equality. Tasks may include:

    • Preparatory work for the development of policies and reports on the human rights of women and gender equality.
    • Conducting research and analysis on the outputs of the UN mechanisms, including Human Rights Council reports, treaty bodies, special procedures and national and international NGOs.
    • Assist in organizing meetings as necessary, including with the Human Rights Council, UN Special Rapporteurs, treaty bodies and other partners.
    • Any relevant duties and tasks as they pertain to the assignment.

    (The Section will do its utmost to ensure the incumbent will have the opportunity to gain some work experience on any of his/her particular interests - to be discussed with their Supervisor).

    Important Information for Students

    Participants in the internship program are selected from graduate students and holders of graduate-level degrees in disciplines related to the work of the United Nations, e.g. International Law, Political Science, History, Social Sciences. Preference will be given to those, within these disciplines, who have specialized in human rights issues. A course in international human rights law is required. Excellent writing skills in English are a prerequisite, and advanced knowledge of French and/or Spanish is a strong asset. The applicant should be able to work autonomously but also within a team, often under pressure of frequent and tight deadlines. Demonstrated political judgment and discretion are essential. The selection of the extern shall be subject to regular OHCHR procedures.

  • United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD): DIAE (potentially available for 2025)

    The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) promotes the development-friendly integration of developing countries into the world economy. UNCTAD has progressively evolved into an authoritative knowledge-based institution whose work aims to help shape current policy debates and thinking on development, with a particular focus on ensuring that domestic policies and international action are mutually supportive in bringing about sustainable development.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The intern will be involved in the following tasks:

    • Undertake research and prepare initial drafts of, and inputs to, reports, studies, newsletters, training modules, and handbooks being prepared by the Branch on selected salient legal issues in the international trading system of particular interest to developing countries.
    • Contribute to the organization of intergovernmental meetings, expert meetings, and technical cooperation activities, such as training seminars and workshops.
    • Assist in representing UNCTAD in, and reporting on, deliberations of various councils and committees of WTO in which UNCTAD has observer status, such as the General Council, Councils for Trade in Goods, Services, TRIPS, Trade Policy Review Body, and their subsidiary bodies.
    • Perform other tasks as required, such as preparing briefing notes and presentation materials.

    Important Information for Students

    UNCTAD-DITC will take one student. The extern should have good understanding and research experience in WTO disciplines and practices.

    Division on Investment and Enterprise (DIAE)

    UNCTAD’s Division on Investment and Enterprise is implementing a programme on international investment agreements, seeking to assist developing countries to participate effectively in international investment rule-making and to manage, and learn from, investor-State dispute settlement. The programme embraces legal and policy analysis, human resources development and institution building, E-tools and data collection, and consensus-building.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The extern will:

    • Conduct research key issues in international investment agreements and their development dimension for the Second Generation Series on Issues in International Investment Agreements.
    • Conduct research for regular international investment agreements publications.
    • Assist in collecting data on bilateral investment treaties and FTAs with investment provisions.
    • Assist in updating the online database on investor-State disputes.
    • Provide assistance on any other legal issue related to international investment agreements as requested by the section.

    Important Information for Students

    UNCTAD-DIAE will take one student. The student must have:

    • Strong legal background, preferably specific knowledge of international economic/investment law.
    • Excellent English drafting skills.
    • Attention to detail.
    • An understanding of or an interest in the development implications of international investment rule making.

    To learn more about United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, please visit their website.

  • UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

    The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) was set up in 1947 by ECOSOC. It is one of five regional commissions of the United Nations. UNECE’s major aim is to promote pan-European economic integration. UNECE includes 56 member States in Europe, North America and Asia.  Over 70 international professional organizations and other non-governmental organizations take part in UNECE activities.

    As a multilateral platform, UNECE  facilitates greater economic integration and cooperation among its member countries and promotes sustainable development and economic prosperity through:

    • policy dialogue,
    • negotiation of international legal instruments,
    • development of regulations and norms,
    • exchange and application of best practices as well as economic and technical expertise,
    • technical cooperation for countries with economies in transition.

    UNECE contributes to enhancing the effectiveness of the United Nations through the regional implementation of outcomes of global United Nations Conferences and Summits. It gives focus to the United Nations global mandates in the economic field, in cooperation with other global players and key stakeholders, notably the business community. UNECE also sets out norms, standards and conventions to facilitate international cooperation within and outside the region.

    For further information on UNECE’s internship program, see

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) (specific divisions to be announced)

    Human Rights Liaison Unit

    The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems.

    UNHCR is an impartial organization, offering protection and assistance to refugees and others on the basis of their needs and irrespective of their race, religion, political opinion, or gender. In its efforts to protect refugees and to promote solutions to their problems, UNHCR works in partnership with governments, regional organizations, international, and nongovernmental organizations.

    The Human Rights Liaison Unit is part of the Policy and Law Pillar (“Pillar I”) of the Division of International Protection (DIP). The Unit aims at promoting the effective use of international human rights law and UN human rights mechanisms to strengthen the protection of persons of concern to UNHCR.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The externs assist in the finalization of UNHCR’s confidential comments to the seven human rights treaty bodies, attend the treaty body sessions, and prepare feedback to UNHCR colleagues covering the countries under examination. Externs also follow proceedings at the Human Rights Council, and provide feedback to UNHCR colleagues on discussions of relevance to the work of UNHCR. In addition, externs are required to undertake legal research and analyses on various topics of relevance to UNHCR’s work.

    While the precise tasks of interns vary, taking into account the schedule of treaty bodies, the regular and special sessions of the Human Rights Council, and the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Reviews, as well as the specific skills, competencies, and areas of interest of the respective intern, the main tasks in which interns at our sections are involved are the following:

    • Contributing to the compilation of information and preparation of UNHCR submissions to the different treaty bodies.
    • Monitoring of sessions of treaty bodies as observers on behalf of UNHCR.
    • Preparation of feedback to the concerned field offices on the deliberation and outcome of the debate on country reports by treaty bodies.
    • Participation as observers in the sessions of the Human Rights Council, as well as in informal meetings organized in parallel to the Council sessions, or any special Council meetings throughout the year and preparation of reports.
    • To contribute to the compilation of information and preparation of UNHCR submissions on countries to be examined under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) mechanism.
    • To contribute to the preparation of summaries of UPR submissions to be used for “lobbying” purposes ahead of the UPR sessions.
    • Participation as observers in the sessions of the Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Reviews.
    • Legal research tasks on human rights issues relating to refugees and other persons of concern to UNHCR.
    • Search for and analysis of documents produced by the UN human rights machinery.
    • Editing position papers and other legal documents.

    In addition, where occasions arise, interns may participate in bi- and multilateral meetings of UNHCR with government and other agency partners, as well as in training seminars or briefings offered by UNHCR colleagues.

    Interns may occasionally be asked to offer support to other units within the Division of International Protection.

    The Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section

    PPLA is the core legal section within the Division of International Protection and is at the cutting edge of the progressive development of international refugee law. PPLA works to enhance the rights of asylum-seekers and refugees through legal and policy advice and research, the

    production and dissemination of guidelines and position papers, commentaries on national (as well as regional and global) legal and policy frameworks, submission of court interventions (amicus briefs), as well as monitoring and engagement with regional and global processes, human rights and standard-setting mechanisms, and the Executive Committee.

    As a member of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section (PPLA) in the Division of International Protection (comprising the chief of section, three senior legal officers and two legal officers), interns will be engaged in a range of tasks including discrete legal research projects on various topics of relevance to UNHCR’s work. The intern may also be called upon to assist in the preparation of expert meetings, or to attend and report on various briefings or bilateral or multilateral meetings, to draft or edit policy and legal documents or advice, as required, and other tasks as they arise.

    Interns will participate in a range of activities within PPLA, and will become familiar with the daily realities of working in a large humanitarian organization. The overarching objectives of the internship – from the perspective of the intern – are (i) to gain a deeper knowledge of the work of UNHCR and the international legal frameworks governing the organization’s interventions and (ii) to practice and develop ‘professional working skills’, such as project and time management, prioritization, team work, presentation skills, drafting, etc. While we aim to engage the intern in a discrete legal research project, interns may also be called upon to become more directly involved in all the operational aspects of our work. The internship however also includes some elements of routine (e.g. compilation and preparation of seminar folders, other administrative work).

    Interns may be asked to offer support to other units within the Division of International Protection.

    Judicial Engagement Section

    More information to come.

    Important Information for Students

    UNHCR, is currently facing desk space limitations and out of necessity, a number of interns are currently “hot desking”. This has meant that they are not in a position to be able to offer a desk for each intern on a full-time basis for the duration of their internship. Interns are able to use an available desk when staff are away on mission, working remotely, or on leave. However, from time to time, interns will need to work from the UN Library at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (a few hundred meters walk from the office). Interns must be able and willing to work from locations other than the office. 

    Externs working with the Human Rights Liaison Unit must have studied transnational law and human rights law. Knowledge and/or experience in the field of refugee law will be highly valued. Fluency in English is a prerequisite, and knowledge of another UN language would be an asset. While not being a formal requirement, any relevant work experience will of course also be taken into account in the selection of interns.

    To learn more about the UNHCR, please visit their website.

  • US Diplomatic Mission to the UN in Geneva (eligible only for 2Ls, or those who have a term remaining after the externship)

    The Mission’s role is to represent the U.S. government in Geneva with the United Nations and other international agencies in Geneva, as well as with the more than 100 countries that also maintain permanent missions to the UN in Geneva. 

    Diplomatic Mission to the United Nations

    As the Mission staff manages a heavy workload, externs will assume significant responsibility under the supervision of the three legal advisors. It is critical that selected externs possess excellent legal research and writing skills. Ideal applicants have a demonstrated interest in international trade law. The position is open only to U.S. citizens; the selected applicant will need to obtain a U.S. Government security clearance.

    To learn more about the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Mission to the WTO, please visit

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The U.S. Mission Legal Office expects externs to prepare written legal research and analysis on a variety of international and U.S. law subjects, including human rights, armed conflict, refugees, intellectual property, labor, privileges and immunities, and the war on terror. In principle, legal issues may come up related to any of the more than 50 international organizations represented in Geneva which address a wide array of economic, scientific, environmental, and humanitarian matters. The U.S. Mission tries to expose interns to a variety of topics and assignments and involve them in the different aspects of multilateral negotiations, with the goal of providing a solid basis for them to understand the role of international law and diplomacy in international affairs.

    Important Information for Students

    The Diplomatic Mission to the UN will consider only 2L students. A course in international human rights law is required.

    The externship of the student selected by the U.S. Mission will be dependent upon his or her receiving a security clearance from the U.S. Department of State, and will require the student to apply through the centralized U.S. State Department Internship Application process once selected by the University of Michigan selection panel, and given preliminary approval by the U.S. Mission Legal Office. The formal offer of an internship will not be made until after this entire process is completed, and the student may not receive this final offer until just before departure for the program. It is imperative that the student start this process immediately upon selection by the U.S. Mission.

    On a space available basis, the US Mission offers a housing option at its “Mission Intern Chalet.” This is dormitory-style housing just outside of the city center with regular bus and train service into town.

    To learn more about the U.S. Diplomatic Mission, please visit its website.

    Mission to World Trade Organization

    (Please note that the USTR is not processing security clearances for this placement site at the moment. If you are interested in the work of this mission, there is a possibility that you can be assigned some work there as a part of other us mission placement to the un. Accordingly, please select the diplomatic mission to the un and make a note in the comment field to that effect.)

    The United States Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO), located in Geneva, Switzerland, offers an unparalleled opportunity for law students to work for the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) abroad and observe first-hand the working of the WTO, an organization with over 150 members. We welcome law students with an interest in international trade law to apply for this position.

    About the Legal Externship

    The Mission is part of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and is headed by the Deputy United States Trade Representative holding the rank of Ambassador with a staff of approximately 15 professionals, including three legal advisors. Externs will assist Mission staff in working with other WTO members and the WTO Secretariat, as they formulate U.S. positions both in dispute settlement matters and international trade negotiations.

    Externs conduct research related to ongoing disputes, historical information related to the WTO dispute settlement process, and negotiations on potential reforms to the rules governing dispute settlement in the WTO. Externs also assist USTR staff in preparing for meetings related to the panel selection and organizational processes. During the externship at the Mission, legal externs also will have the unique opportunity to attend hearings of dispute settlement panels, the Appellate Body, and arbitrators in particular WTO disputes. At present, many of these hearings are not public and only members of a government delegation may attend.

    About the Applicant

    As the Mission staff manages a heavy workload, externs will assume significant responsibility under the supervision of the three legal advisors. It is critical that selected externs possess excellent legal research and writing skills. Ideal applicants have a demonstrated interest in international trade law. The position is open only to U.S. citizens; the selected applicant will need to obtain a U.S. Government security clearance.

    To learn more about the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and the U.S. Mission to the WTO, please visit

  • United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Geneva

    The aim of the internship is to support UNICEF’s engagement with human rights mechanisms in Geneva, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic review.


    UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential. 

    Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone. 

    And we never give up. For every child, rights.

    Advocating for the promotion and protection of the rights of every child, everywhere, is at the core of UNICEF’s mandate. In over 190 countries, UNICEF supports Governments and civil society in making the Convention on the Rights of the Child a reality for all children. The Human Rights Unit in the Programme Group Leadership Team supports the Organisation in taking a human rights and child rights-based approach to its work at all levels, from policies to programmes. In particular, the Human Rights Unit focuses on promoting greater accountability for child rights, including through engagement with human rights mechanisms.

    How can you make a difference? 

    The aim of the internship is to support UNICEF’s engagement with human rights mechanisms in Geneva, including the Committee on the Rights of the Child, Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic review.

    The intern will work under the direct supervision of the Geneva-based Human Rights Specialist, and will undertake the following tasks:

    • Attend sessions and pre-sessions of the Committee on the Rights of the Child and prepare internal notes for the record for use by UNICEF country offices.
    • Cover meetings at the Human Rights Council and follow side events and informal consultations on resolutions and prepare internal notes.
    • Attend sessions of other treaty bodies and take notes as required.
    • Attend other meetings on relevant issues and take notes as required.
    • Assist in other activities as required.
  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)

    Office of the Legal Counsel

    The World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations. It is dedicated to developing a balanced and accessible international intellectual property (IP) system which rewards creativity, stimulates innovation, and contributes to economic development while safeguarding the public interest.

    WIPO was established by the WIPO Convention in 1967 with a mandate from its member states to promote the protection of IP throughout the world through cooperation among states and in collaboration with other international organizations.

    Nature of the Extern’s Work and Supervision

    The student will be doing research for and assisting the Legal Counsel in the performance of his/her work. It generally covers host state relations, contracts, research, and memos on treaty law questions, as well as general international law questions (administrative, constitutional, and general) that come up in the practice of law in an international organization.

    Important Information for Students

    WIPO will take one student. An international law distribution course is a requirement. A course in intellectual property law is not required. French or Spanish language skills would be an asset, but is not required.

    This placement site may provide a stipend for its interns. The amount may vary depending on the year and the individual student’s overall financial aid package. The student will need to register with Swiss tax authorities, and may incur tax liability (Swiss and US).

    Judicial Institute

    Organizational Setting

    The internship is located in the WIPO Judicial Institute, within the IP and Innovation Ecosystems Sector of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 

    The WIPO Judicial Institute, in collaboration with other relevant WIPO areas, works to empower judiciaries to fulfill their vital role in ensuring that intellectual property (IP), innovation and creative ecosystems in Member States are balanced and effective. It complements the work of the WIPO Arbitration and Mediation Center, as together these encompass the full range of options for the resolution of IP disputes. It also contributes to wider and more effective use of WIPO’s services, knowledge and data through the WIPO Lex database.

    The Institute’s work in 2022-2023 will focus on:

    • Fostering increased transnational dialogue for the judicial community through the annual WIPO IP Judges Forum and other judicial colloquia, to exchange expertise on the most pressing IP challenges, to observe judicial approaches of other countries and to gain insight to strengthen courts’ own analyses;
    • Undertaking targeted studies to promote in-depth understanding of topics of relevance to the global IP judiciary, and to support policy choices in the judicial administration of IP, which may encompass legislative, court administration and procedural reform;
    • Contributing to increased IP knowledge and skills in all Member States by working with national and regional judicial authorities to provide a holistic suite of tailored capacity building support and resources for judiciaries, premised on national ownership and sustainability and aligned with the legal traditions, and economic and social circumstances of Member States;
    • Through refined data collections and an improved user interface, facilitating use of the rich offerings of WIPO Lex as the global knowledge base for IP-related treaties, national and regional laws, and judicial decisions and judicial systems information, for a wider, general audience.

    More information on the work of the WIPO Judicial Institute is available at:

    Duties and Responsibilities

    The intern will support:

    • studies on the IP litigation landscape that include empirical research on the impact of cost of IP court litigation and enhancing access to justice for SMEs, by undertaking research and producing preliminary drafts;
    • the Institute’s publications, by producing preliminary drafts, editing, proofreading and formatting;
    • the organization of the WIPO IP Moot Competition, by providing general programmatic and administrative support;
    • the organization of WIPO judicial education programs, by drafting working documents and case scenarios, undertaking country-specific research, and providing general programmatic and administrative support; and
    • technical assistance to policy reform in the court administration of IP disputes, by undertaking research and producing preliminary drafts. 

    This placement site may provide a stipend for its interns. The amount may vary depending on the year and the individual student’s overall financial aid package. The student will need to register with Swiss tax authorities, and may incur tax liability (Swiss and US).