Human Rights as a Career Option


Human Rights Day is observed every year on December 10 - the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This year, the Human Rights Day kicks off a year-long campaign to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a milestone document that proclaimed the inalienable rights which everyone is inherently entitled to as a human being - regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is the most widely translated document in the world, available in more than 500 languages. Today being Human Rights Day, we would like to publish about some career options related to human rights activists. 

Human rights are moral principles or norms, which describe certain standards of human behaviour, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law. They are commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights "to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being," and which are "inherent in all human beings", regardless of their nation, location, language, religion, ethnic origin or any other status. They are applicable everywhere and at every time in the sense of being universal, and they are egalitarian in the sense of being the same for everyone. 

Human rights in India is an issue complicated by the country's large size and population, widespread poverty, lack of proper education and its diverse culture, even though being the world's largest sovereign, secular, democratic republic. The Constitution of India provides for Fundamental Rights, which include freedom of religion. Clauses also provide for freedom of speech, as well as the separation of executive and judiciary and freedom of movement within the country and abroad. The country also has an independent judiciary and well as bodies to look into issues of human rights.

Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever be our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated, interdependent and indivisible.

There are different institutions and universities that offer courses related to human rights. Individuals from legal profession may also come and join this area of work as they have more advantage. There are special diploma and certificates programme apart from masters courses. Individuals who are interested in human rights may also look for different online courses. 

Some of the courses are The Rights of Refugees, A Guide to the International Courts and Tribunals, Human Rights and Development, Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Comparing Theory and Practice, Investigating and Prosecuting International Crimes, The EU and Human Rights, Revolutionary Ideas: Borders, Elections, Constitutions, Prisons, The Age of Sustainable Development, From Freedom Rides to Ferguson: Narratives of Nonviolence in the American Civil Rights Movement, Human Rights: The Right to Freedom of Expression, International Human Rights, Storytelling for Change, Introduction to Human Rights, Human Rights Theory and Philosophy, Confronting Gender Based Violence: Global Lessons for Healthcare Workers, Workers' Rights in a Global Economy ; Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom; Gender Equality and Sexual Diversity, International Women's Health & Human Rights; Human Rights Activism, Advocacy and Change , Freedom of Expression in the Age of Globalization, Essentials of Nonprofit Strategy, Human Rights for Open Societies, Decent Work in Global Supply Chains, etc . 

It may not be possible to get a quick job with a degree or qualification, so one need to take up challenges for few days. A Masters degree alone often does not set you apart to grab the attention of recruiters. One must make the CV and add additional qualifications and skills to gain attention from the recruiters. There are many NGOs which offer volunteering options and also paid internship.

If anyone is interested to build a global career related to human rights then they may look into certain expertise and skills. One of them is knowledge of foreign languages. Many human rights jobs in the United Nations require applicants to be fluent in at least two of the six official UN languages - Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Knowing more of these languages means having more advantage to be globally placed and work with the UN. Similarly global organisations and international organisations look for people with more proficiency in different languages. 

Apart from communication and language skills, one may try to be a good storyteller. Those who know how to tell stories are often great influencers on social media, inspiring web content writers or terrific public speakers. There are free online courses in Transmedia Storytelling, teaching you how to tell stories across multiple traditional and digital delivery platforms in an effective way. One must be aware of how to negotiate and also learn how to manage a project.  To learn the basics and principles of project management is a very worthwhile investment of your time. One should be expert in networking as networking with other professionals from the same field helps in career enhancement. Knowledge of all the core life skills is helpful for the aspirants. 

We might be wondering what are the job profiles or job titles related to human rights. Well, some of terms used are human rights activist, human rights defender, human rights advocate, human rights consultant, human rights campaigner, etc. There are special agencies under the UN which deals with human rights. OHCHR (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights) has been focused with the human rights issue. All other organisations related to UN are also focusing on human rights. Similarly there are many other organisations like Amnesty International, Oxfam, etc. 

Assam and other States of the north-eastern region have been affected by conflicts. There have been many cases of human rights violation by State or non-State actors. This brings opportunity for the young people to work for human rights for the justice of the people. One needs to have a good strategy and plan to work in the region. One must be well equipped with technology like having good knowledge of internet and online media. 

Japan Foundation for UNU (JFUNU) Scholarship: The United Nations University is offering sustainability scholarship for outstanding applicants from developing countries. Scholarships are available for undertaking M.Sc. programme at UNU. The Japan Foundation for UNU (JFUNU) Scholarship is available for outstanding applicants from developing countries who can demonstrate a need for financial assistance, and they will be considered as candidates for the award of the scholarship. The United Nations University Institute for the Advanced Study of Sustainability (UNU-IAS) is a leading research and teaching institute based in Tokyo, Japan. Last date for sending applications is February 28, 2018. 
Environmental Fellowships: The Harvard University Center for the Environment is awarding approximately six environmental fellowships for the 2018 cohort. Fellowships are available in the Environmental program to enable recent doctorate recipients to use and expand Harvard's extraordinary resources to tackle complex environmental problems. Last date for sending applications is January 17, 2018.
Ranjan K Baruah is a social activist and career mentor who has conducted career awareness programme in different parts of Assam and Northeast India and can be reached at [email protected] or 98640 55558 for any career related queries