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Internship - Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section in Geneva, Switzerland

  • Organization: UNHCR - United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
  • Location:
  • Grade: Internship
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
    • Malaria, Tuberculosis and other infectious diseases
  • Closing Date: 2020-09-21

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Terms of Reference
Protection Policy and Legal Advice section
(Division of International Protection)

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is offering two full-time internship positions within the Protection Policy and Legal Advice section in the Division of International Protection at UNHCR¿s HQ in Geneva, Switzerland.

UNHCR is a global organisation dedicated to saving lives, protecting rights and building a better future for refugees, displaced communities and stateless people. Every year, millions of men, women and children are forced to flee their homes to escape conflict and persecution. We work in over 130 countries, using our expertise to protect and care for millions.

Duration: 3 months (October to December 2020)
Expected start date: Monday 4 October 2020

Duty station: Geneva, Switzerland (see further under `conditions¿ below)

Organizational Context
UNHCR provides legal protection to refugees and other persons of concern to the Office across the globe to ensure they can live a dignified life, while fully and freely exercising their fundamental human rights.

The Division of International Protection (DIP) leads the progressive development of international law and protection policy relating to refugees, forced displacement broadly and statelessness. The Division provides guidance on the legal and operational complexities of displacement, migration, refugees, asylum and resettlement regarding protection of persons and populations of concern to the Organization.

Duties and Responsibilities
As a member of the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section (PPLA) in the Division of International Protection, the intern will provide valuable assistance to the section, particularly to the legal team. The focus of the internship is the ongoing legal protection work of UNHCR vis-à-vis refugees and will familiarize the intern with the daily realities of UNHCR HQ.

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, namely international refugee law and human rights law, and (ii) to practice and develop `professional working skills¿, such as time management, prioritization, management of tasks, team work, presentation skills, legal research and drafting skills. The intern will be directly involved in various legal and policy aspects of PPLA¿s work. The engagement may also include some routine elements (e.g. assisting with the preparation of meetings and note taking).

The intern will be tasked with the following:
i. Updating and/or drafting research paper(s) and other documents on priority topic(s) of relevance to the work of the Section and UNHCR;
ii. Contributing to and assisting PPLA colleagues, in particular in the context of legal and policy guidance documents, domestic legislation and judicial engagement, by
¿ conducting legal research and analysis on topics of relevance to UNHCR's policy and legal work relevant for the protection of refugees;
¿ attending meetings and taking notes;
¿ editing position papers and other legal documents; and when appropriate, participating 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 and others.

Minimum Qualifications and Skills required:
In order to be considered for an internship, candidates must meet the following eligibility criteria:
¿ Current student or recent (those persons who completed their studies within one year of applying) graduate in international law, preferably including human rights or refugee law, at a graduate law school programme from a university or higher education facility accredited by UNESCO;
¿ Have completed at least two years of undergraduate studies in a field relevant or of interest to the work of the Organization; and
¿ Fluency in English (both oral and written) and working knowledge in a second UN language.

An individual whose father, mother, son, daughter, brother or sister is a staff member of UNHCR, including a Temporary Appointment holder or a member of the Affiliate Workforce, is not eligible for an internship.

Additional Skills and requirements:
¿ Strong analytical skills;
¿ Excellent written and oral communication skills;
¿ Creative thinking;
¿ Ability to work independently and in a team;
¿ Computer literacy (MS Office);
¿ Favourable disposition to working effectively and harmoniously with colleagues from varied cultures and backgrounds;
¿ Demonstrated affinity with the rights and well-being of refugees.

This internship is full time (40 hours per week) Monday to Friday. The successful candidate will be based with the legal team in PPLA working in Geneva, Switzerland. However, bearing in mind COVID-19 imposed restrictions, the tenure may necessitate remote working arrangements as indicated above.

While an internship with the Protection Policy and Legal Advice Section is normally carried out from UNHCR¿s Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, due to the COVID-19 pandemic it may not be possible to travel to and work in Switzerland. Therefore, in case travel to and work in Switzerland is not possible, this internship is undertaken remotely (potentially at the intern¿s home and/or in an alternative location to be determined and agreed with UNHCR). Even where travel to and work in Switzerland is possible, the intern may be expected to work from her or his home residence for intermittent periods.


Interns who do not receive financial support from an outside party will receive an allowance to partially help to cover the cost of food, local transportation and living expenses.

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing or training).

We welcome applications from candidates with a refugee background. Please note that the closing date for this internship advertisement is Monday 21 September 2020 (midnight Geneva time.
We do our best to provide you the most accurate info, but closing dates may be wrong on our site. Please check on the recruiting organization's page for the exact info. Candidates are responsible for complying with deadlines and are encouraged to submit applications well ahead.
Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.

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