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Howard Law Professor Seeks Intern for UN Permanent Forum for People of African Descent

 Photo Courtesy of UN Women 2019 event via Flickr.

Justin Hansford, the executive director of the Thurgood Marshall Center for Civil Rights (TMCRC), a Howard University School of  Law professor, a Howard University alumnus and the U.S. candidate for the United Nations (UN) Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (PFPAD)  is currently seeking an intern to support his work with the UN PFPAD. 

The UN PFPAD is a 10-member advisory body established in August of last year that works closely with the UN Human Rights Council. Hansford was elected by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) as the organization’s U.S. candidate for the inaugural 2022-2024 term.

The internship will be virtual, part-time, and span throughout the spring 2023 semester, with an expected commitment of 10-15 hours per week. The TMCRC is encouraging applications from sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a demonstrated interest in human rights, international affairs, African studies, or African American studies.  Graduate students who are obtaining postgraduate degrees in International Affairs, Africana studies, African studies, or African American studies are also encouraged to apply.

Earlier this semester, Hansford discussed PFPAD’s potential and how he planned to create ways for Howard students and members of U.S. civil society to contribute to the work of the UN PFPAD with The Hilltop. The internship serves as an opportunity for students to participate.

The UNGA is the primary policy-making organ of the UN. Composed of 193 Member States, it provides a forum for multilateral discussion of international issues covered by the Charter of the United Nations. According to the announcement by the TMCRC, the “objective of the United Nations PFPAD internship is to provide students with an interest in human rights issues the opportunity to familiarize themselves with practical human rights work in the field that complements their academic studies,”

With the UN recognizing 2015-2024 as the International Decade for People of African Descent, members of the international community expect formal legislation to address contemporary and historical injustices people of African descent experience worldwide, similar to other international decade declarations issued. Discussing the international decade for people of African descent, Hansford mentioned his aspirations during his tenure working with the UN PFPAD.

“One of the things that we’re going to do before my term is draft a ‘Declaration of Rights’ for people of African descent. I would love to have a big event on campus about it,” Hansford said.

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“We could push for a seat for the Black diaspora in the UN General Assembly, UN Security Council, or at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. My mentality is ‘there are many different things we could do in terms of international economics.’ We talk to people in very powerful positions, and they have to consider our opinion when it comes to issues affecting Black people,” he continued.  

The UN Security Council has the primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security. The 15-member body takes the lead in determining the existence of a threat to international peace or acts of aggression. The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans and grants to the governments of low- and middle-income countries for capital projects, while the International Monetary Fund is a major financial agency of the UN that is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

Understanding that the term of the internship ends in the spring, Hansford confirmed with The Hilltop that the intern will be able to support work with the UN PFPAD beyond June 2023. The TMCRC director also confirmed that non-Howard students can apply for the role as it is an opportunity for professional development and leadership development for any who choose to participate. 

“The student(s) participating in this role will interact with leaders from around the world, learn more about community leadership tactics and strategies locally, nationally, and globally and become familiar with the UN system, which can be used for global advocacy,” Hansford said.

Beyond the internship, Hansford also confirmed that there are other opportunities on the horizon that Howard students can expect to hear about regarding the UN PFPAD.

“We will also be offering students the opportunity to work on the PFPAD through the Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center. It may involve helping us convene events or organize engagement with grassroots community organizations,” he said.

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To apply, applicants must submit a resume, cover letter, and a three to five-page writing sample to unforum.tmcrc@gmail.com. The TMCRC announcement stated that applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position is filled. 

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply as soon as possible. The candidate will begin the first week of the spring 2023 semester.

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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