Pro Bono Volunteer Opportunities
Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti Spring Legal Intern
November 17, 2022
The Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) is seeking dynamic law student interns to help Haitians reclaim their democracy against internal repression and external interference. The profound challenges Haiti is currently facing – including gang violence, hunger, and closed hospitals and schools – are symptoms of a deeper crisis, one that we need interns to help us confront: decades of problematic foreign policies that have robbed Haiti of its resources alongside a Haitian government that has persistently dismantled the country’s democracy with the support of the U.S. government.
IJDH is a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that has been promoting human rights in Haiti since 2004. In partnership with its Haiti-based sister organization Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI), IJDH advocates, litigates, and nurtures networks of advocates to advance human rights in Haiti and to create systemic pathways to justice for marginalized communities, including by holding international actors accountable. IJDH and BAI are at the forefront of confronting impunity for grave human rights violations and gender-based violence, strengthening Haiti’s justice sector, and promoting economic justice alongside accountable and rights-based foreign aid.
IJDH and BAI accomplishments include:
- Working with victims of the 2010 UN-caused cholera epidemic in Haiti to the UN to accept responsibility and commit to a $400 million victim-centered response;
- Effectively supporting the prosecution of top military and paramilitary leadership of Haiti’s de facto dictatorship in the 2000 Raboteau massacre case, considered one of the most important human rights trials in the Americas, and advocating on behalf of victims in proceedings;
- Supporting the prosecution of former dictator Jean-Claude Duvalier for crimes against humanity against the Haitian people and achieving a verdict holding that such crimes are not prescribable under Haitian law;
- Litigating in Haiti alongside local and international advocacy to defend the rights of women and children to support from UN Peacekeeper fathers, including through obtaining a first-of-its-kind child support judgment in Haitian court on behalf of a child fathered by a former UN peacekeeper, which we are working to enforce; and
- Establishing models of networked collaboration that combine grassroots advocacy in Haiti with solidarity networks in the United States and other countries in order to effect change.
Interns are fully integrated into our legal team and work alongside us in a fast-paced, creative, and exciting environment. They work across the full range of IJDH’s activities, including real-time advocacy in response to Haiti’s current crisis. Interns will work with and be supervised by IJDH attorneys, and can expect to be asked to perform some or all of the following:
- Legal research and analysis on a variety of international human rights law topics, including seeking justice for human rights violations by domestic and international actors such as the UN, international financial institutions, and corporate actors (including restitution for the ‘Independence Debt’ imposed on Haiti by France);
- Monitoring and analyzing human rights developments in Haiti, including with respect to justice sector function, women’s empowerment and gender-based violence, democracy and governance challenges, and drivers of insecurity;
- Legal and policy advocacy that contributes to the human rights dialogue on issues that impact justice, accountability, and human rights in Haiti, including presentations before human rights bodies within the UN and Inter-American systems, as well as engagement with Congress, U.S. government officials, and other governments;
- Drafting legal and advocacy documents, including submissions to human rights proceedings in domestic and international fora, human rights reports, public advocacy documents, and submissions to corporate accountability mechanisms;
- Developing IJDH’s legal and advocacy strategy, including through engagement with partner organizations and key stakeholders and collaborators;
- Outreach that engages international media and the public in IJDH’s legal and advocacy work, including drafting advocacy materials, talking points, and press statements, as well as contributing to social media communications;
- General project management support.
Due to continuing Covid-related concerns, the internship is expected to be remote.
- Current 2L, 3L, or LLM students and recent law graduates;
- Demonstrated commitment to human rights and social justice;
- Excellent written and oral communication skills in English;
- Academic and/or professional experience with international and human rights law;
- High level of initiative and self-motivation;
- Ability to handle sensitive relationships and protect the confidentiality of our work and our communications;
- Strong verbal and written skills in French and/or knowledge of Haitian Creole, as well as Haiti-specific experience, are a strong asset but not required; and
- Available to work at minimum 20 hours per week, with flexibility to accommodate academic schedules (may be negotiable).
IJDH is unable to offer financial remuneration for this internship. However, IJDH will fully support applicants in seeking academic credit or funding from their law schools or outside programs.
Law students interested in the position of Spring Legal Intern should submit a cover letter, resume, law school transcript, short unedited legal writing sample (preferably on a topic relating to human rights), and contact information for two references as soon as possible. Please send all application materials electronically in one PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org and include “Legal Intern Spring 2023” in the subject line. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until places are filled, so applicants are strongly encouraged to submit applications early.