Nineteen Harvard Law School students have been awarded the 2015 Chayes International Public Service Fellowship this summer. They are working abroad in China, Colombia, France, Ghana, India, Kenya, Myanmar, Namibia, Palestine, South Africa, Switzerland, Thailand, Uganda, and the United Kingdom, as well as in Washington, DC. Read the 2015 Chayes Fellows Biographies.
I really enjoyed my summer working with Open Society Afghanistan in Kabul. I spent the first half of my summer researching the role of Afghan civil society organizations in the peace and reconciliation process, which involved interviewing dozens of human rights organizations and activists in Afghanistan, and drafting a report that evaluated their progress and offered recommendations for the way forward. During the second half of my summer, I helped the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission – the government’s independent watchdog entity – draft the country’s first legislation offering compensation and assistance to civilian victims of the conflict. In addition to these projects, I also helped with the monitoring and evaluation of Open Society’s grantees, which took me to a number of interesting locations, including Herat where I visited Afghanistan’s only law school clinical program.
Everyone in my office was incredibly welcoming, and while I hadn’t given much thought beforehand to the fact that I’d be the only ex-pat working in the office, it was something that I truly came to appreciate. Both in and out of the office, I took every chance I could to practice Dari with Afghans, which was a great way to learn more about the country’s politics, history, and culture. Working in Afghanistan wasn’t without its challenges, but it was an incredibly rewarding experience, and I am grateful to the Chayes fellowship program for its support.
“There is so much interesting work to be done here that it is impossible to sample all of it without staying for a longer period of time. There are many challenges to a successful prosecution of senior Khmer Rouge leaders, and the legal team does an amazing job of leaping over the many hurdles between them and their objectives.
I had a great introduction to the Court in my first week, when I spent my time attending hearings and read the constitutive documents of this hybrid tribunal.. I was shocked by the raw and brutal stories narrated by victims of the Khmer Rouge. Someone had warned me that Cambodia is a depressing place, and I really do not want to perpetuate that belief. This country is beautiful, joyful, resurgent, and proud. The very fact that it has the tenacity to pursue a long and expensive prosecution of its former leaders is evidence of how pragmatic and hopeful its citizens are. By sharing their experiences, Cambodians have designed a mutual self-help system that allows them to restore their faith in humanity. Nothing is more optimistic than that.
Since that first exposure to the context of the trials, I’ve spent a lot of time working on little parts of the prosecution process. I work for one of the “investigating” judges. The judge I am interning under has an entire team of investigators and analysts working for him to sort and collect evidence. I’m on the legal team, and my primary job is to fit pieces of evidence it into set paradigms of criminality (war crimes, crimes against humanity, genocide, violations of the Cambodian Penal Code etc.)
The most interesting part of this experience (apart from reading authentic documents dating back to 1975) is the weekly meeting that Judge Harmon holds with his legal, analytical, and investigating teams. During these meetings, everyone explains what they are working on, and I get a sense of how each task fits into the bigger scheme. At this stage, we are discussing possible theories of the case, and this will have an impact on how all the evidence is assessed and recorded.
Of course, interning at the UN was not the only reason I wanted to work in Cambodia. Indochina is one of the most interesting places on earth, and I’m very lucky that Harvard Law School and the Chayes Foundation gave me the opportunity to revisit it. This is the only country in the world that sports a ruin (the famous Hindu temple of Angkor Wat) on its flag. And yet, Cambodia is resolutely forward-looking – you can see developmental projects everywhere, even in remote villages. I am continuously surprised, excited, and engaged. For the intrepid traveler, Cambodia is heaven.”
Iram is one of 23 HLS students working this summer in 18 countries under the auspices of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship. Please visit our Chayes Fellowship page to learn more!
“My summer internship with Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers’ Association (BNWLA) has been going well so far. I’ve gotten to work on a number of interesting projects including research on child marriage, two reports monitoring the implementation of Bangladesh’s new domestic violence law (passed in 2010) and human trafficking law (passed in 2012) that will be published, and updating and reorganizing BNWLA’s Legal Service Delivery Manual used by all lawyers in BNWLA’s 40+ legal service delivery centers located throughout the country. I also had an opportunity to visit BNWLA’s shelter home for victims of violence and attend a session at the Supreme Court. Going forward, my projects will include assisting with a two-day regional trafficking workshop with BNWLA’s partners in Bangladesh, India, and Nepal and conducting comparative research on child marriage legislation in order to make recommendations for new legislation on the topic for consideration by the High Court.
Outside of work, living in Dhaka has been an exciting adventure. My living situation is absolutely ideal. I live in a great little neighborhood that is near an outdoor market and a 15-minute cycle rickshaw ride to the office. When I first arrived, the language barrier was more of a challenge than I was anticipating as most people that I interact with on a daily basis don’t speak much English. Let’s just say my phrasebook has come in handy on more than one occasion.”
Lindsay is one of 23 HLS students working this summer in 18 countries under the auspices of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship. Please visit our Chayes Fellowship page to learn more!
Sima is keeping a very intriguing blog of her own about her work and travels this summer. Visit simaatri.blogspot.com to read more!
Sima is one of 23 HLS students working this summer in 18 countries under the auspices of the Chayes International Public Service Fellowship. Please visit our Chayes Fellowship page to learn more!