The UN General Assembly proclaimed 10 December as Human Rights Day in 1950, to bring to the attention ‘of the peoples of the world’ the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. To honour this, we wanted to inspire Bath students to consider and explore the wide range of opportunities within this challenging but rewarding field.
When you think of Human Rights, the first organisations that probably pop into your head are Amnesty International or Human Rights Watch, who produce research into human rights abuses and lead high profile campaigns which are often reported in the popular press. In reality a diverse range of organisations are involved in human rights and offer a variety of career opportunities - you could be working for an NGO, relevant pressure groups, in publishing/ journalism, the legal sector, for research organisations, charities, specialist consultancies, in central/local government, for social enterprises and in CSR departments of large corporations. This very helpful resource produced by SOAS Careers Service lists organisations and bodies whose work is specifically related to human rights.
It is worth bearing in mind that Human Rights is a broad employment area, not a specific job. Therefore, it is important to step back and reflect on your own values and the motivation driving your interest in this field. You could work as a fundraiser, logistics manager, policy and advocacy coordinator, human rights, education manager, audio visual archivist, administrative assistant, women’s rights researcher, website developer, accountant, youth worker, nurse, public relations officer, lobbyist, solicitor, barrister or a campaigner. This list is by no means exhaustive so think about the kind of day-to-day work you are interested in!
Unlike some other sectors, often there are no clearly defined career entry points and progression paths; therefore a common challenge for many graduates is to find a 'way in'. One of the ways to get your foot through the door is through volunteering. This is not only a useful way to confirm whether a career in human rights is for you it will also help you in building your network and your CV. Check out the volunteering opportunities via the Bath Student Union or explore opportunities on the Do It website. I think the advice on the Idealist website is excellent and offers food for thought if you are considering working in Human Rights.
Lastly, do consider other sectors such as International Development as there is a significant overlap with human rights.