This course has a strong emphasis on making students experience some of the real-life challenges human rights professionals encounter. A great component to this objective are the placement opportunities that CAHR offer. These are unique opportunities to work with NGOs and their partners in a human rights related issue.
While students can choose between placements in York or Malaysia, I decided to stay in York. As a student and lawyer from Mexico, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the human rights challenges York and the UK are facing.
Human rights city
I had the opportunity to be involved in a project with the York Human Rights City Network (YHRCN). YHRCN is an organisation which advocates, researches, acts as a network and organises events, all regarding human rights in York. YHRCN has several partners. One of them is the North Yorkshire Police (NYP). Our team was composed of 4 members from Bangladesh, Belize, Mexico and the United Kingdom, working with both the YHRCN and the NYP. Our aim was to find the extent to which the Human Rights Based Approach is embedded in the NYP. We conducted interviews with 24 police officers of different ranks and departments to get a better sense of their approach to human rights in their everyday work-related activities.
The preparation, the placement, and the work we did to produce our project output were a unique experience for me. I learned a lot about what is needed to conduct interviews; since it was the first time I was interviewing people about human rights, it was very interesting. We had the chance to practise teamwork and project management abilities. I embraced the opportunity to interact with the different personalities and cultural backgrounds of my teammates. The whole process of the placement helped me to develop skills I had not put into practice before, which will be very valuable in my future work as a human rights lawyer.
The placement was an experience which got me out of my comfort zone. It made me aware of some of the different challenges that entail working with an NGO and a team in the field of human rights.