The field of human rights contains a cornucopia of job options. Human rights emerged as a career path after the United Nations composed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights following World War II. These rights essentially comprise those that we see as justified because we are human. Human rights has blossomed into a career field involving different types of workplaces, work, education, skills and benefits.
Occupations in human rights exist practically anywhere. Within this field, you can focus on international or domestic issues. The domestic human rights field contains non-governmental, governmental, community-based and faith-based organizations. In addition to these organizations, the international human rights field also includes international non-governmental organizations. Despite the differing terms, all institutions contribute to ensuring human rights.
Organizations address human rights in various manners such as advocacy, direct service, policy development and scholarship. Advocacy involves raising awareness of human rights injustices (for example, Amnesty International). Direct service consists of delivering aid into the hands of people in need (for example, Doctors without Borders). Policy development includes working and lobbying with institutions, such as governments, and shaping an area’s policies and laws (for example, Human Rights Watch). Scholarship work involves research and education about human rights; educational institutions often house this work .
People from various academic disciplines work in human rights; however, many colleges offer human rights courses. Having training in research, writing and community organizing make you a marketable advocate candidate. Organizations generally require an advanced graduate school degree for policy development and research. Knowing the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other similar documents will also provide a foundation for human rights work.
Despite human rights workers' varying educational backgrounds, all need basic skills. People who work in human rights exhibit strong written and oral communication abilities. They are also flexible and prepared to implement a wide variety of tasks with minimal resources. Speaking multiple languages and living abroad prepare you for working in an international organization. Practicing passion for human rights advocacy proves essential for any human rights worker.
The human rights field continues to expand with job opportunities. Paid positions for human rights workers exist; however, obtaining them can prove difficult. In many cases, volunteering or interning at a human rights organization will help you gain a paid position. However, human rights jobs reward advocates in any capacity with more than monetary gain.
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