Wake Forest Law to offer Geneva Externship Program in January 2018

Photo of the United Nations

Wake Forest Law continues to expand its practical courses and international program offerings with a new externship program in Geneva, Switzerland, beginning spring semester of 2018. Professor John Knox, an internationally recognized expert on human rights and international environmental law, says,  “I think to some degree it’s an experiment, but it’s something we need to do.”

The program is similar to the law school’s already established Washington, D. C., Metropolitan Externship Program, in that it offers students credit for interning in governmental or non-profit organizations. 

Geneva is the location of a large number of international organizations, including the United Nations and the World Trade Organization, and of many civil society organizations that focus on international issues, according to Professor Knox, whose appointment as the U.N.’s first Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment ends in 2018.

“I have brought students with me, and from their perspective, (they value) getting to meet people working in national organizations and interacting with them,” he said.

In the Geneva Internship Program, students will earn 13 credit hours, three of which will be graded, and they will also be permitted to enroll in up to two hours of directed research. Each week, participants would spend an average of 35 hours interning in their respective international organization or a non-governmental organization focused on international work. Under the immediate supervision of experienced attorneys, students would engage in tasks performed by lawyers in Geneva organizations.

The tight-knit program would only include two or three students initially. Professor David Gottlieb, who also directs the D.C. Metropolitan Externship Program, will administer the Geneva program remotely. Professor Knox will meet with students in Geneva in March 2018 when he is there to present a report to the UN Human Rights Council.

Students interested in applying are asked to submit a statement of interest, resume, writing sample and a letter of recommendation. International Law or another relevant international law course would be prerequisite for the program. During the program’s inaugural year, the selection criteria will include the ability to match student interest with available placement sites and the student’s willingness and ability to assume responsibility for others. The ability to speak French (or any other foreign language) is not required, but some knowledge of international law is. Applicants need to have taken, or be currently enrolled in, at least one international law course.

At this time, the four possible locations for the externships are: the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL); the Universal Rights Group (URG); the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and UN Environment.