Claire Ivers - Human Rights Consultant
Claire Ivers worked for Human Rights Watch (HRW) in Brussels for over a decade where she was responsible for the organisation’s advocacy work with the EU and its institutions. During this time, she also co-chaired the influential Human Rights and Democracy Network, a coalition of over 50 human rights and democracy organisations. Claire left HRW late last year and set up a human rights consultancy practice that provides advisory and capacity building services to national and international human rights organisations. Amongst other projects, she is currently leading a project at the EU level for Anti-Slavery International focusing on forced and child labour in global value chains. She talks to us about her time at UCC.
Course/subjects studied in University College Cork
Bachelor degree in Law and French (BCLF) at UCC School of Law. In my third year, I had the opportunity to study law at Robert Schuman University in Strasbourg and also interned for an Irish member of the European Parliament.
Best memory of UCC
This is a difficult question as there are so many great memories to choose from. One year I was chosen to represent UCC at the Model United Nations in Oxford which was an excellent learning experience for me. Besides receiving a great education, I had the opportunity to get to know people from across Ireland and further afield. Law balls and dinners were definitely a highlight as was hanging out with friends in the old bar and the ‘Mini’ restaurant. My wonderful grandmother would also travel up to Cork city to meet me once a week for lunch. I miss those days!
How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
In my final year, I had the opportunity to study human rights law and something just clicked. I knew that this was a field that I wanted to work in so after graduating from UCC I pursued a Masters in Public International Law, specialising in human rights, at the Erasmus University Rotterdam. My education combined with my Erasmus year experience allowed me to break into the human rights world starting with an internship at Amnesty International's EU office and I then moved onto Human Rights Watch.
What is your advice to current UCC students?
Time passes by too quickly so enjoy every moment of university life. Join Societies and Clubs, party but don’t skip lectures (!) and open your hearts and minds to students from different cultures and backgrounds. You’ll learn from them as they will from you. Also, don’t worry if you are struggling with what to do with your life post UCC. Follow your passions and interests and see where that takes you. Some of the most successful and interesting people I know changed fields numerous times before finding the right path for them.
What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
This is an easy one. My parents, especially my mother Ethel, played such a pivotal role in me getting to where I am today. My mother unfortunately didn’t have the opportunity to go to university but always understood the value of education. She did everything in her power to ensure that my sisters and I studied at UCC. Academically I learned so much from all my lecturers and peers over the years.
Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
I loved attending UCC Philosophical Society meetings and participating in the sometimes-heated debates. I remember well one of the first meetings being cancelled due to security concerns as hundreds of students were protesting the participation of controversial right-wing historian. There was never a dull day at UCC! In my final year, I joined UCC Dramat society and acted in ‘The Year of the Hiker’ production at the Granary Theatre. This was an amazing experience.
Favourite UCC legend or superstition
The superstition that sticks in my mind that if walk through the central path of the Quad then you are destined to fail your exams. I was never brave enough to prove this superstition wrong.