Careers in Human Rights Law
Students / Graduate Testimonials
Here we find Testimonials from UCC Law Students / Graduates on careers in Human Rights Law
Paul Bradfield (currently working at the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda)
'Enrolling at UCC was the perfect outlet for me to study in detail a range of modules on Human Rights, Criminal Justice, International Criminal Law. The LLM course allowed me to cultivate my deep interest in human rights and international law. On an intellectual level, the staff thoroughly enabled and excellently prepared me for my career path ahead. Since graduating from UCC, I was called to Bar of Ireland (Kings Inns) and have worked as a Defence Lawyer at the ICTY in the Hague as a member of the Karadzic Defence Team, and at the ICTR in Arusha on the Nizeyimana Defence Team.'
Aengus Carroll LLM (International Human Rights Law & Public Policy) Graduate, UCC
Having worked for 15 years at grassroots level in LGBT human rights advocacy, it seemed like a logical step to get a deeper understanding of the legal contexts in which rights are attained. It is hugely fulfilling to return to an educational setting with the benefit of ‘real world’ experience, and to find that experience can at times feed directly in. The energy and rigour of the lecturers on the fulltime 1-year LL.M in Human Rights Law and Public Policy is challenging to keep up with, and the work is undeniably hard, but it is very worthwhile. The excellent reputation of the Law Faculty at Cork precedes it and is well deserved.
SarahJane Corbett BCL International, LLM (International Human Rights Law & Public Policy) Graduate, UCC
During my undergraduate studies at UCC, I developed a notable interest in human rights law. Upon completion of my degree, I was keen to advance my understanding of the practical and theoretical underpinnings of human rights and chose to pursue a LLM in International Human Rights Law & Public Policy. I thoroughly enjoyed the programme, particularly the unique international human rights clinic module during which there were several guest seminars and workshops with key actors in the human rights field. A further strength of the programme is the freedom it gives to students to tailor the course to their own interests. Importantly, the lecturers and programme director were always available to provide guidance and support. I am currently working as a legal assistant at FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres) headquarters. I have no doubt that the practical knowledge, experience and insight gained during my master studies gives me the distinctive edge required in today’s ever competitive job market. I would highly recommend the programme and am very proud and fortunate to be part of the LLM in International Human Rights Law & Public Policy alumni.
Douglas Cubie (PhD candidate, University College Cork)
My interest in refugee law stemmed from working for Amnesty International in Hong Kong in the summer of 1997 during my LL.B studies. Having arrived in the days following the transfer of sovereignty from Britain to China, I had to track the laws and policies as they changed with the new administration. With many people leaving Hong Kong in the run-up to the handover, this sparked my interest in the forces that drove people to leave their homes.
On completion of my LL.B I worked as an intern for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in London and Brussels, before securing a job as Legal Officer in the Irish Refugee Council. However, I had always intended to work in the field, so after a productive couple of years in Ireland, I headed to Nepal to work for UNHCR in the Bhutanese refugee camps as a UN Volunteer funded by the Department of Foreign Affairs. This led to a second posting as Protection Officer for UNHCR in the Republic of Congo where I organised and managed the voluntary return of Congolese refugees from neighbouring Gabon – over some pretty unforgiving roads! My time in Congo led me to question further the root causes of population displacement and the need for developmental, as well as human rights, guarantees for people to remain in the homes in safety. On my return to Ireland, I commenced work for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) first in information provision on IOM’s activities in Ireland and elsewhere such as following the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, and later in programme management and providing training to Gardaí and frontline staff to counter the trafficking of persons.
Through my experience with UNHCR and IOM, the need for humanitarian assistance for many people, both in their place of origin and in regions of asylum, was clear. This led me to work for the Irish Red Cross and the finalisation of their Tsunami Relief and Recovery Programme in Sri Lanka, The Maldives and Indonesia. The global incidence and awareness of forced population movements due to natural and human-made disasters has increased in recent years. With climate change, urbanisation and the increase in people living in areas at risk of meteorological and geophysical disasters, it is an unfortunate reality that the need for skilled professionals in humanitarian assistance is only likely to grow in the coming years.
Fiona Finn, CEO Nasc, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre
I focused on the Human Rights modules throughout my legal education and in particular through the LLM programme in UCC. Following graduation I was fortunate to be afforded the opportunity to apply both the legal theory and practice gained to my work at Nasc, The Irish Immigrant Support Centre. I started work as a Legal Information Officer and subsequently became CEO of the organisation. Working in the human rights field and in particular in the area of asylum and immigration law is hugely challenging but, ultimately very rewarding. This is a very dynamic area of law which offers an opportunity to effectively engage with and influence national policy and to make a profound difference to the lives of asylum seekers, refugees and migrants in Ireland and internationally.
I completed my BCL degree at UCC in 2009 and subsequently decided to pursue an LLM in International Human Rights Law at the University of Essex. During my LLM studies I completed an internship with the Children’s Legal Centre UK and also had an opportunity to work on two projects dealing with the right to health. Having received my masters degree in 2010, I came back to Ireland and have since then been very fortunate to have had the opportunity to gain a range of experience in the field of human rights. I spent some time working with the Irish Family Planning Association, the Irish Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International before working for two years in the Human Rights Unit of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Having worked with both non-governmental organisations and Ireland’s National Human Rights Institution my time in the Department was a unique opportunity to gain an insight into how the state approaches its obligations under international human rights law an how Ireland engages on human rights issues in international fora, such as the UN Human Rights Council.
I recently re-joined Amnesty International and am now working as Legal Officer in the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Team. In particular, our work revolves around building political and public understanding of and support for economic, social and cultural rights and finding avenues to strengthen the protection of these rights in Ireland.
Saorlaith Ni Bhroin
Saorlaith Ni Bhroin
Over the past four years I have worked at national, supranational and international levels. I have largely concentrated my focus on the field of migration, starting as a policy intern at UNHCR and ECRE and later becoming Assistant Migration Officer at Caritas Europa (Brussels). My current position as PA to the CEO at the Immigrant Council of Ireland allows me to extend my expertise to issues such as human trafficking and racism.
My work experience has included participation in cosmopolitan, stimulating environments, with colleagues who share my interests and idealism. Evolving challenges and political considerations have largely shaped my creative, analytical and strategic skills.
The field of Human Rights Law has become increasingly professionalised, affording diverse career possibilities as well as the opportunity for meaningful, realistic engagement in some of the most significant issues of the 21st century.
Having practised at the Bar in Ireland for four years, I worked for the United Nations Development Programme on their Rule of Law and Security Programme in Somalia as an Access to Justice Specialist (sponsored by United Nations Volunteers). I assisted in training and building the capacity of the legal profession and supporting legal aid initiatives for vulnerable communities, especially those living in areas with no functioning state institutions. The LLM at UCC enabled me to secure a full time position with the Free Legal Advice Centres upon graduating, an experience which stood to me when it came to working with both civil society and legal aid partners in Somaliland. While a student at UCC, I completed internships and placements with NASC, the Irish Immigrant Support Centre and worked with FLAC student society. The opportunity to publish from my LLM dissertation, which focused on gender, human rights and refugee law, was of great advantage when subsequently applying for jobs in the field. I now work as an Advisory Counsel in the Office of the Attorney General in the criminal law area.
Yvonne O’Sullivan LLM (International Human Rights Law & Public Policy) Graduate, UCC
"The LLM in Human Rights Law and Public Policy provided me with a strong practical understanding of human rights instruments and how civil society organisations, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and governments implement these instruments. The LLM allows you to choose your particular focus with a wide range of optional modules to suit your particular interests. I felt the use of guest speakers was important for students to get a real sense of how the law is applied in areas such as international criminal law, immigration and refugee law and human rights law, to mention just a few. Before applying for this LLM I had been volunteering and interning in NGO’s mainly working on refugees and asylum issues, I also have an academic background in international peace studies. I believed the LLM in Human Rights Law would provide me with a greater edge for employment in the NGO sector."
Nick Sore BSc, LLM (International Human Rights Law and Public Policy) Graduate, UCC
I am currently working as the Child Protection Officer for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in the Cairo Regional Office, Egypt. I am working in this role on a six month contract as a member of the Irish Aid Rapid Response Initiative. The LLM in Human Rights Law and Public Policy I completed at UCC certainly provided me with much of the legal and human rights background I need to fulfil my current role.