OPBP Internship Programme

Launched in 2010, Oxford Pro Bono Publico’s Internship Programme seeks to assist Oxford graduate students to undertake unpaid or poorly paid internships at human rights and public interest organisations. The internship programme is managed with the assistance of the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights in the Faculty of Law. Through the Internship Programme, OPBP aims to:

  • encourage student interest and involvement in pro bono work and public interest law;
  • enable students to gain practical experience in these areas where, without financial assistance, they would be unable to do so;
  • put world-class legal skills at the disposal of organisations working pro bono in public interest; and
  • strengthen OPBP’s relationships with its partners.

Over the past few years, we have awarded over £15,000 in grants from the Internship Fund and have assisted more than 25 students to undertake internships in ten different countries. OPBP’s internship partners have included organizations such as Human Rights Watch in the USA, the Centre for Policy Alternatives in Sri Lanka, StepChange Debt Charity in the UK, the Legal Resources Centre and Women’s Legal Centre in South Africa, Project 39A and IDIA in India and the International Labour Organisation in Switzerland.

Scroll down for more information about applying for an OPBP internship and hosting an OPBP intern.

OPBP-Bonavero Internship 2022

This year, OPBP has partnered with the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights to offer an internship at the Field Legal Office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) in Amman, Jordan

UNRWA was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1949 and is mandated to provide assistance and protection to some 5 million registered Palestine refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Its services encompass education, health care, relief and social services, camp infrastructure and improvement, protection and microfinance. In Jordan, UNRWA provides assistance and protection to around 2.2 million Palestine refugees from Jordan, 17500 Palestine refugees fleeing the conflict in Syria and displaced people from Gaza and West Bank.

The Field Legal Office provides legal advice and support to the Jordan Field Office to improve the overall quality of UNRWA’s service delivery. It currently includes one internationally recruited Head Field Legal Office, a Deputy Head Field Legal Office, a Legal Coordinator, an administrative assistant and interns.

Deadline: Applications close at noon (UK time) on Friday, 4 March 2022.

Application Process: Please refer to the Bonavero Institute's Student Fellowship overview page for the application process.

Exceptional Eligibility: The OPBP-Bonavero Internship 2022 is open to students currently pursuing a research degree or a taught graduate degree in the Faculty of Law, University of Oxford (BCL/MJur/MSc/MSt/MPhil/DPhil) or to graduate students in a related field from other faculties within the University of Oxford, with a previous law degree. Applicants may be about to complete their graduate degrees in Oxford or, in appropriate cases and after consulting their supervisor, may be seeking to intermit their studies in order to undertake the internship.

Desirable Qualifications and Experience

  • Specialization in international law, commercial law or administrative law is desirable.
  • Experience in a professional office environment is an asset.
  • Knowledge of Arabic is an asset.

Competencies: Advanced level of legal research skills, knowledge of Microsoft Office, communication skills, and analyzing

Type of Appointment: Full-time internship (remote internship may be possible, given current circumstances)

Duration: 3 months (with a possible extension for another 3 months)

Terms of Reference

  • Assist with research and the provision of legal advice on the interpretation and application of relevant public international law, including international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law, as well as United Nations privileges and immunities;
  • Assist with the drafting and review of legal documents, including correspondence, summary notes, briefing papers and reports on a wide variety of legal matters, including to United Nations bodies;
  • Assist in the development of human rights analysis, support engagement with the international human rights system and advocacy in relation to the enjoyment of human rights of Palestine refugees;
  • Assist in the provision of legal advice and analysis on matters arising from contracts entered into by the Agency, including those relating to the procurement of goods and services and donor financing and project agreements for the delivery of humanitarian and development assistance;
  • Assist in research and analysis on a wide range of administrative law issues, including use of the Agency’s system for internal administration of justice for staff members and matters relating to allegations of staff misconduct;
  • Assist in reviewing legal matters related to the governance of the Agency, including drafting and reviewing UNRWA administrative issuances;
  • Assist with servicing high-level and other meetings as well as training sessions for staff members covering a range of legal issues; and
  • Perform any other duties as may be required.

Stipend: The successful candidate will receive a maximum stipend of £4,100 to contribute to travel, living and other expenses associated with the internship. In determining the amount to be awarded, other sources of funding will be taken into account. The candidate will also be expected to provide a full report on their work at the end of their internship.

OPBP Internship 2021

In 2021, OPBP was able to support the internship of one postgraduate student at the Field Legal Office of the 'United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees' (‘UNRWA’), in Jordan. Due to travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the internship was remote. Hear from her:

"During my internship at UNRWA, I undertook a wide range of tasks predominantly relating to UNRWA’s legal and administrative framework. First of all, I assisted with research and the provision of legal advice to different departments within UNRWA. As well as grappling with humanitarian and refugee law, this required knowledge of UNRWA’s administrative framework. Due to the nature of the work, the issues raised would be highly sensitive and involve many departments within UNRWA working together. My casework consisted of regularly drafting internal memoranda and correspondence relating to investigations and disciplinary actions taken against UNRWA's staff members. I would receive the investigation documents which included witness statements, court documents, and reports. By scrutinising UNRWA’s policies and legal framework, I would come to a judgement as to the appropriate disciplinary response after liaising with the Head of the Legal Office. Following this, I would draft the required letters to the staff member, as well as reports and various internal memoranda to document the decision."

"Overall, the internship benefited me in a variety of ways. First, I benefited greatly from a career perspective. As an aspiring barrister, the drafting experience I gained from the internship was invaluable. By researching, analysing and applying the UNRWA legal framework, I am now confident in my ability to draft a variety of legal documents. The internship also provided me with practical legal experience at a UN Agency, experience that will greatly help if I decide to join other NGOs during my career. Finally, the internship exposed me to the important and delicate work of UNRWA in Jordan. The plight of the Palestinian refugees raises a vast array of human rights issues. UNRWA is in a unique position in being mandated to provide services to Palestine refugees pending a just and lasting solution to their plight. At the same time, UNRWA is madated to strictly adhere to impartiality and operational independence, meaning that tricky, politically sensitive issues need to be navigated carefully."

- Amna Alli, OPBP-Bonavero Institute Student Fellow 2021

For Amna's detailed report on her experience at UNRWA, click here.

OPBP Internships 2020

In 2020, OPBP was able to able to support two postgraduate students through the OPBP General Internship Fund. Hear from them:

"When selected for the OPBP-Bonavero Institute Internship Scheme, I requested to be placed at the AIRE Centre with the aspiration of putting to practice the knowledge I had acquired during the BCL program in international law, and the desire to see first-hand and be involved in human rights strategic litigation in a renowned NGO. Despite the changed circumstances due to COVID-19 and the inability to work in person, I was able to complete my internship remotely. This was a highly positive internship experience and I recommend it to Oxford law students to complement their academic training." - Émilie Coralie Bouchard, OPBP-Bonavero Institute Student Fellow 2020

"Through OPBP’s General Internship Fund, I was able to spend 8 weeks on placement at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law. I would wholeheartedly recommend an internship at the Bingham Centre to anyone interested in working in public or constitutional law, or more broadly to anyone who wants to experience a different model of academic work to that which we encounter as students. Everyone at OPBP and the Bonavero Institute has been so considerate and helpful, and the Internship Fund really opens doors for people who want to get involved in public law and human right research and practice. All I can really say is that anyone interested in this type of work should apply – there is nothing to lose and so much to gain!" - Rowan Stennett, OPBP-Bonavero Institute Student Fellow 2020

Click on the links to read more about the experiences of our 20122013 and 2014 interns.

Hosting an OPBP intern

Hosting an intern is a win-win situation: as well as providing a capable and highly motivated graduate student with invaluable experience, host organisations benefit from interns’ existing skills and knowledge and from their willingness to learn. If your organisation might be interested in hosting an intern, we would love to hear from you at opbp@law.ox.ac.uk.

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