Event highlight

Centre for Fundamental Rights hosts a career talk on working within international human rights organisations

This event was part of the series “Human Rights Career Paths”, which is designed to provide the Hertie School community with professional insights into working in the field of human rights.

On 28 February 2024, the Centre for Fundamental Rights held a career talk on the topic of working within international organisations in the field of human rights. Held on-site at the Hertie School, the event created a space for an open and informative dialogue with experienced professionals, while also giving the Hertie students and alumni in attendance the opportunity to ask questions about the realities of working in the field.

Speakers Bernhard Knoll-Tudor, Director of Executive Education and Adjunct Faculty at the Hertie School, and Martin Waehlisch, Team Leader of the Innovation Cell in the Policy and Mediation Division of the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, discussed their varied careers in an insightful conversation moderated by Grażyna Baranowska, postdoctoral researcher at the Centre of Fundamental Rights and member of the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances.

The panelists offered both personal insights and candid advice based on their experiences working in the field of human rights in various international institutions, such as the Organisation for Security and Co-operation, the European Union Monitoring Mission and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights. Over the course of the hour-long discussion, they also reflected on what they view as the most important considerations for people aspiring to work in international human rights organisations. Among other things, the conversation featured thoughts on motivation, advice on early-career decisions and anecdotes on persistence and perseverance. Beyond this, the speakers offered sincere reflections on the challenges and difficulties of working on the ground in affected areas, while also emphasising the more rewarding aspects of being professionally active in the field of human rights.

Bernhard Knoll-Tudor reflected on the gratifying aspects of working in challenging circumstances: “You will devote your first professional years to a cause you believe in. You will be meeting an elite of experts, and you will form a network of friends for a lifetime by spending time in places that are not functional on the ground.”

Martin Waehlisch urged the students to consider the importance of having a clear motivation and direction, rather than simply aiming to work for one specific organisation: “Don’t think about who you want to work for, but what you want to work for.”