October 10, 2011
University of Namibia, Faculty of Law (UNAM)
I worked as a legal intern at theUniversity of Namibia, Faculty of Law (UNAM) in Windhoek, Namibia. I conducted research with the supervision of Professor M.O. Hinz, who is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Chair for Human Rights and Democracy at UNAM. From June through August 2006, the World Trade Organization (WTO) was holding a Regional Trade Policy Course at UNAM. Government officials from all English-speaking African countries participated in order to brush up on how the WTO functions and how that related to the African continent in particular. Professor Hinz decided to hold a separate, but related, presentation for the participants and law students concerning international trade law and human rights, in order to engage the participants in a debate that is currently gaining momentum outside the WTO but which is not getting due notice within for the time being.
The research project was really challenging for me because, having finished only one year of stock classes at law school, I had a difficult time tackling international trade law. However, the subject was fascinating and soon I found myself really getting involved in my project. The truly rewarding aspect of my entire internship was the final presentation I made in front of the course participants and UNAM law students. The debate that ensued after my presentation was lively and contentious but afterwards I was approached by many of the course participants who felt that it was truly a very worthwhile topic that they were happy was addressed, even if not through the actual WTO course. I was even approached by the WTO representative there who asked for a copy of my presentation and paper to consider putting this issue on the agenda to discuss at the WTO annual conference with NGOs in September 2006. I was very pleased with the result because even though the WTO is addressing some trade-related human rights issues, the subject as a whole remains terribly misunderstood and vilified. To have such a positive feedback from WTO representatives and future WTO negotiators for their countries, was very heartening.
Overall, I had a very rewarding experience and, more than anything, I strongly recommend traveling to Namibia to anyone who has the time (and money)! It’s a stunningly beautiful country…and the birthplace of the Brangelina baby!