Australian Permanent Mission and Consulate-General
Switzerland, Liechtenstein

Human Rights Internships

Human Rights Internships

The Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations offers the opportunity for Australians to undertake voluntary internships on a self-funded basis during sessions of the Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review.

The Mission seeks people with the skills, education, knowledge and abilities to contribute to advancing Australia's national interests in the UN. Applicants should possess relevant qualifications and background, with preference being given to those who have completed, or are completing, tertiary studies in areas such as political science, international relations, law, human rights, environment or international development. Prior exposure to, or demonstrated knowledge of, the United Nations system is highly desirable.

Each year, three opportunities arise for Australians to undertake self-funded internships at the Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva during the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council (and sometimes a session of the Universal Periodic Review). The Mission seeks people with the skills, education, knowledge and abilities to contribute to advancing Australia's national interests in the United Nations. Details of the program and requirements are listed below.

Applications for internships in 2019 will be open from:

1 – 15 August 2018 (for the February – March 2019 HRC Session)

20 December 2018 – 15 January 2019 (for the June/July 2019 HRC session)

1 – 15 April 2019 (for September – October 2019 HRC session)

Please note that applications received outside these dates will not be considered.

The job

The Australian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva is responsible for representing Australia’s interests in the United Nations system. The work can be rigorous and diverse, requiring flexibility, clear thinking, good communication skills and a sound understanding of diplomacy and the international political landscape. The environment is complex and demanding, but the work is hands-on and can be highly rewarding.

Under the guidance of experienced officers, interns are involved in supporting and advancing Australia’s interests at the international level in a wide range of areas. Interns will develop a thorough understanding of government policy, particularly as it relates to the area of work to which they are assigned. Interns may be required to represent the Australian Government in a formal capacity – for example, by assisting with negotiations of texts and resolutions and attending committees and meetings.

The internship programs take place three times a year: February-March, June-July and September-October.


The Human Rights Council

Much of the work of the Australian Mission revolves around preparing for, attending and reporting on, conferences and meetings at the UN. The significant expansion of Australia’s participation in the UN means that meeting activity is fairly constant throughout the year. However, the Human Rights Council and Universal Periodic Review sessions are the pivotal points of the United Nations human rights calendar in Geneva.  From 2018-20, interns will have the opportunity to work on Australia’s Human Rights Council membership term.

During these periods, interns will attend several formal and informal meetings a day. The daily meetings generally take place from 9.00am to 6.00pm but working groups and side panels also occur at different times throughout the session. Be prepared for a busy schedule and working days that will often extend beyond these set times.

As much as possible, the Mission will take into consideration the particular interests of interns when allocating tasks and meeting attendances.


Our internship training

The training provided to interns at the Mission is very much “on-the-job”. You will learn first-hand how the foreign service functions and gain a useful understanding of diplomatic protocol. In the course of your internship, you will need to develop networks with other interns and diplomats, gain working knowledge of key OHCHR departments and personnel and come to grips with, amongst other things, the complexities of UN protocol and rules of procedure. In addition to attending formal and informal UN meetings, interns will be expected to contribute to the regular diplomatic reporting undertaken by Mission officers and a range of other tasks.


Who we are looking for

We are particularly interested in candidates with academic qualifications in disciplines relating specifically to human rights and legal issues.

The candidates we are looking for are:

  • talented, highly motivated and committed to the goals of the Mission;
  • good communicators with excellent oral and written communication skills;
  • self motivated and innovative
  • strategic thinkers and practical problem-solvers;
  • team players with good organisational skills;
  • flexible, adaptable and resourceful;
  • sensitive to, and appreciative of diversity; and
  • ability to work under pressure with limited guidance.

    A second language is desirable but certainly not essential.  Many interns come into the Mission while continuing their university studies. Others have recently completed their studies, and join us from the workforce. If you graduated some time ago and have substantial work or internship experience, you may prefer to apply for positions advertised by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra.


    Obligatory Requirements

    Before lodging an application for a position please ensure that you meet the minimum criteria for consideration listed below.

    You should:

  • be an Australian citizen (this is a mandatory requirement);
  • possess relevant qualifications and background with preference being given to those who have completed, or are completing, tertiary studies in areas such as political science, international relations, international law, human rights or international development;
  • have prior exposure to, or demonstrated knowledge of, the United Nations system (highly desirable although not essential);
  • have an interest in human rights, and be able to demonstrate this
  • be willing to undergo a mandatory police check; and
  • be willing to re-locate to Geneva for a period of up to two months, on a self-funded basis, which includes travel, visa, accommodation, and health insurance arrangements.


    Conduct and Ethics

    The Mission demands the highest standards of professional conduct from its employees. Ethical conduct by staff and interns contributes significantly to the efficiency and effectiveness of the workplace and to the standing of the Mission and its employees in Australia and internationally.

    In agreeing to participate in the Mission’s Internship Program and undertake duties as directed, interns are required to comply with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Locally Engaged Staff Code of Conduct, which takes account of the particular significance of the department's representational role outside Australia.


    Self-funded and voluntary

    The Mission is not able to provide financial assistance to successful applicants. You are responsible for your own travel, visa, accommodation, and health insurance arrangements. Be prepared: the cost of living is high in Geneva. You should plan for living costs of around A$2,000-$3,000 per month in addition to your flights.


    How to apply

    To apply you will need to submit:

  • your Resume/CV
  • a written reference; and
  • a document responding to the questionnaire below.

Cover letters are not required and any cover letters will not be considered as part of the application. 

f you are a student, we particularly welcome applications that include a reference or letter of support from your University.  



All applications should be emailed to Please include the subject line "SURNAME, first name: Internship Application".

Please note that you will receive acknowledgement via email of receipt of your application. This is not an automated process so the response will not be immediate. You will be notified by email of the outcome of the selection process (whether your application is successful or not).



Applicants are asked to complete the below internship questionnaire. Responses should be no more than 250 words in length per question. The questionnaire is designed to assess your suitability to perform the duties of the position including personal qualities, experience, skills and knowledge relevant to the work of an intern at the Mission.


Internship Questionnaire

1. Why are you applying for the Internship Program in the Australian Mission to the United Nations in Geneva?

2. What are your particular interests in the field of Human Rights?

3. Briefly outline a recent achievement, project or task that demonstrates your analytical and research skills and your ability to think strategically.

4. Provide some examples of how you have used your written and oral communication skills to achieve an outcome, in the workplace, or elsewhere.

5. Please list any countries outside Australia in which you have lived during the past 10 years.

6. (Optional): Do you identify as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander?

7. (Optional): Do you identify as speaking English as your second language? Do you speak any languages other than English?



Short-listed candidates may be interviewed via phone.  Successful candidates will be advised in writing (by email) after which they will need to undertake a police clearance.

Requests for further information should be emailed to