Earlier this year Amy Barber, UWA Law graduate, moved to Geneva in Switzerland to work as the intern for the Advisor on Human Trafficking, Mariana Katzarova, at the United Nations in the Office for the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Amy has always been drawn to international affairs and particularly human rights. She was a part of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda last summer and worked for a Korean judge in Chambers.
"Geneva is a strange but wonderful international city", Amy reports. "The UN and particularly the Secretariat where I work is a fascinating place. Its frustratingly bureaucratic and political, the most high-pressure workplace I have ever experienced but ridiculously entertaining. I’m the only Australian on my floor and the whole world is literally represented which makes for an interesting contrast of work ethic and personality."
Mariana and Amy work as a two-person team on the issue of human trafficking within the Women’s Rights and Gender Unit of the Office and Amy believes she is lucky to be thrown in the deep end with trust and confidence of Mariana to make decisions.
Amy's main tasks have been organising a two-day seminar of experts from around the world to discuss the UN Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Trafficking; organising a photo exhibition on domestic servitude launched in collaboration with UN.GIFT and the Permanent Missions of Switzerland, France and Austria; and organising a panel of trafficking survivors in the Human Rights Council. This meant they had to find seven survivors of human trafficking from around the world to testify. This was an incredibly humbling and powerful opportunity, the video of their testimony is at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/SurvivorstraffickingBreakingthesilence.aspx
Amy's work and involvement in the Human Rights Council has brought her in daily contact with diplomats, Ambassadors, human rights committee members and foreign ministries. The US Obama administration and their Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton is particularly interested in the issue. On their visits to the US Mission Secretary Clinton showed her support via video link and a video message with her position statement was later recorded and played at an expert seminar.
Amy describes the internship as incredibly intense but invaluable professionally, academically and personally. She is grateful to UWA, particularly Professor Alan Robson, Vice Chancellor, Professor William Ford, Dean of the Law School and the UWA Law School and thanks them for their continued support.