My name is Cristian Y. Ramos and I am in my last semester at the School of Diplomacy and International Relation’s M.A. program, specializing in International Organizations and International Law and Human Rights. I am very passionate about understanding human rights issues, particularly that of refugees and sexual violence against men and boys. My nine-month internship in the Humanitarian Office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in New York helped me engage with my academic interests on a professional level. UNFPA is the sexual and reproductive health agency that deals with prevention and response in sexual gender-based violence (GBV), female genital mutilation (FGM), and other humanitarian priorities in 123 countries. During my time with UNFPA, I was a Policy and Liaison Intern for the humanitarian team. My duties ranged from taking notes during meetings to researching and helping the team develop innovative projects.
Some of my most meaningful projects involved doing research on sexual violence against men and boys in conflict settings and on the UN Framework on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS). Both projects highlighted of the need for more diverse and integrated systems to treat those suffering from mental health due to violence, human rights abuses, migration, displacement, and more recently, the effects of Covid-19. The systems that are in place to serve and treat people require that services are given to men, women, girls, boys, and the elderly without discrimination or preference. Additionally, my internship provided me with the opportunity to see diplomacy in action. During meetings with delegates and ambassadors, I experienced how my supervisors diplomatically negotiated on behalf of the agency when funds were needed to implement programs and projects at the country level.
My coursework at Seton Hall was critical to my success with UNFPA. In particular, my classes in International Human Rights and Public International Law helped me build a foundation in the discipline and understand how international organizations, like UNFPA, help advance human rights and how they can improve. My internship was incredibly transformative as it helped me acquire skills in research, diplomacy, and writing. Working at the United Nations provided me with a different set of professional skills that vary from the skills I learned in the classroom. The reports that I put together with UNFPA had to abide by a particular template, as per UN guidelines, and they needed to be written in a different style. Additionally, I learned how to conduct negotiations by observing my supervisors as well as the ambassadors and diplomats who worked with our team.
I would definitely recommend this internship to those seeking a professional environment that deals with human rights issues. UNFPA is an organization that puts theory into practice. Students will not only learn about the important issues facing the global community but will also learn the codes of conduct and culture of the United Nations.