Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Statelessness Programme 2012 international internship winner: "looking ahead to 6 months in Bangkok"

The Statelessness Programme's first ever International Statelessness Internship Award recipient is the very bright, motivated and sociable Sangita Jaghai. After nearly a year of interning with the Statelessness Programme in Tilburg, she is now about to embark on her international  internship - sponsored by the Statelessness Programme - in Bangkok. In this first blog post, she looks ahead to what she is expecting of the experience over the coming 6 months...
How the location and organization was selected
6 months ago,  Laura van Waas (manager & founder of the Statelessness Programme) made enquiries with Mark Manly, the Head of the Statelessness Unit at the UNHCR headquarters in Geneva about the possibility of hosting an intern at a UNHCR office for 6 months. UNHCR recommended an internship at the regional hub in Bangkok because the magnitude of the issue within the region and a great team working on statelessness at the Regional Coordinator’s Office would offer a good learning environment for an intern.
Laura consulted me about this option, she was very positive about an internship at the regional office in Bangkok but mentioned that it was also possible to look into other placements if I wanted to. I preferred to fulfill my internship in Thailand and UNHCR gave its approval for an internship period  as of 4 March until 16 August 2013.

What I expect to be doing during the internship
Under supervision of the Regional Protection Officer (Statelessness) I, firstly, expect to focus on developing a methodology which 1) compares citizenship laws of ASEAN member states against international standards related to the prevention and reduction of statelessness and 2) can identify conflicts or gaps in citizenship law that will arise in the context of migration between ASEAN member states, as well as through marriage between citizens of different member states. Secondly, I expect also to concentrate on good practices that exist in the region as regards reforming nationality law, regulations or implementation to reduce and prevent statelessness. Findings of this research have to be written down in a report.

If sufficient time remains, materials for future internal and external UNHCR training on the prevention and reduction of statelessness through nationality law reform and implementation will be produced or reviewed.  My duties and responsibilities are very well explained in the TORs.
What I hope to offer the host organization and learn from the experience
I am hoping to put into practice knowledge that I have gained during my internship at the Statelessness Programme.  My internship project  in Tilburg mainly focused on statelessness in the Dutch legal context and plenty of opportunities were given to learn more on statelessness in the international legal context as well. For instance, I took the course on nationality, statelessness and human rights. The legal analysis classes that were given back then will now be of good help during my internship.

Besides that, I participated in a summer course on statelessness held at Tilburg University. It was very informative because researchers, experts, and people working in the fields from all over the world gathered for one week and shared their experiences working on statelessness.
To conclude, what I would like to learn from the experience here in Bangkok is to better understand the legal context of statelessness  in South East Asia and the challenges that are being  faced within region. Seeing how UNHCR performs its mandate to prevent and reduce statelessness in practice  is a learning experience on itself already. Looking at my internship project, I hope to learn how to develop a decent methodology to assess nationality laws of the ASEAN member states and analyze nationality laws efficiently. I also wish to be guided  throughout the process of writing a clear and comprehensive  analysis report based on the findings. It would also be amazing to learn more on how teaching material is being developed for training sessions on statelessness.
Sangita Jaghai, International Statelessness Internship Award recipient 2012

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