Talks with our intern, Kathryn Allison. Exploring human rights in different contexts

We have conducted an interview with our intern, Kathryn Allison. Kate is on board with an internship since February to assist our Culture Unit in support of resource mobilization activities. Kate aspires to work in the field of human rights within the United Nations and we hope her internship within the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy), will translate into a concrete ground for her passions to converge and her future profession to shape.

Tell us about yourself: What is your background, and why did you want to intern at UNESCO?  

Originally from Australia, I travelled to Venice, Italy, in September 2012 to undergo a European Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) at the European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC), a one year advanced programme aimed at preparing professionals to respond to the operational requirements of daily work in international organisations, field operations, governmental and non-governmental bodies, and academia.

I have since graduated and have undergone further postgraduate studies with a focus that has now taken form along several paths, namely human rights and governance at the University of Padua and cultural and heritage studies at Venice International University (VIU) on the Island of  San Servolo.  It is the unique recognition within my current academic focus of the cultural dynamics and their interconnectedness to the human rights paradigm that brought me to UNESCO’s doors here in Venice.

My professional experience involves working for 3 years in Cambodia for an international NGO, ‘Cord’, in the field of capacity development. My role as programme support officer enabled me to work alongside both inspirational and deeply experienced Khmer advisors in supporting our local partners in the areas of human rights, governance, gender and natural resource management. This experience gave me practical insight into the promotion and realization of human rights within a Southeast Asian context, and through this internship opportunity – I am now benefiting from a deepened understanding of the normative human rights environment.

What do you think you are gaining from your internship? What are the most important aspects?

Today, my current position is in resource mobilization within the Culture Unit of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, Venice (Italy). Through acknowledging both the arts and culture as essential elements to a holistic education, as well as the broader cultural sector as an enabler of sustainable human development, the work thus far has enabled me a more holistic insight into the cultural dynamics essential to the development of one’s own mind and body, and of the broader development of one’s community. On a technical level, I have had the opportunity to strengthen my professional capacity working with institutional and European programmes for financial assistance and mechanisms of international cooperation to further develop my skills in resource mobilization.

Above all, this position has afforded me insight into the institutional workings of the United Nations Framework, as well as the opportunity to develop in a stimulating working environment alongside colleagues who have welcomed me with open and informative arms.

What are your goals for the future? What will happen after the internship? How will your internship influence your choices?

In looking to the future, I aspire to work within the United Nations as a human rights practitioner – a position that I believe holds relevance to all specialized agencies as human rights remains the steady undercurrent to the rather complex and dynamic flow of themes within the various mechanisms of the United Nations. Ultimately, UNESCO and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) are where I feel my passions converge and where I would like to develop.

My intentions are that this goal, coupled with my desire to travel and to continue to expand my professional focus from Southeast Asia to Southeast Europe and beyond, will take me to new placements in the field where I can contribute to the quest of realizing human rights and thus affirm my aspirations.