New internship provides UN experience

25 October 2017

A student with a keen interest in the role states can play in improving lives has recently returned from Switzerland where he interned at the New Zealand Permanent Mission to the United Nations and World Trade Organisation.

Ross Franke, a conjoint LLB (Hons) BA (Economics and Sociology) student at the University of Auckland, spent a month during the semester break at the UN Mission in Geneva, thanks to a new internship sponsored by the Auckland Law School.

The twenty-three-year-old spent his time as an intern attending conferences and meetings with and on behalf of, the World Trade Organisation team and drafting reports for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

This included a meeting of the General Council, the WTO's highest-level decision-making body in Geneva, and the Aid for Trade Global Review, a week-long conference examining ways to promote trade inclusiveness for sustainable development.

Ross also completed a research project looking at the trade-distorting effects of fossil fuel subsidies and investigated the status of specific countries in relation to the world's primary fisheries management organisations.

The fifth-year student who was born in South Africa and moved with his family to New Zealand aged three, says the opportunity to spend time at the New Zealand Mission has confirmed his desire to pursue a career in international relations.

“I am drawn to diplomacy as it is essential to the promotion and protection of human rights. It is vital, particularly in this uncertain political climate, that states maintain strong, peaceful and productive relationships. The internship allowed me to see diplomacy in action. I’m keen to get involved.”

Two years ago Ross spent another university holiday overseas, this time in Nepal working as a Legal Support and Research Volunteer at the Legal Aid and Consultancy Center (LACC) in Lalitpur.

A non-governmental legal resource organisation, LACC is dedicated to the elimination of all forms of discrimination and violence against women, and strives to raise the legal, social, economic and cultural status of women and children.

“My parents lived under apartheid. Their experiences shaped my life and contributed to my interest in rights and freedoms. Their sacrifices paved the way to opportunities that would not have existed had we stayed in South Africa. As privileged people, we have a duty to serve, to do all we can to improve the lives of others.”

Ross’ internship at the Mission made him realise that a job in the international arena is attainable. It also showed him how a law degree opens doors to a range of opportunities.

“I can’t thank the Law School and Mission staff enough for giving me the opportunity to intern in Geneva. I see now that a career in diplomacy is possible.”