Presentation of the 1st independent Report on UN internships

For the first time, an independent report will reveal key data on UN internships, their conditions of work and analyse the effect of unpaid UN internships on job prospects.

The data has been collected through a Global Intern Survey, launched In August 2017, spearheaded by the Fair Internship Initiative (FII), an independent youth-led initiative focused on advocating for quality and accessible internships. The survey was developed together with the Geneva Interns Association (GIA), the Graduate Institute Students’ Association (GISA) and various Intern Boards in Geneva. The campaign received support from the Global Intern Coalition (GIC), a cluster of interns’ advocacy groups from around the world. Together with previous findings, the new data will be a key tool for organisations to better understand interns’ state of affairs.

The 2017 survey generated responses from over 900 current and former interns. Results from the 472 participants from within the UN system showed that 84% of interns are between the ages of 22 and 29 years old, 54% hold at least 1 completed master’s degree and 72% are female. Yet, 80.5% of interns responding to the survey are unpaid, similar to the 85.3% calculated from the 2015 survey.  That same year, international attention was drawn to the UN practice of employing unpaid interns when media was made aware of a 22-year-old intern from New Zealand living in a tent in Geneva.

The UN has employed interns for many years; however, there has notably been a lack of consistent data on interns. It has often fallen on intern advocacy groups campaigning for the welfare of these interns to gather such data themselves. Beginning with a survey carried out by the Geneva Interns Association (GIA) between 2012 and 2013, followed by successive annual surveys carried out together with the Fair Internship Initiative in 2015 and 2016.

Over 80% of unpaid interns admitted that it would be impossible to do their internship without financial support from family, whilst 45% of those who are paid expressed the same sentiment indicating a disparity between their pay and the costs of living. Access to these internships appear limited to the privileged, with over 67% of unpaid interns (and 52% of paid interns) coming from high-income countries. The trend has been continuous, as back in 2013, the GIA Intern Survey noted that only 6.1% of their respondents rated their socio-economic status as “below average”.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is clearly committed to reducing inequalities (Goal 10) and to ensuring fair working conditions, especially for young people (Goal 8). Now more than ever, the ethos of these goals needs to be reflected in the way in which internships within the UN are conducted.

The UN has launched campaigns on youth employment and the empowerment of youth in various initiatives; however, it does not seem to apply this principle to its internship policy. As more than 75% of respondents have indicated, their experience interning is described as working, or a combination of mostly working but also learning. Respecting the principles of human rights, all work should be remunerated. Half of unpaid interns reported that the experience, however valuable, has placed a financial burden on them or those supporting them. This is unacceptable, and it is the hope of the FII, GIA and GIC that the UN will take action to make their internships more sustainable, inclusive and reflective of the values of the organization.

link to Facebook Event

link to report Lifting the veil off UN internships

UNITAR increases lump-sum to 700CHF

UNITAR (the United Nations Institute for Training and Research) has increased their monthly “lump-sum” to interns and trainees from 300 CHF a month to 700 CHF a month.
This is aims to address the costs of travel, other miscellaneous costs (visas, accommodation and living expenses).

While congratulating UNITAR for their efforts in raising the financial contribution made to interns, it should still be noted that the Swiss poverty line is 2,200 CHF/month. Although a step in the right direction, significant strides are still to be made.

UNITAR is one of the few UN agencies that is not part of the UN Secretariat. This means that they have independent authority in performing the human resources function.
#UnpaidIsUnfair #NoOneLeftBehind

Call for input: OHCHR study on youth and human rights – Submission by FII

“Human Rights Council Resolution 35/14 on youth and human rights, requests the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a detailed study on the implementation of human rights with regard to young people, the identification of cases of discrimination against young people in the exercise of their human rights, and best practices in the full and effective enjoyment of human rights by young people, highlighting the contribution of empowered youth to the realization of human rights in society, to be submitted to the Council prior to its thirty-ninth session.” [Link to Call for input]

Response to the call for input by OHCHR for the study on youth and human rights.
Submitted by the Fair Internship Initiative, 12 January 2018.

The following contribution is submitted by the Fair Internships Initiative on behalf of the Global Interns Coalition in response to the call for input by the OHCHR, as part of the consultative process envisaged for the completion of the study on youth and human rights, to be submitted to the Council prior to its thirty-ninth session.
Given the global mandate of the submitting youth organizations, the present contribution is not limited to a specific country, but will instead – given the wide geographic entity of the problem – provide a global overview.

1. Introduction: Unpaid internships as a human rights problem

A global issue
One of the greatest challenge experienced by young people is securing decent, stable and fairly remunerated employment. Although specific challenges may vary across regions, the problem is consistently felt by young generations across the globe, with the ensuing risk of economic emargination, poverty, psychological disorders, increased inequality and radicalization.

The International Labour Organization estimates that in 2017 global youth unemployment raised to surpass 13%. With 70.9 million unemployed youth in 2017, the number is expected to rise by 134,000 in 2018.

This is largely due to the persisting youth unemployment rates in high and least developed countries, coupled with deterioration of youth employment prospects in the slowing-down economies of the emerging countries.

Faced with such dramatic labour market conditions, competition for jobs has drastically increased in the past few decades. As a consequence, requirements and expectations of employers in terms of skills set and experience have also increased, while the large number of labour supply has contributed to the sharp worsening in the conditions of employment. In many sectors, “the situation has reached the point where many entry-level jobs no longer exist because all the work is being done by overqualified interns”.

Click here to read the entire response

[Geneva] International Interns’ Day 2017 – “Youth Empowerment through Fair Internships”

International Intern’s Day : Youth Empowerment through Fair Internships

On November 3rd, the Fair Internship Initiative organized with the support of the ILO Intern Board, the discussion “Youth Empowerment through Fair Internships”.

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[Geneva] 2017 Spring Intern Board Congress

The Fair Internship Initiative (FII) and the Geneva Interns Association (GIA) recurrent Intern Board Congress brings together all the Intern Boards at the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva. With the aim to build connections, discuss goals, and hopefully achieve a platform for more UN- wide coordination and collaboration when it comes to improving the conditions of our internships.

WHEN: Wednesday 7 June 2017, 18:30
WHERE: Edgar et Daniele de Picciotto Student House, Avenue de France 22, Common Room (ground floor)


[Geneva] 2017 Fall Intern Board Congress

24 October 2017
19:00h – 21:00h

The Intern Board Congress aims to bring together all the Intern Boards at the UN and other International Organizations in Geneva. It will be the perfect opportunity to get to know each other, build connections, discuss our common goals, and hopefully achieve a platform for more UN- wide coordination and collaboration when it comes to improving the conditions of our internships.

We will also take this opportunity to introduce FII and GIA, discuss lessons learned since the last Intern Board Congres,s and the results of the 2017 Global Intern survey.

WHEN: Tuesday 24 October 2017, 19:00
WHERE: S7, Maison de la Paix

Let us know whether you and your intern board would like to participate. Don’t have an intern board and would like to participate, please send us a PM.

[Geneva] FII speaks at UN Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law

21-22 November 2016, Geneva – Two members of the Fair Internship Initiative spoke at the first session of the Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law on “Widening the Democratic Space: the role of youth in public decision-making” organized by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

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