Amnesty International

Amnesty International (AI) is an international grassroots movement of 2.2 million people across the world speaking out and acting up in defense of human rights. We investigate and report on human rights violations, and we educate and mobilize the public until we make a difference. 

Through AI's research and action, laws have been changed, death sentences commuted, torturers brought to justice and prisoners of conscience have been released.

Founded in 1965, Amnesty International of the USA (AIUSA) is the largest AI section, with 360,000 members, almost half a million on-line activists, and more than a thousand community and student activist groups.

AIUSA's Organizing Unit works with our five regional offices on all priority human rights campaigns, developing strategies to increase, diversify and engage the membership. The Director's Intern will have an opportunity to focus his/her learning on the following:

  • Building partnerships with communities and domestic civil rights organizations to advance AIUSA priority human rights campaigns;
  • Identifying cities and districts to target through political advocacy and political mapping;
  • Building networks that inspire leaders to take on hard issues;
  • Implementing new recruitment strategies to grow the network of activists connected to our work; and
  • Organizing and strategic analytical skills to organize events and projects.

The Director's Intern will have the opportunity to participate in organizational meetings and community events on a regular basis. Throughout the internship s/he will also participate in a variety of discussions on topics such as policy development, community organizing, and social entrepreneurship. 

The ideal candidate must have a strong work ethic and thrive in a fast-paced environment. Candidates must have strong oral and written communication, presentation, and problem solving skills. They must be well organized, be able to work independently, and have a command of Microsoft Office, particularly Excel, and PowerPoint. The ideal candidate has a background or interest in service, issue advocacy, community organizing, or politics and campaign planning and be excited to learn from opportunities and constructive feedback.

2019 Intern Reflection:

Interning for Amnesty International this summer has been one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for. From the office culture to the demanding yet very meaningful work, my time here has taught me so much about the kind of person I’d like to be and what I want to accomplish after I graduate. For one, my supervisor Adotei is one of the kindest people I have ever met. Though this is my first time ever interning, Adotei has been a mentor to me and an invaluable source of knowledge and inspiration as I learn the ropes of the organization and, to a greater extent, how the federal government operates. His innate kindness and extensive knowledge are shared by the rest of the office. Every single person that I’ve met at Amnesty during my summer has enthusiastically shared stories and pieces of advice from before their time at the organization, including experiences in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, working with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, or living abroad in Jerusalem and Syria.

Farah Afify '22

2018 Intern Reflection: 

There has never been a better or more important time to work on human rights issues, and Amnesty International is amongst the leaders in the field. On my first day, I met my director who is in charge of the Africa division of AIUSA. I would come to learn that he is one of the kindest, most passionate individuals who I have ever worked with, and he truly embodies the office culture itself-- open and accepting, yet driven and passionate about making a change. I would also learn that I would be kept busy throughout my internship, performing a variety of tasks on numerous nations and situations. As someone who enjoys being kept busy and interested about his work, I truly enjoyed working on and learning about the human rights situations in several countries-- an experience that I would have received in few other opportunities.

Amnesty International is a unique human rights organization, in that it combines research and information with activism and advocacy. This combination truly reflects in the work that the interns do. Throughout my time, I have done research and written blogs and memos on the human rights situation in Cameroon, Ethiopia, and Nigeria, coordinated meetings with coalition groups, attended meetings at the United States Institute of Peace and Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition, protested family separation outside the White House, met with Congresspeople and their assistants to discuss the human rights situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and so much more. Of course, while all of this work is fun and exciting, human rights work-- especially given the current political climate-- can be hard and stressful. Nevertheless, the internship opened my eyes and cemented my appreciation for human rights activists and defenders, gave me new insight into the inner workings of a human rights organization, and advanced my interests and goals of making positive change particularly in the human rights field. Ultimately, I could not have asked for a better experience with more amazing people.

Derek Paulhus '19

2017 Intern Reflection: 

Never before have I worked so intimately with the US government in human rights issues.  Having worked at local NGOs in my past summers and semesters, I was usually the little guy—shouting from the outside, trying to make a dent.  This summer, I organized meetings with congresspeople and senators, culminating in seven new co-sponsors of H Res 128 against human rights violations in Ethiopia.  I learned to navigate this unique space between human rights advocacy and government relations.  Sometimes, this required compromise; for example, we were not allowed to advocate for the cessation of US funds to the Ethiopian government as I wished to do. Instead, we had to call for accountability and an investigation.  At the same time, however, I still engaged in rallies by Amnesty International.  Once, I held up a Trump head the size of my body outside of the White House, calling for the release of Taner Kiliç. 

What I mean to say is that my summer at Amnesty International was one like no other.  From lobby meetings to rallies, Amnesty’s position near Capitol Hill creates a large range of opportunities to try to effect change.  I learned so much about Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan that I would not have learned had I stayed cooped up at Harvard.  I wrote issue briefs, brought Ethiopian torture survivors to meet with congresspeople, created a human rights education curriculum, and prepared questions for a hearing with the US ambassador to Ethiopia.  My wonderful supervisor, Adotei Akwei, also allowed us to attend hearings as we wished.  I remember skipping my last three hours at work one day to attend a Senate hearing on the Indian Health Service just because I wanted to do so.  It’s very much an office job, to be sure, but compared to my friends on the Hill, we were given almost no busy work. Throughout my internship, I gained a newfound respect for people like Adotei.  And while I can’t say I’m any more hopeful about the future of human rights, I did gain a much bigger understanding of the US government and the human rights system. 

To potential applicants: do feel free to reach out to me with any questions.  I’m happy to talk about my experience.

Michelle Liang '19 

Washington, D.C.