Human Rights Organizations for Students Looking to Make a Difference

Guest post by Kate Willson

From the unrest in Iran to modern-day racism in our own backyards, human rights violations are all around us. It’s heartbreaking to see that, as a global society, we still have much progress to make in the way we interact with one another. Fortunately, however, there are several organizations in existence working to counteract this injustice. Plus, these human rights groups are proactively reaching out to younger generations like high school and college students to get them involved in the movement as well.

From the youth extension of a powerful international group to a coalition of students standing up for what’s right, the young generations of today are taking an active role in the cause for what they believe is right and just. Below is a list of just some of the opportunities available for those of you interested in learning more about how to satisfy your inner activist.

Americans for Informed Democracy

Americans for Informed Democracy is a virtual network of students that share a passion to promote things like democracy, peace and sustainability. While the group’s sole mission is not limited to the human rights’ cause, that is definitely a commonly recurring theme among their campaigns. With the guidance of a knowledgeable and experienced advisory board, group members seek to eradicate unjust acts and practices across the world. From tackling global hunger to helping innocent victims of war, Americans for Informed Democracy take the challenges of our world head on.

Amnesty International: USA Youth

The youth-oriented chapter of Amnesty International: USA, Amnesty International: USA Youth seeks to get children across America excited about human rights issues. Currently, there are over 1,000 Amnesty student/youth groups in the U.S., with that number growing every day. Members will be on the cutting edge of pressing human rights campaigns and could even get the opportunity to attend related annual conferences. From Miami to Missouri, American students are getting involved in global issues that affect us all.

Human Rights Watch

Unlike the previously mentioned organizations, Human Rights Watch is not strictly for students. An independent organization that has been in existence for over 30 years, Human Rights Watch’s main mission is to ensure justice and security for all citizens. In their ideal world, perpetrators will be held accountable for their actions and abuse will cease to exist. To help their cause, the group allows eager, enthusiastic students to intern, often times for free. In fact, many people involved say the group wouldn’t be where it is today if it weren’t for the dedicated interns and volunteers they have assisting them on cases and projects.

Any student who decides to give this a-go will undoubtedly walk away with mountains of invaluable knowledge and experience.

So, if you’re eager to get involved in the human rights movement, give one of these groups a try—you never know what you might learn.

Kate Willson is a blogger for She is passionate about providing helpful information to incoming college students and parents and is always pleased to hear from readers.

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About Otto Spijkers

Otto Spijkers is Professor of International Law at the China Institute of Boundary and Ocean Studies (CIBOS), Wuhan University. Previously, he was a lecturer of Public International Law at Utrecht University, Senior Research Associate with the Netherlands Institute for the Law of the Sea (NILOS), and researcher with the Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability Law (UCWOSL). He is also a member of the Committee on the Role of International Law in Sustainable Natural Resource Management for Development of the International Law Association. He was a visiting lecturer at the University of Malta, the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies of Leiden University, Xiamen University’s China International Water Law Programme (China), the China Institute for Boundary and Ocean Studies of Wuhan University (China), the Law School of the East China University of Political Science and Law (ECUPL) in Shanghai (China), the Università degli Studi di Salerno (Italy), and the Association pour la promotion des droits de l'homme en Afrique centrale (APDHAC) of the Université Catholique d’Afrique Centrale (Yaoundé, Cameroon). Previously, he was a PhD candidate and lecturer at the Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies at the University of Leiden. His doctoral dissertation, entitled The United Nations, the Evolution of Global Values and International Law, was published with Intersentia in 2011. He worked as public services coordinator at the Peace Palace Library, as international consultant and coordinator for the United Nations International Law Fellowship Programme, as intern for the Appeals Chamber of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and as intern for the Office of Legal Affairs of United Nations Headquarters. Otto Spijkers is editor and author of the Invisible College Blog, the blog of the School of Human Rights Research. Otto Spijkers studied the basics of international relations at the University of Sussex. He then studied international law at the University of Amsterdam, New York University School of Law (exchange student), and the Hague Academy of International Law (2009 session). He studied philosophy at the University of Amsterdam and the University of Malta (exchange). He obtained a Diplôme approfondi de langue française.

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