Chayes Fellow Malik Ladhani ’18 on working for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Jordan

Malik Ladhani '18 at the UNHCR offices in Amman.

Malik Ladhani ’18 at the UNHCR offices in Amman. All photos courtesy of Malik Ladhani.

I spent most of my time with the Refugee Status Determination (RSD) unit, specifically on the Iraq sub-team. On this team, I drafted various case re-assessments for Iraqi asylum-seekers, applying international refugee law to determine whether these applicants should be considered refugees under international conventions. Due to the severity of the crisis in Iraq, almost all applicants had a “well-founded fear of persecution.” What was difficult (and the most interesting from a learning perspective), was the analysis needed to determine whether they were involved in any acts that would then exclude them from international protection (ex. crimes against humanity, war crimes). This meant I had the opportunity to engage in a little bit of international criminal law, which I didn’t realize I was interested in prior to the summer.Amman, Jordan.

Working with the RSD team was a fantastic opportunity to really dig deep and work directly with applicant files. I would read interview transcripts, look at identification documentation, research the situation in specific areas of Iraq, understand different profiles and claims, and assess credibility. This was a very individual, case-level view of refugee law.

In contrast, I was also able to view refugee law from an overhead, structural/policy perspective. I worked with the operations coordinator (OC) for approximately two weeks. The OC’s role was primarily to coordinate the inter-agency response to a crisis at the Syria-Jordan border, where there are approximately 100,000 Syrian refugees stranded in the desert.Malik Ladhani in Amman


I had the opportunity to sit in on high-level meetings with representatives from UN agencies and NGOs who were operational at the border, and read policy documents from the heads of these agencies. I got to see diplomacy in action, as UNHCR, along with donor countries, would advocate the Jordanian government to allow food, medical, and water delivery across the border while recognizing and balancing delicate security concerns.

I also went to the Zaatari refugee camp, which is the largest refugee camp in Jordan. In a briefing with the camp manager, I learned about the complexities involved with running a refugee camp, and some of the differences between the issues that urban and camp refugees face.

Overall, I’ve had a great experience here in Amman. I feel this summer was a necessary glimpse into the field of refugee law as a potential career path, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Chayes Fellow Claire Horan ’18 on working at Blue Ocean Law in Guam

Claire Horan '18 (right) with her supervisor at Blue Ocean Law.

Claire Horan ’18 (right) with her supervisor at Blue Ocean Law. All photos courtesy of Claire Horan.

During my first week I worked on a research memo analyzing current human rights concerns in the West Papuan conflict. Now I am working on critiquing environmental and financial regulatory frameworks for deep sea mining in the Pacific region.

Mining projects are currently in the exploratory phase, and greater environmental and economic protections need to be put in place so that Pacific island states can effectively evaluate the risks before deciding whether to lease their seabed to mining companies. My supervisors, Julian and Julie (above), have been wonderful to work with; I have especially enjoyed hearing about environmental protection work from their perspective of human rights lawyers.

I have spent my free time visiting monuments and museums to learn about Guam’s history, playing beach ultimate with an extremely welcoming community, exploring caves in the jungle, and snorkeling. It’s easy to catch sunrises and sunsets because Guam is quite narrow and doesn’t take long to drive.collage

The traditional Chamorro cuisine is delicious. My favorite so far is kelaguen, a cold dish consisting of diced meat (ranging from chicken to octopus), coconut bits, hot peppers, and lemon juice. Another delicious dish is suni, basically spinach in coconut milk. I’ve been enjoying local fruits, like mangoes and soursops, daily.

Guam is a really interesting mix of quintessentially American traditions, clothing, music, and food plus much that is unique to Guam. I can’t believe I will be leaving in a month–there is still so much here I want to see and do.

Chayes Fellow Edith Sangueza ’18 on working at Insituto para las Mujeres en la Migracion in Mexico.

Teotihuacan and Xochimilco, Mexico.

Teotihuacan and Xochimilco, Mexico. Photos courtesy of Edith Sangueza.

I have really been enjoying my work at IMUMI. I have been working on three big client cases—two U visas (victims of criminal activity) and one VAWA visa (violence against women). I interviewed the three clients and drafted their declarations. All of my supervisor’s clients have been so generous and brave in sharing their stories. I sent out U visa certification requests to the relevant police departments, and we are waiting to hear back from them, hopefully with certification. While I learned about U and VAWA visas in my Immigration Law class, it has been a totally different matter to help put together a completed application, and I have a new understanding of how long and complicated a process it is to apply for a humanitarian visa.

I have also helped with a number of smaller tasks, such as requesting birth certificates and apostilles from different states where the clients’ children were born. Many Mexican national parents living in the U.S. don’t realize that they can register their U.S.-born children for dual nationality, and then once they return to Mexico, they need to request a copy of their child’s birth certificate, along with an apostille, before they can register their children as Mexican. Without Mexican nationality, children often can’t get access to important benefits such as medical care or food benefits, and sometimes they have difficulty enrolling in school.

Finally, building on a previous intern’s work, I am putting together a paper detailing the challenges that many transnational families face with access to identity. I am working on finishing as my time here winds down. The summer has really flown by, and I can’t believe I will only be here for another two weeks!

Chayes Fellow Michael Jung ’18 on working at UNICEF in Thailand

Michael Jung '18 at UNICEF offices in Bangkok

Michael Jung ’18 at the UNICEF offices in Bangkok. All photos courtesy of Michael Jung.

Working at the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) in Bangkok has been a phenomenal learning experience. My work primarily deals with violence against children and justice for children in the 28 countries that are overseen by EAPRO.

I’ve been writing and conducting extensive legal research and legislative and policy analyses. It’s been fascinating to observe the incredibly diverse legal frameworks on children and juvenile justice, and particularly exciting to see the legislative reforms and initiatives in recent and upcoming months.



On top of the respectable mandate of UNICEF, every person in our office is inspirational, and my supervisor is simply fantastic with profound expertise and experience in this field. I already feel as though I have been with UNICEF for years.

Timor-Leste Embassy

I recently returned from a UNICEF mission to Timor-Leste that was aimed at better understanding the landscape of juvenile justice and better strategizing the efforts of UNICEF in the country. It was an extraordinary opportunity to visit a prison facility and engage with the incarcerated young persons, meet with the legal drafter of the forthcoming laws on children, and speak with various actors in the system including ministry officials, prosecutors, and legal aid organizations.

In Bangkok, I was able to visit a juvenile vocational training center for boys and assist with a juvenile justice meeting attended by representatives of the 10 ASEAN countries and other entities in the region. I also had the occasion of visiting the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok with my three HLS colleagues here and had some interesting discussions with two political officers, one dealing with human rights and another dealing with security, cybersecurity, and issues in the deep south of Thailand.

Bangkok night shot
Bangkok is a wonderful place to be, especially given the number of organizations and regional bodies in the city, and my collaboration with various individuals has led to some thrilling opportunities in the months to come. The weather is hot, but that is exactly the way I like it, and I love the district I live in (the older part of the city).

I couldn’t have asked for a better summer, and I look forward to seeing the types of work I will be conducting going forward!

Sarah Dorman ’18 on working at Dejusticia in Colombia

Sarah Dorman in ColombiaI feel so fortunate to be here at this time, as the peace accords between the FARC and the government are being finalized. It was incredible to be here a couple of weeks ago when an agreement was reached on one of the remaining points for the overall peace agreement, including terms for a bilateral ceasefire and for disarmament of the FARC.  And although no one knows for sure whether a final accord will be signed this summer, it definitely makes for a lot of fascinating conversations, and I have really loved reading and learning about such things as the historical roots of the conflict, previous negotiations with the FARC and other armed groups, and ongoing challenges facing the country.dpp_0013

In addition, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know more about the work of Dejusticia. Their model of “action-research” is particularly interesting to me. I appreciate how they strive to couple rigorous academic work with hands-on initiatives, such as bringing rights-related litigation and proposing public policy reforms.

I myself have been tackling three research projects throughout the summer, all related to the Special Peace Tribunal that is expected to be set up as part of the final peace accord.  First, I was asked to conduct comparative research on models for judicial administration (including those of the international criminal tribunals, hybrid tribunals, and certain criminal justice systems in Latin America) and to draw out lessons-learned that might be applicable to the Colombian Peace Tribunal.  I am currently working on similar research around guarantees for defendants’ rights. In the coming weeks I will also be looking at how previous tribunals dealing with mass crimes have created space for victims to participate in their criminal justice processes.

Sarah Dorman photo of Bogota

One aspect of life here that I have been grappling with on a day-to-day basis is the fact that Bogota is deeply divided along economic lines: The northern half is known as being very wealthy, with expensive cafes and restaurants, while the southern half is known for being much poorer overall. I understand that crime rates are significantly higher in the southern part of the city, and it is in the southern outskirts of Bogota and up into the surrounding mountains that many internally displaced Colombians have established informal settlements. Living and working in the north myself, I do feel like I’m living in a bubble of wealth and privilege, which I wasn’t particularly expecting before coming here.  In fact, most of the Colombians I know have rarely if ever set foot in the southern half of Bogota, which I find somewhat troubling but perhaps not surprising.

One thing I have particularly appreciated is being able to connect with the network of Harvard alumni living here in Bogota.  I’ve had the pleasure of getting together with two Colombian LL.M.s that I was friends with this last year, as well as another current JD student and a recent Harvard graduate. I am grateful for the experience and knowledge of Colombia that they all are so willing to share with me!