Student Spotlight: Wyler Testifies Before UNHRC

Wyler (Pardee ’18) in front of the United Nations building in Geneva.

Dina Wyler (Pardee ’18), a graduate student at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, recently testified before the United Nations Human Rights Council as part of an internship with the UN Watch, a non-governmental organization based in Geneva whose mandate is to monitor the performance of the United Nations.

Wyler’s intership involved monitoring the Human Rights Council’s proceedings, taking notes, attending side events and reporting back to her office on relevant debates. She also analyzed UN reports and carried out research concerning UN institutions such as UN Women, and ECOSOC. Wyler said her testimony focused on the current human rights situation in Belarus. 

As a Human Rights Organization intern, I spoke about the deteriorating human rights situation in Belarus, Europe’s last authoritarian regime,” Wyler said. “I criticized the EU for lifting sanctions against Belarus and asked the Special Rapporteur how he will continue his work, considering the fact that the Belarusian government hinders him from entering the country. In addition, I directly addressed the president of the UNHRC and asked what steps the council considers to take in order to ensure that Lukashenko’s government engages with the UN in the future.”

Wyler said her internship provided an important compliment to her coursework at the Pardee School by allowing her to experience firsthand the inner-workings of the United Nations.

“Here at BU, we study the theories of international relations and the complex political and social situations on the ground in different areas of the world,” Wyler said. “However, in the end, the subject of International Relations is a very practical one. During my internship at UN Watch, I gained first hand insight into the field of IR and diplomacy. I saw how the UN and its different bodies work and what it means to be a representative of an NGO or a government in this specific setting. In general, I would say I now better understand the strengths and weaknesses of large international organizations as the UN.”

Wyler said her advice to current students looking for similar internships and opportunities would be to take advantage of the specializations offered within the MA programs at the Pardee School

“The way our graduate programs are organized, we have the chance to become experts in a certain field of International Relations, whether it is religion, environmental studies or communication. This internship was a chance to apply the expertise I gained while at the Pardee School,” Wyler said. “There are so many internship opportunities in Geneva! Not only the UN offers internships — each country sends its own delegation to the UN, and most of them have at least one intern. This is another great way of getting involved.”