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Internship with Just Atonement, New York

A brief report from Aqsa Hussain who completed a nine week internship with Just Atonement in New York with the help of funding from the Overseas Placement Fund.


With the assistance of Lincoln’s Inn Overseas Placement Fund, I was able to spend the Summer as an intern at the human rights NGO, Just Atonement. Based in New York, the organisation focuses on promoting and litigating cases in international human rights law encompassing work in international criminal law, international law of climate change, international rules of war and peace, refugee law and universal jurisdiction.

The work that I was involved with was diverse in nature ranging from legal research for strategic litigation cases which challenged the constitutionality of going to war; writing memorandums about various issues in international law such as accountability and nuclear warfare; to writing country-specific reports for the United Nations’ Universal Period Review process. Not only did I hone my drafting and research skills, I was able to learn about both US domestic and international law.

At the end of my internship at Just Atonement, I was invited to visit Geneva, Switzerland, to attend a week’s training on International Law and Human Rights mechanisms with the Geneva International Centre for Justice (CICJ). I also attended the UN Human Rights Council’s 42nd session. I had the incredible opportunity to deliver a speech at the Council’s meeting on the Universal Periodic Reviews. My short speech was about the current human rights framework in Brunei which criminalises children as young as seven, as well as human rights injustices against women and other minority communities.

As I start my career at the Bar as a criminal and public law Pupil Barrister, I am appreciative of the knowledge and experience of international law that I have acquired during this internship. As a profession we are increasingly dealing with legal challenges which transcend national borders and learning about how certain rights and ideas can be challenged through international Interon institutions, namely human rights mechanisms. This has been a truly insightful experience.

Overall my time in New York with Just Atonement and subsequently in Geneva with the CICJ allowed me to network with incredible human rights law practitioners and gave me a deeper understanding of the breadth and complexity of the international legal regime. I am very grateful for the financial support provided by Lincoln’s Inn, without which such an experience would have been difficult to obtain.