"Mr. President, UN Watch welcomes the draft resolution concerning Kyrgyzstan," so began Maile Miller, a senior in USC College as she delivered an important speech before the United Nations Human Rights Council in a large, awe-inspiring hall.
For Miller, who ultimately hopes to affect positive change in immigration policy and education, the experience was not only a transformative moment for her personally and for her education, but also her future career path. This June, the international relations major and Spanish minor is completing a month-long, hands-on internship with United Nations Watch.
On June 16, 2010, Maile Miller spoke before the UN Human Rights Council about the dire situation of the Uzbek people in Kyrgyzstan, a landlocked and mountainous country in Central Asia and one of six independent Turkic states. Recently, thousands have evacuated and fled to the Uzbekistan border as a result of ethnic cleaning and violent killings in Osh, Kyrgyzstan.
How did you find out about this internship?
I found out about United Nations Watch, a non-governmental organization (NGO), from the Graduate Institute of Geneva. The USC School of IR runs a summer program in collaboration with the institute that includes a month-long course at the graduate institute with international students ranging from all academic levels and walks of life — undergrad, grad, law, post-grad, post-law, judge from Germany, UN employees, and more. These students come from all over the world — Nigeria, Malaysia, Brazil, Russia, Austria, Norway, South Africa, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, and Canada to name a few.
What role do you serve as an intern?
I served as a reporter for UN Watch at the Human Rights Council during this 14th Session of the Human Rights Council from June 1 to June 18. Reporting from the HRC on all the countries’ statements, general debates, and interactive dialogues is very informative and eye-opening. I also aid the office in conducting research regarding the role of the Madame High Commissioner of Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Did you know much about the Uzbek people in Kyrgyzstan before you began your internship?
While I was not familiar with the situation before coming here, my internship is based at the HRC and therefore it was necessary for me to familiarize myself with the issues of gravest concern on a human rights level. Thus, the plight of the Uzbek people in Kyrgyzstan was brought to my attention, and given that the HRC had drafted a Resolution on the issue it was important to me that the situation was addressed more than just in that one document.
Have you done much traveling with USC, independently, or with your family?
I studied abroad this past semester with the USC Madrid program in Spain, and I also traveled with USC’s Volunteer Center my freshman year for Alternative Spring Break to carry out ecological and environmental aid in Mexico. I have also traveled extensively in the U.S. independently and with my family — in roughly thirty-five of the states — and internationally independently to Mexico, Guatemala, Italy, France, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Portugal. With my family I have also traveled to New Zealand, Germany, Mexico, and Portugal.
How do you think this internship will inform your future in terms of career or education?
This internship furthers my future goals of standing up for suffering peoples, and I am interested in immigration policy in the U.S., as well as teaching English to immigrants through new and creative forums such as through musical theatre. This experience is extremely useful in understanding the role of the UN in international relations and its influence on policy implemented on the ground across the globe.