Other Paths to International Practice

International Criminal Law

Though criminal tribunals fall under the auspices of the UN, the opportunities available to attorneys in these courts are unique compared to most UN legal work. The International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) have been popular places for internships and employment in the area of international criminal law. 

The two tribunals consist of three divisions: Chambers, Registry and the Office of the Prosecutor. Chambers consists of Judges and staff, the Registry handles administrative matters, and the Office of the Prosecutor handles prosecution and investigations. In the ICTY, for example, also located in the Hague, most of the attorneys work in the Office of the Prosecutor, with approximately 100, and then the Chambers, with approximately 25. Positions and internships are available in all three divisions. Both tribunals use English and French as their official languages. At the ICTY, while 95% of the work is conducted in English, knowing a second language is a way to demonstrate a longer term commitment to the organization. While some internships may lead to full-time positions, the UN regulations prohibit applying for a paid position for six months following the internship. For future employment, you must also keep in mind that competition will include students who have advanced degrees, such as an LL.M.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) also offers opportunities for attorneys and current law students. Operating under the Rome Statute and separate from the U.N., the ICC tries those accused of the "most serious crimes of international concern, namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes."! Though the ICC gives preference to job applicants who are citizens of ICC member states, Americans may also be considered for positions.

To enhance your ability to secure one of these internships and future permanent employment, strong performance in law school is important. You should take courses in the basic areas of criminal litigation (e.g. criminal law, criminal procedure and evidence) and, to the extent your law school has course availability, international and human rights law, and doing clinicals.

Practical experience is also critical. Hiring immediately upon graduation from law school is generally not the norm, but does happen occasionally. Three to five years of experience is often desired, especially in criminal litigation and in defense or prosecution. Most lawyers practicing international criminal law began their practice in their country’s criminal courts. The skills you will learn in a U.S. Attorney or local District Attorney’s office, for example, are similar to those needed in international criminal tribunals (e.g. managing a large number of cases, due process issues, and evidentiary issues).

International Development

International development, which focuses on addressing and lessening poverty in developing countries, receives a great deal of IGO attention. Avenues to achieve these goals include housing, healthcare, education, economics, and political empowerment by offering technical assistance rendered while in a foreign country, by giving money away, or providing loans.

As opposed to humanitarian aid, which is a temporary involvement to address a specific crisis situation, international development is a long-term solution to a set of problems. Various countries have formed conglomerates to take on the task of international development.

UN International Development

The World Bank, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) constitute the most well-known international development organizations under the auspices of the UN. Though the UNDP operates directly from the UN Charter, the World Bank and IMF each have their own independent mandates. Both groups have 184 members and though the two often collaborate on a variety of issues, they have very different roles in international development. Attorneys working in UN International Development typically act as in-house counsel, with an international component of working on treaties.

The World Bank

The World Bank’s mission is “to fight poverty and improve the living standards of people in the developing world.” (Taken from the World Bank website: www.worldbank.org). It is made up of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Development Association (IDA), provides loans, credit, grants, and technical assistance, and gives policy advice to developing countries.

The Bank is the world’s largest funder of both education and HIV/AIDS and one of the largest funders of biodiversity. The World Bank Group, on the other hand, is made up of five entities, including the two above. Each entity is a source for possible employment or internships. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) promotes private sector development in developing countries; the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) promotes foreign investment in developing countries; and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is the place where conciliation and arbitration of disputes occurs between member countries and investors.

The World Bank Group has a summer internship program open to citizens of the member countries. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in a full-time graduate study program, usually after their first year. English is the required language and knowledge of any of the UN’s five other official languages, as well as Portuguese, is beneficial. An hourly salary is paid to interns and travel expenses are covered. Most internships are in Washington, D.C. for at least four weeks in length. A Harvard Law School student who interned in the Department of Institutional Integrity of the World Bank commented, “I attained the position at the World Bank through dogged perseverance.” He also stated “[to] attain any position at the Bank, I think a demonstration of an interest in international affairs is crucial.” One of the core functions of the Department of Institutional Integrity is to investigate allegations of fraud and corruption in World Bank Group projects. The anticorruption policies and programs this intern is working on “are the first of their kind in any international organization.” He believes his experience will allow him to “leave the Bank with a much better understanding of international development and global politics in general.”

The Legal Department of the World Bank does not have an official summer internship program, but does hire summer interns. Again, contacting persons you know or have been referred to will enhance your ability to secure an internship.

For post-graduate employment, the World Bank usually does not hire JDs immediately upon graduation, though it will hire LLMs. Networking is extremely important and having completed a summer internship is also helpful.

The International Monetary Fund

The IMF uses surveillance, technical assistance, and lending to assure international monetary cooperation, the growth of trade, and access to IMF resources for countries experiencing payment difficulties. Its aim is to stabilize the international monetary system and monitor the world’s currencies. Each member country’s economic situation is analyzed annually to determine the need for IMF assistance

To intern for the summer in the Legal Department of the IMF, it is helpful to have some background in international and trade law and economics. The paid internships are thirteen weeks and you must be a citizen of one of the IMF member states. Applications can be submitted on-line and applicants should specify their interest in an internship in the Legal Department. More information is available on the IMF website at www. imf.org.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

On the ground in 166 countries, the UNDP addresses democratic governance, poverty reduction, crisis prevention and recovery, energy and environment, and HIV/AIDS. The UNDP helps developing countries attract and use aid effectively. The UNDP offers various employment opportunities including the Leadership Development Programme, the Junior Professional Officers’ Programme, as well as unpaid internships. Many UN Volunteer positions are also in this department. For summer internships, applicants must be enrolled in a graduate level program and proficiency in at least two of the three working languages in the UNDP (English, French, and Spanish) is an asset, though not a requirement. The website contains an internship application that should be sent to directly to the relevant country office or unit.  More information can be found at http://www.undp.org/internships/

Non-UN International Development

A large number of non-UN IGOs are development banks. These banks are regionally based and have these two objectives in common: 1) to act as a member of the international development community and 2) to help their own country's trade relationships. Because staffs for non-UN groups tend to be small, attorneys often find themselves doing paralegal-esque work. There are several regional development banks handling a range of issues and promoting the economic development and social progress of its membership. Some examples are the Asian Development Bank, the Islamic Development Bank, the EBRD, the ADB, and the IDB.

The African Development Bank (ADB)

The ADB is devoted to reducing poverty, improving living conditions, and mobilizing resources within Africa. It has members from the 53 African countries, as well as 24 countries in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. There are about 1,100 employees, 50 of whom are in the Law Department. The Law Department has operation and administration and finance divisions, and operates much like any other in-house law department. The kind of experience and skills important in this Department, as reported by a current intern, are organizational and time management skills, ability to work on a team and be a self-starter. Although there is no language requirement at the ADB, most employees are conversant in both English and French. Additionally, you must be a citizen of one of the bank’s member countries, which includes the U.S.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD)

Headquartered in London, the EBRD is the region’s largest single investor and helps to build democracies and market economies. The mandate of the EBRD is that it assists only those countries committed to democratic principles. A Harvard Law School student who interned at the EBRD submitted his application in December for his summer internship. He worked with the EBRD’s Legal Transition Team, which does legal reform work. He believes some knowledge of Russian is helpful, though any foreign language is beneficial and prior international experience is critical. 

The Asian Development Bank

The Asian Development Bank is an international development finance institution with the mission of helping developing member countries reduce poverty and improve their people’s quality of life. In pursuing its mission, the Asian Development Bank gives loans, technical assistance, grants, advice, and knowledge. With headquarters in Manila, Philippines, it has 67 member countries, one of which is the United States. Summer internships are available in the Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for a two to three month period between June and August. The OGC provides support to the Asian Development Bank and its member countries on legal matters relating to the organization, administration, finance, policies, law and policy reform and public/private sector operations.

A favorable applicant is one who is a national of one of the member countries, has prior development experience, strong analytical and communication skills, and an ability to work in a multilateral environment. Intern projects vary from year to year based on the needs of the Asian Development Bank. Past assignments have included study on trade and investment in South Asia, energy and infrastructure regulation and transactions, valuation of road assets, and industrial energy efficiency in Southeast Asia. For post-graduate employment, you also must be a national of a member country. From the Asian Development Bank website, you can view current vacancies. All permanent positions require you to fill out a Personal History Form.

Last modified: December 13, 2011

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