During summer 2017, two students from Santa Clara University’s Law Study Abroad Program in Geneva externed in London with the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. During their externship they had the opportunity to research the prevalence of modern slavery in the Commonwealth.

Nazia Chandiwalla, a second year law student, and Grace Harriett, a graduating third year law student, were listed as contributors when the report was recently published in April 2018.

Their research was presented as part of the SDG 8.7 (Sustainable Development Goals) presentation at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018 in London. The dignitaries at the meeting included Queen Elizabeth as head of the Commonwealth, English Prime Minister Theresa May, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, among other Heads of State.

Their specific report was titled “Creating an Effective Coalition to Achieve SDG 8.7.”

The report in its entire can be viewed here.

A press release from CHRI can be viewed here.

Comments from the students:

Nazia Chandiwalla:

This externship was my first foray into international law and enriched me with lifelong experience in many ways.

First, it exposed me to what the Commonwealth is and how it operates. Externing with CHRI was a stimulating and engaging experience in understanding how Commonwealth member states’ actions or lack thereof impact Commonwealth citizens.

Additionally, working on the CHRI report on SDG 8.7 exposed me to common ways most member states fail to take effective leadership or action on modern slavery. In turn, member states’ weak legal infrastructures, lack of police reform, and economic instabilities perpetuate trafficking and other human rights abuses against victims, leaving them with minimal relief from exploitation. In addition to assessing the foregoing root causes of injustices victims face, I also evaluated the legal and advocacy measures member states can implement in order to decrease exploitation of victims.

Lastly, working and living in a vibrant city like London was a thrilling experience. For students interested in international law, London has a plethora of events to attend and organizations to connect with. Aside from working for CHRI, I had the opportunity to network with other international organizations, attend human rights events, and gain an understanding of how international law and human rights work is approached by different countries.

Grace Harriett:

This summer I was able to gain professional hands-on experience within the field of international human rights law. I spent the summer as an extern for the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative with their London team. This team was tasked with researching and drafting a comprehensive report on the current status of modern slavery within the 52 Commonwealth countries. The report was prepared for publishing and distribution ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in April 2018.

I was able to gain a lot of insight and professional development with this experience. I not only deepened my research and writing skills but I also broadened my knowledge and understanding of international law. I learned substantive material on modern slavery; its history, applicable laws, and current efforts by both the civil society and governments working to eradicate it. I was also able to gain insight on what it is like to work with a non-governmental organization as a potential future career path.

Seeing my hard work realized as a published report was not something I had expected while I was in law school, but I am immensely grateful for the opportunity. This whole experience – living in London for the summer, working with a NGO, and being able to see my work come to fruition – has had a huge impact on my desire to pursue a career in international law and I am very excited for my next steps into the field.

Grace Harriett, second from left, and Nazia Chandiwalla, second from right, with other CHRI externs.

Grace Harriett, second from left, and Nazia Chandiwalla, second from right, with other CHRI externs.