– A gateway to joining the global dialogue on human rights

Malak Benachour. Photo
Malak Benachour. (Photo: Mostfa Lejri)

Malek Ben Achour shares her views on her journey as a student at the Master's program in Human Rights and Multiculturalism at USN.

Text by: Malek Ben Achour, MHRMC student, 2023

Trying to capture the essence of my journey through the Master's program in Human Rights and Multiculturalism is not a simple feat. These past months have unfolded an array of opportunities, each more enriching than the last, in a program that's so much more than its two-year span suggests.

From the outset, we were engaged in the foundational theories of human rights and multiculturalism. This comprehensive academic base was crucial for deepening our understanding of global human rights issues’ diverse, complex nature. It set the stage for the practical, real-world applications that were to follow.

During the first semester, the program fosters opportunities for students to engage in influential platforms. For instance, I had the incredible opportunity to participate in the UN Model Padova UPR 2022 as President of an INGO, leading our team to win the Best INGO Delegation award. This exposure was not only academically enriching but also vital in understanding the nuances and subtleties of international human rights advocacy.  Similarly, presenting at the ISA World Congress of Sociology I was able to develop my communication and analytical skills. These opportunities are testaments to the program's commitment to exposing students to diverse, impactful experiences.

The pinnacle of this program is the third-semester internship, an extraordinary opportunity to bridge academic learning with real-world experiences. My internship at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Branch of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva was transformative. I had the opportunity to witness firsthand how global governance and diplomacy intersect to address human rights violations. It was a profound learning experience that provided me with practical insights into the inner workings of international human rights mechanisms. Inspired by this role, my thesis aims to fuse these insights with critical theoretical perspectives acquired through my Master's studies, offering a nuanced analysis of the Universal Periodic Review. 

Equally transformative was my internship at Scholars at Risk (SAR) which was marked by the collaboration and teamwork with professors and my fellow students. This experience wasn't just about applying what we had learned; it was about working together for a cause much greater than ourselves.

As a Learning Facilitator within the same program, I was driven by the desire to give back to a program that has been inspiring and formative in my growth. This role allowed sharing my experiences, lessons I’ve learned and insights with students.

Reflecting on my time at USN, I am grateful for the depth and breadth of opportunities it has offered. I believe that this Master’s is more than an academic pursuit; it's a gateway to becoming a part of the global dialogue on human rights, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and experiences to make a tangible difference.