LAWS50059: Gibbons, United Nations, and human trafficking

By Sophie Kaiko

Over the summer, I took part in the independent legal internship subject. I had a fantastic time, and I would highly recommend this class. Here is some more information about how it works and why I enjoyed it.

What did you do?

I spent three months working with the United Nations Action for Cooperation against Trafficking in Persons (which is a huge mouthful, but luckily is more frequently known as UN-ACT). UN-ACT is a project which looks at human trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-Region (GMS: Cambodia, China, Myanmar, Lao PDR, Thailand and Vietnam). The project spans across each of these countries, with a regional management office in Bangkok. I was working in the regional management office. On a daily basis, I did a lot of research work, as well as some administrative and communication work. I spent a significant amount of my time looking at laws and legislative frameworks in the GMS, and I also looked a lot at public policy and government procedures.

What did you enjoy about your position?

 I liked applying what I knew about law to real situations. I didn’t feel like I was working in a vacuum, or that the cases I was reading were just for academic debate. I also really enjoyed working in a large, international organisation where I was working on briefs that related to headline news events. In addition to learning a lot at my desk in the office, my team was great at bringing me along to other events and conferences. As a result, I was lucky in that I got an insight into the anti-trafficking work done in the region. I also got to meet many interesting, competent and friendly people, which made the whole experience very fun.

What didn’t you like so much?

There are way too many acronyms at the UN. Also, working in a huge international office (with more than 2000 employees on site) meant that English was the main form of communication, so I learnt a lot less Thai than I would have liked.

 Outside of work, what else did you do?

I had a really fun summer, and got to do lots of exciting things! I went SCUBA diving in Koh Tao, rock climbing in Krabi, and saw some gibbons in Kao Yai. The gibbons were a real highlight, so I have attached a photograph of one. I also ate lots of delicious food, and made many friends.

That sounds pretty alright, how did you set this up?

  1. I applied for the internship through this website and was accepted.
  2. I contacted the legal internship people at university. I think you need to give them about a month’s notice, so would recommend doing this super early. They are incredibly helpful, so if you’re interested, book an appointment and go ask all the questions you can think of asking.
  3. Contact Centrelink if applicable, and submit all the documentation to say you are studying abroad. This means you continue to receive payments while overseas (which is a huge benefit, that I wish I had known about earlier, as it would have allowed me to apply much earlier!)
  4. Eat all the Pad Thai.



Beaches + Islands= postcard perfect summer holidays

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