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Communications and Marketing

Advocating for human rights

Jaafar Al Fakih ’15 is making a world of difference in the lives of others in his internship with Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York City.

Al Fakih works three days a week for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Division of HRW that exposes and investigates human rights violations in the MENA region. The for-credit experience is providing Al Fakih with critical skills he will use as an aspiring human rights activist.

“Interning for HRW is a great opportunity to get direct exposure to the workings of a large, well-organized, and international human rights organization and see how the human rights movement is gaining increasing influence in international affairs,” Al Fakih said. HRW won the 2008 United Nations Prize for Human Rights at the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights. The organization is also a leading member of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Al Fakih is probing Israel’s economic settlements in Area C of the West Bank and evaluating their impact on Palestine’s economy by referring to annual reports published by the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. He is also in charge of compiling daily news digests on the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories by referring to sources in English, Arabic, and French.

At Lake Forest, Al Fakih used internships and study abroad to discover his future career. While on study abroad in Paris, he interned with the Permanent Delegation to UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. “I realized then that I was not meant to become a doctor, but a human rights activist,” the former science major said. Al Fakih is double-majoring in international relations and human rights studies, a self-designed major.

A non-credit internship at the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the United Nations in New York, a for-credit internship with the Embassy of Lebanon in Beijing, and a non-credit summer internship for Immigration Equality and the New York City Anti-Violence Project allowed Al Fakih to land his current position.

“Interning at HRW is a wonderful chance to network with researchers and experts in the field of human rights, government officials, and learn more about the organization’s priority human rights issues,” he said. The work “has resulted in sustained, positive change.”