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Global Justice Fellowship (GJF)


Many students come to law school eager to explore international and comparative human rights and rule of law issues. To complement the Law School’s course offerings and clinical opportunities, Penn Law provides students with opportunities to gain first-hand experience in promoting and advocating for global justice.

The Global Justice Fellowship (GJF), one of two Global Fellowship Programs at Penn Law, helps support JD students interested in international public interest internships during summer break. The program is designed to immerse students in the law and legal culture of another part of the world and to work on the most pressing global issues facing the world today.

Internship organizations can include entities that promote human, rule of law, economic, social, and cultural rights including:

  • non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • regional inter-governmental bodies, including the United Nations
  • government offices involved directly in the provision of human rights services
  • select international courts including International Criminal Court (ICC), International Court of Justice, The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Inter-American Court of Human Rights
  • advocacy groups
  • social movement work

To get more information on the other Global Fellowship Program, the Global Legal Practice Fellowship, visit here.

What do GJF Fellows do?

Through the GJF program, Penn Law students have worked around the world on issues ranging from women’s rights to rule of law development to criminal law reform and international prosecution of human rights violations. Recent fellowship sites include Argentina, Cambodia, Ecuador, Guatemala, India, Namibia, Nepal, Sierra Leone, Tajikistan, Tanzania, The Hague, Uganda, and Venezuela.

Center for Justice and International Law (Argentina)

In the summer of 2019, Eduarda Lague L’21 worked a summer placement at the Center for Justice and International Law in Buenos Aires where she would “research and write memos on human rights issues — such as indigenous land rights and forced disappearances by state actors — that will be presented to the Inter-American Commission and Court, and to compile information and data for the GQUAL campaign that works on gender parity in international bodies.” Through the experience, said Lague, “I have become acquainted with the Inter-American System and navigating its different standards and complex legal issues.”

Read Lague’s full experience here.

Center for Migration and International Relations (Nepal)

In the summer of 2017, John Peng L’19 spent the summer working with the Center for Migration and International Relations, a local NGO based in Kathmandu. According to Peng, he worked on one main project, “a policy paper on the legal mechanisms and diplomatic deficiencies behind the detention of Nepalese migrant workers.” As the summer continued Peng would present his findings at the Nepal-Bangladesh Youth Conclave (LEAP Forum), which, according to him, is “a collaborative initiative between the two countries to link youth leaders with prominent government officials and foster regional cooperation.” Over the summer, Peng would continue to “travel to various migrant communities and interview returning workers on their detention experiences.”

Get more details by reading Peng’s whole story here.

Where else do Fellows go?

Penn Law students have participated in placements at many other international organizations:

  • Assyrian Aid Society (Iraq)
  • American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (China, Morocco, Tajikistan)
  • Black Sheep (Uruguay)
  • Center of Justice and International Law (Argentina)
  • Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (China)
  • Centro de los Derechos del Migrante (Mexico)
  • Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (India)
  • Covenants Watch (Taiwan)
  • Dui Hua Foundation (Hong Kong)
  • Ecuadorian Center for Environmental Law
  • Human Rights Commission (Colombia)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for former Yugoslavia (The Netherlands)
  • International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (Tanzania)
  • International Development Law Organization (Italy)
  • International Refugee Rights Initiative (Uganda)
  • Lawyers for Human Rights (South Africa)
  • Lawyers Collective (India)
  • Legal Aid of Cambodia
  • Legal Assistance Center (Namibia)
  • Mekong Region Law Center (Thailand)
  • Natural Justice (South Africa)
  • Reprieve (UK)
  • Rights Watch (UK)
  • United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (Switzerland)
  • World Trade Organization (Switzerland)

Who can participate?

This Fellowship is open to any 1L or 2L currently enrolled at Penn Law, who has not already been an GJF fellow. The committee will select up to 12 fellows each summer.

How does it work?

  1. Students source their own placements and apply directly to the organization or organizations they wish to apply to. The Office of Career Strategy (OCS) can advise, but do not coordinate applications for GJF placements.
  2. Students apply for the GJF Fellowship in February.
  3. During the first stage, applicants complete a brief initial application that requires a general statement of interest and intent.
  4. A committee reviews each application and may elect to interview students during this process.
  5. Successful candidates can be selected provisionally into the program, pending success in finding an appropriate placement.
  6. Once placement is approved, Fellows attend training sessions that prepare them to work on global justice issues and for the challenges of living and working abroad.

How do I apply?

The link below will take you to the application and application guidance forms.



Still have more questions?

Get in touch with:

Caroline Ruhle
Associate Director for International and LL.M Counseling
Office of Career Strategy

E-mail: cruhle@law.upenn.edu