Today, 27 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Geneva commit to paying their interns and drawing attention to the subject of the unpaid internships in international governmental and non-governmental organisations.
After various campaigns pushing for change like the "Pay your interns" Initiative, or David Hyde, interning at the United Nations and pretending to be homeless, NGOs in Geneva have heard these calls and are now taking action. An international movement is taking place to improve the outdated practice of not paying interns aiming to address indirect discrimination based on socio-economic background.
27 international NGOs in Geneva have signed on to a Charter dedicated to ameliorate the treatment of interns. It aims to highlight the basic principles of adequate remuneration for interns, to which each international governmental and non-governmental organisation should uphold.
The Charter focuses on two main ideas:
1/ The purpose of an internship is for an individual to acquire knowledge and practical experience in the sector they are interested in pursuing professionally.
2/ A minimum stipend of 500 Swiss Francs must be offered to interns in Geneva for a full-time vacancy. Higher stipends are highly encouraged. An increase in the minimum stipend will be provided over time.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that «Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity». Internships pave the way for future international leaders, who will work towards justice and equality. If interns experience unfair treatment during their first exposure to international actors, the “arc of the moral universe” will definitely not bend towards justice. Interns are of immeasurable value for international organisations. Interns do work, therefore they should be paid.
The Charter represents a fundamental step towards acknowledging the contribution of interns to the international human rights system, and its signatories are confident that they will be joined by many more organisations in the coming weeks, months and years.
"We Pay Our Interns" Initiative
Website of the initiative: http://wepayourinterns.org
Charter of the initiative: http://wepayourinterns.org/charter
Members of the initiative: Alkarama Foundation, Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT), CCPR Centre, Child Rights Connect, Codap, Docip, FIACAT, FIAN International, Geneva Institute for Human Rights, Good Neighbors International, HURIDOCS, International Disability Alliance, Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), International Publishers Association, Norwegian Refugee Council Representation Office in Geneva, oriGIn, Peace Watch Switzerland, Save the Children, TRIAL, RIDH, Terre des Hommes International Federation, UPR Info, WaterLex, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, World Evangelical Alliance, World YWCA