Human Rights Fellowship Reflection: Minne Bosma, South Asia Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (SAILS) in Dhaka, Bangladesh, 2014

IMG_2789Minne Bosma graduated from the Master of Laws (LL.M) Program at the University of Minnesota Law School with a human rights concentration. He interned previously at the University of Minnesota’s Human Rights Center, and the Advocates for Human Rights in Minneapolis. The Human Rights Fellowship provided Minne the possibility to gain practical experience in the field of human rights. Minne used his Human Rights Fellowship to work with the South Asia Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (SAILS) in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

At SAILS, Minne developed workshops and taught 25 Law students who were volunteering in the Human Rights Law Clinic. The topic of these lectures ranged from European Human Rights to Corporate Social Responsibility to Human Rights Law. Through this clinic the students could improve their knowledge and practical skills and be inspired to become human rights lawyers in the near future. Minne also assisted in the establishment of a new governance project called “Legal Empowerment of the Poor”. Together with the team, he made an assessment analysis on the practice in Bangladesh and wrote a project proposal and plan for the coming five years. The fellowship strengthened his desire to work professionally in the field of human rights or development in the near future. Recently, he has obtained a short-term employment with the Dutch embassy in Dhaka on the garments sector and workers rights. He hopes that this experience will be the start of a career in the field of human rights and the development sector.

After he finished his internship at SAILS, he took time to reflect on human rights and the impact of his fellowship. Instead of a legal or technical approach to the definition of human rights, he would like to share some other perspectives. He believes that all human beings have the right to a dignified life. Dignity will be interpreted in different manners around the world, so different rights are needed and/or prioritized in different places to reach this basic threshold. Minne says that we should therefore respect each other’s differences, also in the application of dignity, and allow our fellow human beings to make their own decisions in this regard.

Particularly, he hopes that there will be more focus on disability rights, as they have been neglected for a long time in the developed world, and have realistically still a long way to go in the developing world. This group of human beings is often not able to improve their own situation, legally or in practice. He would love to add something in this regard, especially in the developing world, and he is thinking about including them in society through social entrepreneurship as opposed to not being locked up in orphanages or clinics. For example, by giving them work which they can execute despite their disabilities. In addition, Minne thinks that how Europe deals with refugees is another current human rights topic of great importance. In his opinion, Europe should take a more human approach to the immigration and refugee issues, inside Europe and at her borders.

Concerning his fellowship in Bangladesh, Minne assured that he will never forget the four months being abroad. Although in Dhaka there are so many sad things happening that deserve not to be neglected, he likes to focus on the positive side. Minne also noticed that there are a lot of things changing or being developed, and especially young people whom are striving to build a better future for their people and country.

Minne’s general advice for people who want to work in the field of human rights:

“Go abroad, get out of your comfort zone, and change your horizon. Be open to new views and critics of your own and learn from your experiences. When you want to work in the human rights field, I think it’s good to have the right expectation. It can be deeply inspiring and energizing to see grassroots movements, the positive impact of development and aid, and the small victories and the bigger social change and justice. However, it can also be truly challenging and frustrating, as the change might not develop as fast as you would like to see. So if you think you can handle that and want to make this world a better place for all of us, go for it!”

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