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MHR Student Kantack Works with Human Rights Watch to Reduce Harm and Prevent Use of Cluster Munition

October 11, 2017

Young woman with long brown hair in formal attire standing infront of maroon background

Jacqulyn Meyer Kantack dedicated her summer to researching cluster munition usage in Syria and ensuring that other countries comply with the ban of cluster munition usage.  Jacqulyn, a Masters of Human Rights student, spent three months in Washington D.C. as an intern for Human Rights Watch (HRW), an NGO committed to defending the rights of people worldwide. 

While Jacqulyn worked on many projects while at HRW, her favorite project was the Cluster Munition Monitor.  Jacqulyn was a part of this project from start to finish.  Working as part of a larger team that compiled the annual report for the Cluster Munition Monitor, she researched and wrote about which countries have stock piles of cluster munitions. 

The research for the Cluster Munition Monitor came from a United Nations database that contains country specific reports on cluster munition usage and compliance (found here).  Additionally, Jacqulyn and her team monitored whether countries implemented domestic legislation against the usage of cluster munition.  The annual report details progress under the ban treaty and confirms that there have been no reports or allegations of any countries engaging in new uses of cluster munition.  Even without the participation of major powers, such as China and Russia, this research on cluster munition has a big impact in reducing harm and preventing new use.  Click here to see HRW’s cluster munitions webpageHere to read the Cluster Munition Monitor 2017 and see specific country profiles.   

Jacqulyn also worked on open source research that compiled media and social media information on air strike attacks.  As part of this project she would view social media live footage and posts of air strikes, input the data into a database, map them and see location trends.  The open source research on Syria was used to keep a running account on three types cluster weapon attacks: munition, chemical, and incendiary.  These reports are published quarterly and are also used as data for country reports for the Cluster Munition Monitor

Cover of report with two men standing in a brown field
2017 Cluster Muntion Monitor

In addition, Jacqulyn was also part of HRW’s campaign to preemptively ban lethal autonomous weapons systems (known more colloquially as “killer robots”).  For this project, she drafted country profiles for the Killer Robot Monitor that HRW will be releasing this fall.

One of the many useful skills that Jackie brought to her internship was knowledge of Arabic and French, which she used to translate relevant documents.  Jacqulyn received the Foreign Language & Area Studies (FLAS) Fellowships to continue her Arabic studies as an MHR student.  She was granted the fellowship due to her joint studies in Human Rights and Arabic.  The documents Jacqulyn translated consisted of country statements at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.  Some of these documents can be found  in the UNOG Article 7 database.

The complexity of working at an international level was a new experience for Jacqulyn.  Not only were there different languages she had to work in, but she also had to adjust to the fast pace of working in a global NGO.   

Jacqulyn’s summer internship at HRW enhanced her learning as a student.  Not only did she get real world experience in her field, but she also discovered what she’s really passionate about: research!  Prior to her internship, Jacqulyn thought she wanted to focus on advocacy work, but after her summer in D.C. she discovered that when she graduates in the spring, she wants to work on Human Rights research.  With the writing, open source research, and fast paced report turnout experience at HWR, she will seek jobs at NGOs or think tanks, hopefully in Washington D.C.

Jacqulyn received the Pillsbury Award, the Stembler Ebert Award, and the FLAS scholarship.  She would like to thank each entity for making her summer in Washington D.C. possible.