Opportunities Until the End

Strengthening the skills of future human rights defenders in their last semester

The Human Rights Program is committed to offering opportunities for students to practice the skills they have developed in the classroom in professional work outside of the classroom. Successful human rights change is a product of both academic experiences and engagement in the field. Through our many classes, internship offerings, and research opportunities, the Human Rights Program has strengthened the skills of future human rights defenders as they progress through higher education. 

We are excited to introduce you to Livia Mickschl (Class of ‘24), who has been working alongside HRP director Dr. Carrie Walling, this semester.

Livia Mickschl (Class of ‘24)

Livia Mickschl (CLA '24)

Livia is a fourth-year student from LaCrosse, WI. A global studies student with a focus on human rights and justice in Europe, Livia added Italian studies to her undergraduate course requirements after taking an Italian class on migration to southern Italy. “With each class I took after that, my interest grew,” and quickly, Livia developed a strong interest in migrant rights, including the rights of immigrants, internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees, and asylum seekers. 

Having known generally about human rights, Livia began to learn about some of the more niche aspects of human rights. In the fall of 2022, Livia took two more classes that dealt with the topic of migration: one called Crimmigration and the other focused on transnational migration. Livia also took the Institute for Global Studies’ International Human Rights Law course, during which she learned and practiced how to write various reports for NGOs and various UN mechanisms. After hearing about the HRP for the first time during the HRP undergraduate open house in the fall, “I thought ‘This is my chance to do research!’”

This spring, Livia is participating in a directed studies research project with Dr. Walling through which she will earn credits towards her degree. The project that she will be working on is titled “Measuring the Justice Norm: The Entanglement of Power and Principle at the United Nations,” and it aims to measure the strength of the justice norm by assessing the decisions of the UN Security Council. These decisions have had significant impacts not only on whether they help victims access justice but also on how they affect the International Criminal Court (ICC) and its legitimacy. Livia will be working with a dataset on the decisions that the Security Council has made from 2009-2019 and will be updating it to include the decisions that have been made since then. 

While this task has great importance for understanding the role of the Security Council in promoting and codifying the justice norm, there is anticipated difficulty since there have not been as many decisions since 2019 that fit in the context of the dataset: “It has kind of been put on the back burner with other things going on in the world, but I still think it will be really interesting to see what the data shows about victim’s access to justice, decisions, and the legitimacy of the ICC.” Livia explained how this research will be especially interesting for contextualizing what is happening in Gaza in relation to the Security Council’s effects on ICC jurisdiction and legitimacy.

Livia will gain a first-hand introduction to peer review and the academic publishing process as she examines Security Council documents and other existing literature, updates the dataset with new cases, and constructs a report on the culmination of her work and subsequent findings. “I’m excited for both the research and my internship through the Global Studies Human Rights Internship class because, even though it is my last semester of college, they are both things I have wanted to do during my undergraduate career.”  

We look forward to working with Livia this semester and are excited to see the end product of this research. Stay up-to-date with the Human Rights Program for updates on this project!

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