The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Notes from the Field: Rachel Favors '18

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Rachel Favors '18 interns with the the U.S. Department of State Office of West African Affairs for the Summer 2017 term. 

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Rachel Favors '18 interned with the U.S. Department of State Office of West African Affairs for the Summer 2017 term. The following is an excerpt from her internship report.

This summer, I interned at the U.S. Department of State Office of West African Affairs. The U.S. Department of State advances U.S. foreign policy priorities and represents the interests of the American people by working to shape a more peaceful, stable, and democratic world. As an intern on the Nigeria desk in the Office of West African Affairs, I supported U.S. engagement with the Nigerian government and people to strengthen democracy and good governance in Nigeria, to support the country’s economic growth, to advance peace and security in the areas besieged by Boko Haram and ISIS West-Africa, and to promote widespread opportunity and development in Nigerian society.

During my internship, I primarily assisted with the human rights and humanitarian assistance portfolios. I monitored the allegations of human rights abuses against the Nigerian security forces and the military’s and government’s responses to the allegations and efforts to improve their human rights record. In addition to this responsibility, I also conducted research for Nigeria desk officers, drafted public statements for senior U.S. government officials, and tracked China’s growing commercial and political influence in Nigeria.

The knowledge that I gained on human rights issues and the current state of affairs in Nigeria, the relationships I formed at the State Department, and the opportunity to witness diplomacy in action, were the three most positive parts of my internship. Before my internship, I had historical research experience in certain countries in Africa, but no specific knowledge of Nigeria or U.S. foreign policy priorities on the African continent.

By helping to draft statements for senior U.S. government officials on issues pertaining to Nigeria and attending consultations given to foreign service officers leaving for their tours at the U.S. embassy and consulate in Nigeria, I became a mini-expert on American strategic priorities in Nigeria (e.g. strengthening democratic institutions, promoting economic growth and development, etc.).

Not only did I further advance my knowledge of Nigerian history and current affairs, I also gained experience in human rights through my work in monitoring the Nigerian military’s and government’s progress in addressing allegations of human rights abuses against civilians and suspected terrorists. Through this work, I learned more specific information about international humanitarian law and how international human rights organizations work to hold states accountable to these standards. I am grateful to the Rockefeller Center for making this amazing opportunity possible.  

 

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