Gallianne Palayret (E.MA graduate 2002/2003)
Child protection officer for UNICEF in Haiti
Why did you apply to E.MA?
I applied to the E.MA programme after finishing Sciences-Po (Political Sciences in France) in 2002. When at university, I knew I wanted to do something which could have a positive impact on other peoples’ lives, but to be really honest I had not thought about human rights. I wanted to be a journalist, some kind of war correspondent to report the atrocities committed against civilians. But two internships in different French media were enough to make me realise that time pressure and promotion of sensationalism over quality were not my working ethics. This is how I ended up reading about the European Master in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) in an academic review and decided human rights may fit me better than journalism. I was right.
What are the learning benefits of E.MA?
I started the E.MA in September 2002. To the pleasure of living in one of the most beautiful and magic cities in the world, Venice, was added the pleasure of finally being treated as a future professional and not simply as a student who must learn theories by heart never to apply them. I enjoyed every minute of my participation in the Masters: the organization of the courses by thematic weeks with both academics and professionals sharing with us, rather than teaching us, not only the substance of the rights but also their concrete application; group works; exams based on reflection rather than memorization; the set of documentation distributed at the beginning of each week to help us deepen our understanding of the theme; the second semester in a different country and environment to focus on the thesis… and of course the wild games of table football at the Monastero!
Did E.MA help in your career?
E.MA helped me in three ways: first it opened me the doors of interesting positions within the UN system as a Masters degree is almost systematically a requirement for P3 and above positions; second it taught me how to approach human rights issues and gave me a good understanding of the existing human rights mechanisms with which I work on an everyday basis; finally its reputation in the small and competitive human rights world is a fantastic business card and the solidarity among Masterini is a reality. Many of them from former and following classes are my friends or colleagues.
After working for the French diplomacy in Geneva, following the sessions of the Human Rights Council, I had the chance to work for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cameroon and Fiji. I am now working on child protection for UNICEF in Haiti. I am rich of all these experiences and looking forward to new ones and I know I owe part of these experiences to the fact I studied at the E.MA.