NGOs in Geneva launch We Pay Our Interns charter

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The Fair Internship Initiative will collaborate with the charter offering insight into best practices for internships policies and programmes

GENEVA — Non-governmental organizations in Geneva recently launched a charter called We Pay Our Interns in response to the growing awareness to unpaid, unregulated internship practices common to international organizations and to the private sector. Signatories of the charter vow to pay a minimum financial aid equivalent to CHF 500 for full-time internships — this financial aid can include “in-kind contributions, such as food, accommodation, transportation or any other means of support”. Twenty-nine NGOs have signed up to the charter, including Save the Children, World YMCA, Peace Watch Switzerland, Care International, Centre for Civil and Political Rights (CCPR) and Universal Periodic Review (UPR).

Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 10.53.28The charter refers to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that “Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity”. It aims to draw attention to the issue of unpaid internships, alerting to the fact that while this sector values equality and justice improvement it does not comply with its own values by recruiting unpaid interns.

The Fair Internship Initiative – Geneva welcomes We Pay Our Interns charter as an important player to our mission. It shows that NGOs have recognised the practice of unpaid internships rules out people from low-income backgrounds. With limited budget and resources, especially in comparison to the UN’s multi-billion budget, NGOs are an example to other international actors who resist in rethinking their internship policies. The FII–Geneva also stresses that living costs in Geneva amount to CHF 1800-CHF 2200 per month and therefore encourages NGOs to consider increasing this financial aid to at least add up to this standard, as recommended in the We Pay Our Interns charter.

The FII–Geneva will establish a collaboration with We Pay Our Interns charter, offering insight into best practices for internships and discussing the expansion of the charter to include international governmental organizations, which are the main focus of the Fair Internship Initiative in Geneva, New York, and in other cities where it has established its presence.

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