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After three basic levels, two advanced levels and one thematic course organized by the Human Rights Academy (HRA), Human Rights Career Day was organized in accordance with the demands of the alumni.

This online event, in which various human rights sectors were discussed in separate sessions, was held in July 2021, on Zoom. Expert speakers in related fields took part in each session. The career day held with more than three hundred individual participants and experts’ career experiences on human rights were transferred to those who want to make a career in human rights.

At the opening of the program Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF) Turkey and HRA Program Coordinator, Elif Güney Menderes spoke of the activities carried out since 2019 since the establishment of the Academy. HRA Academic Advisor Dr Olgun Akbulut said that the Academy is eager to meet the demands of the field with programs like this if the demands are to be shared with the Academy. FNF Turkey Director Dr Ronald Meinardus said that HRA is a pioneering project in the field and it contributed to the field with innovative activities such as this one.




The first joint session was carried out under the moderation of FNF Turkey Director Dr. Ronald Meinardus. During the session, the issue of “Human Rights Career in International Institutions” was discussed with FNF’s Director of Human Rights and Rule of Law Themes, Dr Michaela Lissowsky, UNHCR Istanbul Office Director Att. Elif Selen Ay; and former Legal Expert for ECtHR Dr. Erkan Duymaz.

Four experts, who have worked in three different international institutions, told their career stories and talked about how to pursue a human rights career in international institutions.

Att. Elif Selen Ay talked about the career opportunities in UNHCR and importance of public sector as well as the international organizations in terms of experience in the field. Also, she stressed that human rights is a wide field and deciding what area to specialize is important for the people who want to work in human rights. Dr Lawoski talked about the importance of academic life in the field and how the people outside of legal profession can participate and contribute to human rights and what capacity they can work on the subject with examples from her own experience. Dr. Duymaz talked about the career and internship opportunities on the European Court of Human Rights as well as the function of legal experts in ECtHR. He also stressed the importance of being fluent on the Council’s languages in pursuing a career at the court.

The speakers also emphasized the importance of determining what is desired and what is not wanted while planning a career and emphasized that it is necessary to have as much experience as possible. For this reason, they mentioned that an internship is a great opportunity. They stressed that one should not be afraid to experiment.




After the joint session, the participants were divided into two sessions according to their demands. The first session was on the issue of “Human Rights Career in the Civil Society”. Under the moderation of FNF Turkey Program Director Gülçin Sinav; Hrant Dink Foundation’s Program Coordinator Nayat Karaköse, SPoD Political Participation Team Leader Marsel Tuğkan Gündoğdu and Co-founder of Media and Legal Studies Association Barış Altuntaş participated as speakers to the session. Speakers emphasized the importance of volunteering in their own career stories and talked about why they have chosen civil society as a career path.


During the session that continued with questions from the participants; the difficulties of working in the fields of freedom of expression, minority rights, LGBTI+ rights, how the difficulties arising from the political situation were overcome and the motivation sources of those working in this field were discussed. Speakers emphasized the importance of being a dissident in the field of civil society.


The second session was executed on the issue of “Human Rights Career in Politics”. It was moderated by FNF Turkey and HRA Coordinator Elif Güney Menderes. Republican People’s Party’s Istanbul Office’s Head of Disciplinary Board Att. İsmail Emre Telci, IYI Party’s Deputy Director for Legal Policy of Istanbul Office Att. Çağla Kızılkoca and founding member of Democracy and Progress Party Att. Gülçin Avşar attended as speakers.


After the speakers talked about their careers, they explained why they were interested in politics. Talking about the place of the struggle for human rights in their political lives, the speakers answered questions from the participants. In their questions to the participants, the speakers touched upon the human rights policies of political parties and adaptation to the Z generation. The speakers emphasized that each individual is part of the solution to the human rights problem and that the struggle for human rights is an obligation of being human rather than a career.



After the break from the first parallel sessions, three different sessions were held to discuss human rights careers in media, academia, and applied fields. The participants met with experts in the sessions where they were settled according to their wishes.

The “Human Rights Career in Academy” session was held under the moderation of Kadir Has Law School’s Faculty Member and Human Rights Academy’s Academic Advisor, Dr Olgun Akbulut. Dr. Serkan Köybaşı from Bahçeşehir Law School and Dr. Özge Yücel from Özyeğin Law School.

After the speakers talked about the reasons for choosing an academic career and their stories of entering academic life, they talked about the difficulties they experienced on this path. They touched upon the areas that can be specialized in human rights law, which will be on the agenda in the future. With the questions from the participants, academic career opportunities abroad and the advantages and disadvantages of the academy compared to other fields were discussed. Speakers emphasized that young academic candidates should not hesitate to ask for resources and help.


Journalist Nevşin Mengü and Daktilo 1984 Co-Founder Enes Özkan attended the session titled “Human Rights Career in the Media” moderated by FNF Turkey Program Director Gülçin Sinav.

After the speakers gave information about their careers, they talked about their adventures on this path. With the participants’ questions, the future of the media, anonymity in reporting human rights violations, the development of individual journalism, the importance of human rights in the new media and career opportunities in this direction were discussed. During the discussion, they touched upon the problem that social media functions as a new city square. The media does not give young journalists the opportunity to specialize in human rights.


The third session was titled “Human Rights Career in Applied Fields”. It was moderated by FNF Turkey and Human Rights Academy Project Coordinator Elif Güney Menderes. ECtHR Attorney Att. Veysel Ok from Istanbul Bar and Istanbul Bar Association’s Human Rights Center’s Chairperson Att. Tuğçe Duygu Köksal talked about their careers in the beginning. In addition to the problems they experience in the legal profession, they explained the skillsets and processes required from the profession.

The speakers stressed that hope stands at the centre of the struggle for human rights. They talked about the fact that practice and theory go hand in hand in the struggle for human rights in applied fields and that it is important not only to listen but also to hear, giving examples from their careers.



At the end of the program, all participants were settled in the main session, and Azor’s People Brand Solutions Founder Emre Başkan presented “Inside Job Market Competition: How Do You Differentiate Yourself“. He informed the participants about how the mindset in the job market can be developed and how individuals can put themselves forward in the job market. The speaker ended his speech by emphasizing that only those who leave their comfort zones can change the world.

The visual communication graphic of the event was prepared by the graphic designer Emre Güzel throughout the entire event. The relevant graphic can be found in the appendix.

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