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What are human rights and humanitarian studies?

Human Rights AboutGenerally speaking, “human rights” refer to the rights that are spelled out in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as associated international treaties and covenants. According to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Human rights are rights inherent to all human beings, whatever our nationality, place of residence, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are all interrelated,interdependent and indivisible.



Victims of Pakistan's floods are pictured with boxes of rations distributed by the UN World Food Programme (WFP), including containers of vegetable oil, at a tent camp in Naseerabad, Balochistan Province. Since mid-August 2010 WFP has distributed some 7,500 tons of food to Balochistan's worst affected districts. (United Nations Photo)

Universal human rights are often expressed and guaranteed by law, in the forms of treaties, customary international law , general principles and other sources of international law. International human rights law lays down obligations of Governments to act in certain ways or to refrain from certain acts, in order to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms of individuals or groups.

Humanitarian studies, on the other hand, stem from international humanitarian law which addresses acceptable practices and actions during complex emergencies, particularly in armed conflict. Humanitarian studies thus involve issues dealing with the delivery of aid and assisting the victims of war, extreme poverty and natural disaster. To learn more, visit:

Saint Louis Organizations

Children and Youth Services
These organizations focus on families and children, offering services like counseling for children and parents, foster care placement and free health care.


Community
These organizations work with community members to provide community resources and support services in a variety of areas, including education, housing and employment, to help them overcome social and economic difficulties.


Disabled Persons
Some non-profit organizations help persons with mental, developmental, intellectual and physical disabilities. They offer life skills training, community living services, recreational activities and more for handicapped children and adults.


Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
These groups tend to provide emergency assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Typical services include 24-hour telephone help lines, walk-in clinics and safe houses. Other groups advocate for the rights of victims of sexual assault.


Education
Educational non-profit groups often tutor children, teach adults to read and write and teach English as a second language to immigrants.


Elder Care
Elder care volunteer opportunities include helping senior citizens perform everyday tasks, like driving to the doctor or fixing dinner. Some non-profits in this category help take care of elderly people with long-term illnesses like Alzheimer's disease.


Environment
This category includes non-profits focused on environmental issues and the outdoors.


Ex-Offender Re-entry
These non-profit organizations help ex-felons transition from prison into society by offering structured housing, skills training, employment assistance, and educational opportunities.


Health
Health-based non-profit organizations often provide medical care to those who cannot otherwise afford it. Others help terminally ill patients and their families cope financially and emotionally with their illnesses. Organizations that help individuals with drug and alcohol addictions are also included in this list.


Homelessness
Most non-profit organizations that combat homelessness operate shelters where people sleep and eat. Sometimes, they also help the homeless find jobs and low-rent homes and offer financial assistance.


Hunger
These organizations donate food to hungry individuals and families.


International
This category includes organizations with an international focus.


Legal Assistance
Legal advocacy non-profits offer low-cost legal services to low-income residents. They often represent individuals in child custody, divorce and domestic violence cases. Some legal assistance groups specialize in helping children or the elderly.


Poverty
These organizations provide any number of services to the poor, including those relating to health, education, housing and economic development, with the goal of creating healthy lifestyles and prosperous environments.

Umbrella Organizations

Many non-profit organizations oversee a broad range of activities, or give financial assistance to numerous charitable organizations. A non-profit job seeker can start at the umbrella organization and read about its non-profit members. Better yet, some non-profit umbrella organizations maintain their own job databases.

Non-Profit Employment Listings

Many of Missouri's non-profit opportunities are listed in national or statewide databases of volunteer positions. The following websites list numerous non-profit organizations in St. Louis.

Organizations

There are countless non-governmental organizations (NGOs) dedicated to human rights and humanitarian work. An excellent resource for locating these organizations – along with volunteer opportunities, internships, and job openings – is the Web site www.idealist.org. A few NGOs to get you started include:

Graduate Study

People working in the fields of human rights and humanitarianism come from diverse backgrounds. Some earned bachelor's degrees in human rights, international relations, or political science before entering graduate school or law school; others studied other subjects but were inspired to pursue a career in rights and/or humanitarian work. Many returned Peace Corps volunteers (www.peacecorps.gov), for example, return home and devote themselves to work with NGOs, government agencies, the United Nations, or human rights offices within transnational corporations. If you are considering graduate studies related to human rights and humanitarian studies, here are a few places to explore:

** Special thanks to Webster University Career Services for assistance in compiling this list.