International Fellow, Luchino Ferraris reflects on his internship with Natural Justice

My four-month internship period at Natural Justice (from January to the end of April 2016) was not just a high level professional training, but also an unforgettable life experience.

With an elegant office situated at the sixth floor of the prestigious “Mercantile Building” – one of the most traditional and well-preserved buildings in Cape Town, located at the heart of the Central Business District (CBD) – Natural Justice is a team of professional and committed people primarily fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights on a national and a global scale and drawing on a wide array of tools (legal, political, scientific) to reach this aim.

If anybody reading this post has in mind the cliché of the intern making photocopies twelve hours a day, please forget about it and keep on reading. On the contrary, the team immediately welcomes you and makes you feel involved in its projects, always giving you the possibility to have a say in the organization and encouraging you to adopt a personal and critical view at every stage of the work.

Thanks to my legal background – and particularly in international and environmental law, acquired during my undergraduate in “Law” at the University of Milan and in the master (LLM) “Global Environment and Climate Change Law” at the University of Edinburgh – I focused on numerous legal and political-related issues such as the research and drafting of a working paper on the outcomes of the 2015 Paris Agreement, the drafting of a policy brief on the Right to Food and Food Security in Southern Africa and at international level, the elaboration of strategies to defend indigenous peoples’ rights at judicial level and the development of plans to raise awareness on the protection of traditional knowledge and intellectual property rights.

The carrying out of such tasks is reflected in my dynamic daily life at the office which involved desktop research, team meetings, interviews with other researchers and politicians, as well as the participation in workshops, conferences and the frequent contact with the teaching staff of the University of Cape Town (UCT). On this point, the one-week field work we conducted in the Richtersveld desert (Northern Cape) with the Nama community definitely deserves a special mention.

On a personal note, I wish to stress the serious, transparent and respectful attitude of the whole team, with whom I undertook not only a professional, but also a human relationship. I therefore strongly recommend such an experience to everyone who wishes to undertake a highly professionalizing experience and to spend a magnificent period in the gorgeous Cape Town.

Post by Luchino Ferraris.

24 April 2016

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