A Whole New World… of IR

Being a political science student at Pitt whose primary studies are in international relations (IR), I have always tried to stay up to date with global politics in the news – but mostly just for research papers or something else school-related. Working in an international NGO this summer, however, has taught be that it is imperative to stay more up to date than I am typically used to. Not only does the office regularly talk about international politics as small talk (aka fun lunch discussions), but it is also incredibly relevant to our work preserving human rights on an international scale. As an organization that specializes in promoting and preserving human rights protections and democracy whilst working against nationalism, hate speech, antisemitism, racism, etc., it is vital to our interests to ensure that we stay up to date with global news. We often bring awareness to modern issues through op-eds (opinion editorials), demonstrations (whether they be protests [such as the one pictured above – don’t worry I wasn’t was miserable as I look], informative meetings, or anything in between), and appeals to European and national governments/politicians.

Therefore, the global political environment essentially shapes everything my organization does, whether it be in casual social gatherings or in everyday work. To give a specific example on this relationship, a part of my organization is the Elie Wiesel Network, which is an association that works to bring awareness and prevent/end genocide denial (a shockingly common issue in IR) and racist/antisemitic attacks/propaganda. One of the projects the Elie Wiesel Network has is to commemorate the Armenian Genocide, which has not been officially recognized by the Turkish government. Due to Turkey’s current political climate, this project is made exceptionally more difficult and therefore it is imperative that we try to not only stay up to date with the political standings in Turkey, but also that we try to shape it to our advantage. For those who don’t know, Turkey is essentially turning into an authoritative regime under the influence of President Erdogan, who has repeatedly renewed a state of emergency in Turkey since an attempted coup in 2016. In this state of emergency, the government is “legally” (I have that in quotations because it blatantly disrespects several European regulations Turkey has signed) able to diminish the rights of people, particularly their freedom of speech and press – they have systematically imprisoned political activists, journalists, and artists who have spoken out against the Erdogan regime.

…Sorry, I’m ranting.

Anyway, my background knowledge and interest in current events make my job here at EGAM so much more interesting and relevant to me and my studies/career aspirations. The Global environment shapes everything that is done in my office – from this, each country’s national political state is essential to the promotion of human rights on the global scale. As one can see, global and national politics, especially in this sphere of work, is intricately intertwined and it is essential to stay up to date with current events in order to truly make a difference (or at least try). In my experiences so far, I’ve learned so much more about IR than I had before in a classroom – and I certainly understand more about how NGOs operate on the international and national scales.

I hope everyone else is having a great time as well! 🙂