Experience of traineeships - Ellen Nohle

14 February 2017

My name is Ellen Nohle, and I recently finished my one-year traineeship at the legal division of the ICRC. My background is in law, with a Bachelor from the University of Cambridge, after which I specialized in international law at the University for Peace in Costa Rica and at the University of Oxford.

What brought you to the ICRC?

Ever since I was 14 years old and lived in Jerusalem during the intifada, I have wanted to be part of an organization that works to enhance the protection of persons affected by armed conflict. The ICRC was an obvious choice, with its leading role in protection, assistance and prevention activities all over the world. The ICRC also presented an opportunity for me to further specialize international humanitarian law (IHL), and to learn from outstanding specialists in this area of international law.

What do you do ?

My work as a trainee has been substantive and varied. As a legal trainee, you rotate every 4 months to a new unit of the legal department. This is part of what makes the traineeship so rewarding, as it allows you to experience the different types of work carried out by the units of the legal department. For instance, I was part of the research team updating the Commentaries to the Geneva Conventions; I worked on classifications of armed conflicts in the legal operations unit; and I worked on various legal issues relating to weapons, such as autonomous weapon systems and explosive weapons in populated areas.

What are the 3 top highlight of your traineeship?

Although it is difficult to choose among the many things I have enjoyed about the traineeship, I would like to highlight the following three:
1. First, it has been an incredible learning experience, as I have had the opportunity to work on challenging substantive issues and learn from experts in IHL.
2. Second, the colleagues in the legal division have really made me feel part of the ICRC family, always being incredibly helpful and kind.
3. Third, and possibly most importantly, I have been able to contribute to the work of an organization that shares my values and objectives. By doing so, I have made progress on realizing an aspiration I have had since I was 14 years old, namely to ensure respect for the rights and dignity of persons affected by armed conflict.