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June 01, 2012

Celina Bonugli

IUCN - Environmental Law Centre, Bonn, Germany

As a student focusing on international environmental law, I was presented with the incredible opportunity to travel to Bonn, Germany to intern at the Environmental Law Centre (ELC) for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Through the support I received from the PILP stipend, I gladly accepted the position and I can easily say that it has been one of the most influential legal experiences I’ve had thus far!


Over the summer, not only did I find myself in a city that serves as a hubcap for international law, often hosting international treaty meetings and attracting international scholars, but I was able to contribute to work that ideally serves the interest of the global public. The IUCN is a nonprofit environmental network made up of over 1,000 members including States, government agencies and national and international NGOs. With the capacity to reach a global audience, the ELC works to facilitate the use of environmental law as a tool to influence, encourage and assist societies to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature; and ensures that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.  Accordingly I worked on a variety of issues ranging from drafting policy on legal implementation mechanisms for the conservation of biodiversity in the areas beyond national jurisdiction, analyzing the current mining legal regimes, preparing for upcoming United Nations Convention of the Law Of the Sea meetings, and developing capacity building tools for human rights based approaches to access and benefit sharing of genetic resources.

In all of all of this, I gained invaluable legal research skills. Specifically those related to international law, which is an area of legal research that is not necessarily emphasized while in law school. In particular, the ELC itself hosts an extensive library of legislation, treaties and case law, which I was granted free access to (& the incredible librarian staff who happily guiding me in my assignments).

Lastly, and maybe one of the most amazing aspects, by working at an international intergovernmental organization I was granted the unique opportunity to meet, interact with and provide legal support to individuals from all over the world (including Germany, New Zealand, Italy, France, Russia, Bolivia, England, Switzerland, Costa Rica & Reunion). The cultural diversity at our office was amazing! This diversity was not only reflected in the legal work I contributed to (varying international issues, laws from different countries and even different languages), but in our daily work life as well. Under the community like environment of the ELC, as colleagues we often shared and even celebrated (with monthly multi-cultural lunches) our cultural differences.

The PILP stipend granted me the amazing opportunity to pursue my legal passions, no matter where they took me, and ultimately led me to the amazing experience I had at the IUCN. For that, I am truly grateful!