Investigating injustice: Michael Jung on his work with UNICEF in Bangkok, Thailand

Michael Jung at UNICEF

Photo courtesy of Michael Jung

The Chayes International Public Service Fellowships provide Harvard Law School students with the opportunity to spend eight weeks engaged in international public service within the governments of developing nations and those making difficult transitions to peace, stability, and democracy, as well as the inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations that support them. This year, nineteen students were awarded 2016 Chayes International Public Service Fellowships for work in 13 countries.

In a recent post on the HLS International Legal Studies blog, Michael Jung ’18 wrote about his experience working with UNICEF in Bangkok, Thailand, researching and gaining an overview of the current and future landscape of juvenile justice in the region.

Working at the UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) in Bangkok has been a phenomenal learning experience. My work primarily deals with violence against children and justice for children in the 28 countries that are overseen by EAPRO.

I’ve been writing and conducting extensive legal research and legislative and policy analyses. It’s been fascinating to observe the incredibly diverse legal frameworks on children and juvenile justice, and particularly exciting to see the legislative reforms and initiatives in recent and upcoming months.

On top of the respectable mandate of UNICEF, every person in our office is inspirational, and my supervisor is simply fantastic with profound expertise and experience in this field. I already feel as though I have been with UNICEF for years.

I recently returned from a UNICEF mission to Timor-Leste that was aimed at better understanding the landscape of juvenile justice and better strategizing the efforts of UNICEF in the country. It was an extraordinary opportunity to visit a prison facility and engage with the incarcerated young persons, meet with the legal drafter of the forthcoming laws on children, and speak with various actors in the system including ministry officials, prosecutors, and legal aid organizations.

In Bangkok, I was able to visit a juvenile vocational training center for boys and assist with a juvenile justice meeting attended by representatives of the 10 ASEAN countries and other entities in the region. I also had the occasion of visiting the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok with my three HLS colleagues here and had some interesting discussions with two political officers, one dealing with human rights and another dealing with security, cybersecurity, and issues in the deep south of Thailand.

Bangkok is a wonderful place to be, especially given the number of organizations and regional bodies in the city, and my collaboration with various individuals has led to some thrilling opportunities in the months to come. The weather is hot, but that is exactly the way I like it, and I love the district I live in (the older part of the city).

I couldn’t have asked for a better summer, and I look forward to seeing the types of work I will be conducting going forward!

This post was originally published on the Harvard Law School International Legal Studies blog on July 20, 2016.